2004 Volume 27 Issue 4 Pages 515-519
The present study was performed to evaluate the central nervous system inhibitory effects of the essential oil from SuHeXiang Wan (Storax pill), a prescription usually used for treating epilepsy in traditional Chinese medicine, on fragrance inhalation (aroma therapy). Preinhalation of the fragrance oil markedly delayed the appearance of pentylenetetrazole-induced convulsion, but showed weak activities on picrotoxin- and strychnine-induced convulsions, which implies this drug may inhibit the convulsion by GABAergic neuromodulation. This essential oil inhibited the binding of [3H]Ro15-1788, a selective antagonist for the benzodiazepine receptor and also the binding of [3H]flunitrazepam, a selective agonist for the receptor, in the presence of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and NaCl, showing a positive GABA shift, which suggested the strong possibility of the agonistic activity of the essential oil to the GABA/benzodiazepine receptor complex in rat cerebral cortices. Furthermore, inhalation inhibited the activity of GABA transaminase as the inhalation period was lengthened. The GABA level was significantly increased and glutamate content was significantly decreased in mouse brain by preinhalation of the essential oil. The above results suggest that the anticonvulsive effect of this essential oil can also originate from the enhancement of GABA level in the mouse brain, because convulsion depends partially on GABA concentration which can be properly preserved by inhibiting GABA transaminase. Fragrance inhalation progressively prolonged the pentobarbital-induced sleeping time as inhalation time was lengthened and inhibited brain lipid peroxidation, to which the anticonvulsive action is attributed; this also supported the above results, confirming the inhibitory effects of the essential oil of SuHeXiang Wan on the CNS via the GABAergic system.