Objective: To assess whether substances such as valerian and Melissa officinalis were able to change the levels of GABA and glutamate enzyme and hormone in animals subjected to sleep.
Methods and Materials: Six to eight-week-old female Wistar rats were purchased from Charles River (Calico, Italy). Animals were left to acclimate for 1 week before entering the study. Rats were then divided in five groups (ten animals per group) and stressed using the UCMS technique. Institutional and national guide for the care and use of laboratory animals was followed (Prot. N. 15-2013). MEL and VAL standardised extracts were supplied by Ginsana SA (Bioggio, Switzerland). The analytical markers for VAL are valerenic acids, and the fixed ratio herbal drug:dry extract = 4.5:1; while the MEL analytical marker is rosmarinic acid (> 1.8%) and the extract is standardised on the fixed ratio herbal drug:dry extract = 5:1.
Results: Three weeks of stress decreased the brain levels of GABA significantly (p < 0.001). The treatment with MEL or VAL increased the level of GABA in treated rats compared to untreated stressed animals, but the comparison was not statistically significant. However, the combined treatment with both extracts produced significantly higher levels of GABA than untreated stressed animals (p < 0.001) as well as to stressed animals treated with MEL (p < 0.001) or VAL (p < 0.01). The combined treatment restored the brain levels of GABA at the same levels of unstressed animals.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that the combined mechanism of action of the two extracts may induce a synergistic effect acting on two targets, inducing the normalisation of the hyperactive excitatory brain system seen during stressful conditions: MEL-inhibits GABA-T activity and increases the levels of GABA, and VAL acts on Group II mGluRs and decreases the release of glutamate.
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