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Study of the effect of extract of Thymus  vulgaris on anxiety in male rats
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Neurophysiology Research Center, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran
Received 14 October 2014, Revised 16 November 2014, Accepted 4 January 2015, Available online 1 August 2015.

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Open Access funded by Center for Food and Biomolecules, National Taiwan University
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There is some evidence in traditional medicine for the effectiveness of Thymus vulgaris (百里香 bǎi lǐ xiāng) in the treatment of anxiety in humans. The elevated plus-maze (EPM) has broadly been used to investigate anxiolytic and anxiogenic compounds. The present study investigated the effects of extract of T. vulgaris on rat behavior in the EPM. In the present study, the data were obtained from male Wistar rats. Animals were divided into four groups: saline group and T. vulgaris groups (50 mg/kg, 100 mg/kg, and 200 mg/kg infusion for 7 days by feeding). During the test period, the total distance covered by animals, the number of open- and closed-arm entries, and the time spent in open and closed arms of the EPM were recorded. T. vulgaris increased open-arm exploration and open-arm entry in the EPM, whereas extract of this plant has no effects on the total distance covered by animals and the number of closed-arm entries. The results of the present experiment indicate that T. vulgaris may have an anxiolytic profile in rat behavior in the EPM test, which is not influenced by the locomotor activity. Further research is required to determine the mechanisms by which T. vulgaris extract exerts an anxiolytic effect in rats.

The effects of different doses of hydroalcoholic extract of T. vulgaris (百里香 bǎi lǐ xiāng) on the percentage of entries into the open arms are shown in Fig. 1. One-way analysis of variance indicated that, compared with the control group, extract of T. vulgaris caused an increase in the percentage of entries into the open arms. Tukey-post-test analysis showed that T. vulgarisexhibited a significant increase in the percentage of entries into the open arms at concentrations of 100 mg/kg (p < 0.05) and 200 mg/kg (p < 0.01), but not at 50 mg/kg, in comparison with the control group.

Plants were used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history, and their utilization in medication is still well disseminated around the world.23Many plants exert recognized medicinal effects on the central nervous system, and are able to act on chronic conditions such as anxiety and depression that do not respond well to conventional therapeutic treatments.24 Various types of herbal medicines have been used as anxiolytics in different parts of the world.3 On the basis of these considerations, the purpose of this study was to characterize the anxiolytic-like activity of the hydroalcoholic extract prepared from T. vulgaris (百里香 bǎi lǐ xiāng). The results of the present study demonstrated that the extract of T. vulgaris increased the percentage of both the entries and the time spent in the open arms of the maze. Therefore, the extract was able to produce anxiolytic effect in rats after the 1-week oral administration. The effect of T. vulgaris was not induced by changes in motor activity at these doses, because the total distance covered by the rats was not altered. An increase in the time and proportion of the entries into the open arms lacking a changed locomotor activity is confirmed as a potent sign of an anxiolytic substance effect.15


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