Jasmine scent could replace Valium, scientists discover

Jasmine scent could replace Valium, scientists discover
Photo: DPA
Instead of taking sleeping pills or mood-enhancing pharmaceuticals, people should try a whiff of jasmine, which is molecularly similar to drugs like Valium, according to new research published by German scientists this week.

The surprising effects of the Gardenia jasminoides scent include aiding sleep and anxiety relief, according to the “Journal of Biological Chemistry” report.

The scent molecules, transported into the blood through the lungs, could serve as a potent substitute for psychotropic prescription drugs, the researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum and the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf said.

The researchers tested hundreds of fragrances on humans and mice to see how they effected the function of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is enhanced by conventional drugs like Valium. The two fragrances vertacetal-coeur (VC) and the chemical variation (PI24513), derived from jasmine flowers, were the strongest, amping up GABA response “as strongly as the known drugs,” the study said.

To eliminate their last doubts about the viability of jasmine as a sedative substitute, the researchers performed behavioural tests on mice. The animals showed evidence of the scent’s calming effects through both injection and inhalation.

“We have discovered a new class of GABA receptor modulator which can be administered parentally and through the respiratory air,” Bochum Professor Hanns Hatt said in a statement. “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.”

Now the scientists plan to experiment with altering the scent’s chemical structure to achieve even stronger effects, the statement said.

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