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