• the Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences


Review Article

Exp Neurobiol 2020; 29(2): 120-129

Published online April 30, 2020

© The Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences

Sleep-enhancing Effects of Phytoncide Via Behavioral, Electrophysiological, and Molecular Modeling Approaches

Junsung Woo1 and C. Justin Lee2*

1Center for Cell and Gene Th erapy, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA,
2Center for Cognition and Sociality, Institute for Basic Science, Daejeon 34126, Korea

Correspondence to: *To whom correspondence should be addressed.
TEL: 82-42-878-9155, FAX: 82-42-878-9151

Received: March 31, 2020; Revised: April 24, 2020; Accepted: April 27, 2020

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License
( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Sleep is indispensable for living animals to live and maintain a normal life. Due to the growing number of people suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia, there have been increasing interests in environmentally friendly therapeutic approaches for sleep disorders to avoid any side effects of pharmacological treatment using synthetic hypnotics. It has been widely accepted that the various beneficial effects of forest, such as relieving stress and anxiety and enhancing immune system function, are caused by plant-derived products, also known as phytoncide. Recently, it has been reported that the sleep-enhancing effects of phytoncide are derived from pine trees such as (-)-α-pinene and 3-carene. These are the major constituents of pine tree that potentiate the inhibitory synaptic responses by acting as a positive modulator for GABAA-BZD receptor. In this review, we discuss the effects of phytoncide on sleep and review the latest approaches of sleep-related behavioral assay, electrophysiological recording, and molecular modeling technique.

Graphical Abstract

Keywords: Sleep, GABAA-BZD receptor, Phytoncide