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Nepeta cataria L. var. citriodora (Becker) increases penile erection in rats

Bernardi, Maria Martha, Kirsten, Thiago Berti, Lago, João Henrique Ghilardi, Giovani, Tatiana Marisis, Massoco, Cristina de Oliveira
Journal of ethnopharmacology 2011 v.137 no.3 pp. 1318-1322
Nepeta cataria, cats, feeding behavior, humans, leaves, rats, sexual behavior
ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Nepeta cataria (NC), catnip, induces pleasure in cats and humans. AIM OF THE STUDY: Because sexual behavior is involved in pleasure, the effect of NC on sexual behavior and penile erection was evaluated in male rats that were acutely fed chow enriched with 10% NC leaves. Further, yawning was monitored because we previously demonstrated that NC modifies dopaminergic-related behaviors and that sexual behavior is closely linked with the dopaminergic system. The general activity and the motor coordination were examined to investigate the possible motor and emotional interferences of the sexual performance. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Male rats of the NC group received for a 4h period the chow enriched with 10% NC leaves while the control groups received regular chow. Fifteen min after the end of the 4h period of NC feeding the sexual behavior, apomorphine-induced penile erection and motor coordination were observed; the general activity in the open field was assessed 0, 15, 30 and 60min after treatment. RESULTS: NC treatment increased male rat's penile erection. A slightly facilitation on male rat sexual behavior and a decreased in general activity of NC treated rats were observed. No effects on motor coordination and yawning episodes were detected by the NC treatment. CONCLUSIONS: It was suggested that NC increases penile erection and slightly improves male rat sexual behavior by an action on dopaminergic systems.