Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Jasmine as valium substitute: RUB researchers discover unexpected effect of scents

Effect is comparable to potent psychotropic drugs

Instead of a sleeping pill or a mood enhancer, a nose full of jasmine from Gardenia jasminoides could also help: in collaboration with Dr. Olga Sergeeva and Prof. Helmut Hass from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, researchers from Bochum led by Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Hanns Hatt have discovered that the two fragrances Vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) have the same molecular mechanism of action and are as strong as the commonly prescribed barbiturates or propofol. They soothe, relieve anxiety and promote sleep. The researchers have now been granted a patent for their discovery. They report in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (online).

Every fifth German takes a sedative once a year

Sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants are the most frequently prescribed psychotropic drugs. The difference between calming and hypnotic effect depends solely on the dosage. The classes of substances that exert a calming effect include alcohol, barbiturates, opiates, and since the 1950s, the benzodiazepines, which are now among the world's most widely prescribed drugs. In the course of a year, about 20 percent of all Germans take such drugs or are treated with them for anaesthetic purposes. However, benzodiazepines are not only potentially addictive, but can also cause serious side effects, e.g. depression, dizziness, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.

Drugs enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA

Benzodiazepines, barbiturates and anaesthetics such as propofol act via specific adhesion sites on receptors that lie at contact points of nerve cells (synapses) in the brain and increase the effect of the inhibiting endogenous neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). In order to act like GABA itself, the medication would have to be highly dosed, but even lower doses are sufficient to increase the effect of endogenous GABA two to threefold.

Fragrances instead of tablets

The RUB researchers have now performed a large screening study in which they tested hundreds of fragrances to determine their effect on GABA receptors in humans and mice. The two fragrances vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513) were the strongest: they were able to increase the GABA effect by more than five times and thus act as strongly as the known drugs. The "cross check" with genetically modified GABA receptors in transgenic mice which no longer responded to propofol confirmed that the mechanism of action is the same: the altered receptor also no longer responded to the fragrances.

Fragrances for sleep disorders and stress

Behavioural tests with mice in Prof. Lübbert’s laboratory in the Department of Animal Physiology at the RUB then eliminated the last doubts concerning the qualities of fragrance as a sedative. Injected or inhaled, the fragrances generated a calming effect: in a Plexiglas cage whose air contained a high concentration of the fragrance, the mice ceased all activity and sat quietly in the corner. Via the air breathed in, the scent molecules go from the lungs into the blood and then transmitted from there to the brain. Electrophysiological measurements of neurons in the brain areas responsible for the sleep-wake cycle showed that the GABA-effect on those nerve cells active in sleep was enhanced by the fragrances. “We have discovered a new class of GABA receptor modulator which can be administered parentally and through the respiratory air,” says Prof. Hatt. “Applications in sedation, anxiety, excitement and aggression relieving treatment and sleep induction therapy are all imaginable. The results can also be seen as evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy.” By changing the chemical structure of the scent molecules, the researchers hope to achieve even stronger effects.

Bibliographic record

Olga A. Sergeeva, Olaf Kletke, Andrea Kragler, Anja Poppek, Wiebke Fleischer, Stephan Roger Schubring, Boris Goerg, Helmut L. Haas, Xin-Ran Zhu, Hermann Luebbert, Guenter Gisselmann, and Hanns Hatt: Fragrant dioxane derivatives identify β1 subunit-containing GABA(A) receptors. J. Biol. Chem. jbc.M110.103309 First Published on May 28, 2010, doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.103309

More information

Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Hanns Hatt, Department of Cell Physiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Tel. 0234/32-24586

Dr. Guenter Gisselmann, Department of Cell Physiology, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-Universität, 44780 Bochum, Tel. 0234/32-24586

Editor: Meike Drießen

Dr. Josef König | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Make way for the mini flying machines
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>