Currently, anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders affecting humanity and its prevalence is increasing. Anxiolytic substances occupy a prominent post in the ranking of the most utilized drugs by man. However, the anxiolytic drugs have an unfavorable risk/benefit ratio, especially benzodiazepines. Several medicinal plants have been used in traditional folk medicine for their anxiolytic or sedative properties. It is well reported in the literature that aromatic substances have the power to influence emotional states in humans. Several plants rich in essential oil have been used in the treatment of anxiety. In addition, a great number of essential oils are currently in use as aromatherapy agents to relieve stress and depression. These oils are considered a holistic complementary therapy utilized for increased comfort and reduce stress. For this reason, we performed a literature review used papers indexed in Elsevier Science Direct and PubMed a source of research. The dates were collected of reviewed studies from 2000 to 2011 using essential oils of genus citrus with anxiolytic effects in preclinical models and clinical studies. Ethnopharmacological data has confirmed the popular use of plant species of the genus Citrus with sedatives, hypnotics, tranquilizers and anti-epileptics activities to treat disorders of the central nervous system. Given these assumptions, this paper aims to describe the principal evidence in the literature about the use of essential oils of genus citrus with anxiolytic effects in preclinical models and clinical studies.
Key words: Genus citrus, anxiolytic effects, preclinical models, clinical studies of anxiety.
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