Current Pharmacology Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 220–237 | Cite as

Recent Research Progress on the Antidepressant-like Effect and Neuropharmacological Potential of Gastrodia elata Blume

  • Yu-En Lin
  • Kuan-Hung Lu
  • Lee-Yan Sheen
Natural Products: From Chemistry to Pharmacology (C Ho, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Natural Products: From Chemistry to Pharmacology


Purpose of Review

Depression is a difficult and currently incurable mood disorder and the conventional therapies used as treatment are unsatisfactory nowadays. Therefore, there is an urgent demand to find alternative or complementary approaches to deal with depression. Gastrodia elata Blume (GE) is not only a traditional Chinese medicine but also a food material that has been widely used in treating numerous neurological disorders in East Asia, including migraine, seizure, and mood disorders. In the present review article, we summarized the antidepressant-like effects of GE that have been reported in animal studies and elucidate its cellular mechanisms.

Recent Findings

GE and its active compounds, gastrodin, 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, vanillin, and their derivatives have recently been reported to have intensive antidepressant-like effects in several animal models of depression, such as the forced swim test, the tail suspension test, and the chronic mild stress. The molecular mechanisms of GE-induced antidepressant-like effect are likely through regulation of neurotransmitters, antioxidation, antiinflammation, modulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, neurotrophic effects, regulation of stem cell, and enhancement of neuroplasticity and neuroprotection.


GE and its bioactive components have been shown to possess antidepressant-like effects in several well-conducted animal studies. Additionally, GE has been applied to manipulate mood disorders in Chinese medicine for many years. However, more accurate and specific initial targeting of the mechanism of action of GE, as well as the application of clinical trials, are warranted and deserve further investigation.


Depression Gastrodia elata Blume Gastrodin 4-Hydroxybenzyl alcohol Vanillin 



Alzheimer’s disease


Protein kinase B


Activator protein-1


N(6)-(3-methoxyl-4-hydroxybenzyl) adenine riboside


Bcl-2-associated X


Blood-brain barrier


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor




Chloride intracellular channel protein 4




cAMP responsive element binding protein


Chronic social defeat stress




Drebrin-like protein




Dentate gyrus


3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic acid




Dihydropyrimidinase-related protein 2


Extracellular regulated protein kinases 1/2


Forced swim test


γ-Aminobutyric acid


GABA transaminase


Glutamate decarboxylase


Glutamate-cysteine ligase regulatory subunit


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor


Gastrodia elata Blume


Glial fibrillary acidic protein




Glutathione peroxidase


Glutathione reductase


Glutathione disulfide


Hydrogen peroxide


Huntington’s disease






Heat shock protein 90


Homovanillic acid




IκB kinase




Inducible nitric oxide synthase


Isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation


c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase


Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1






Monoamine oxidase


Monoamine oxidase inhibitors


Microtubule associated protein 2


Mitogen-activated protein kinase




Major depressive disorder


Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase


Mps one binder kinase activator-like 3




Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


Neural cell adhesion molecule




Neuronal neuclei


Nuclear factor κB


N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor


Nitric oxide


Neuropeptide Y


NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase


Nuclear factor E2-related factor 2


Neuronal stem cells




Open field test


Oxygen-glucose deprivation followed by reperfusion


Protein kinase C and casein kinase substrate in neurons protein 2




Parkinson’s disease


Protein disulfide isomerase


PDZ and LIM domain protein 1/5


Profilin 1




Protein kinase A


Peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase A


Peroxiredoxin 6

Rho A

Ras homologous member A


Reactive oxygen species


Reticulon 1/4




Small Maf


Superoxide dismutase


Sex-determing region Y-box 2


Single prolonged stress


Selective serotonin (norepinephrine) reuptake inhibitors


Succinic semialdehyde


Tricyclic antidepressants


Traditional Chinese medicine


Tyrosine hydroxylase


Toll-like receptor


Tumor necrosis factor-alpha


Typtophan hydroxylase


Triosephosphate isomerase


Tropomyosin-related kinase B


Tail suspension test


Neuron-specific class III beta-tubulin


Ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase isozyme L1


(Unpredictable) chronic mild stress


Water extract of Gastrodia elata Blume


World Health Organization


4-Hydroxybenzyl alcohol




5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid







This work was supported in part by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology (NSC 97-2313-B-002-014-MY3 and MOST 104–2320-B-002–036-MY3) and the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan (105AS-16.1.1-CI-C2 and 106AS-16.1.1-CI-C2), Taiwan.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Yu-En Lin, Kuan-Hung Lu, and Lee-Yan Sheen declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Food Science and TechnologyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Center for Food and BiomoleculesNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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