This is the fifth installment in our weekly series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes,” published every Monday. For more information, read the introduction to this series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes: A Guide For Medical Marijuana Patients.”

Although it’s one of the less discussed terpenes, the benefits of Borneol are still considerable. Borneol is not extremely common in cannabis, but a few strains of cannabis offering more significant amounts of this terpene include Hazes, Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel and K-13.

Borneol emits scents of camphor, earth, and menthol; its scent is sometimes described as “herbal minty.” It’s calming effects are known to reduce stress, relieve pain and anxiety.

Borneol is a terpene in cannabis that plays a significant role in traditional Chinese medicine. Frequently referred to as moxa, this terpenoid was used in China as early as the 1600’s to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, lower anxiety, and cure heart disease. Still today, research progresses in learning more about the medical promise that borneol has to offer, and recent studies have shed light on its potential as a neuroprotectant, antioxidant, and drug potentiator.

This terpene offers many health benefits, including improved digestion (via the stimulation of gastric juices) and better blood circulation. It also effectively treats bronchial symptoms to improve lung function and ease breathing (helpful for sufferers of bronchitis and asthma). Like many of its sibling terpenes, it has been found to reduce anxiety.

Borneol also assists in the healing of wounds. Historically, it has been incorporated into topical treatments. Combined with other terpenes that convey sedative qualities – such as myrcene and Linalool – the terpene can effectively combat insomnia. It is also antibacterial and antiseptic.

Borneol exemplifies the dynamics of the entourage effect, a theory that cannabinoids and terpenes work together, synergistically, to offer particular therapeutic and medicinal benefits to humans via supplementation of the mammalian endocannabinoid system (ECS). Borneol amplifies the permeability of the blood/brain barrier, allowing other molecules and compounds to more efficiently bind with specialized receptors in the brain and central nervous system.

When isolated, it can act as an irritant to eyes, skin, and the respiratory system. As a good demonstration of the impact of accurate and strategic titration (dosing), at large doses, it is extremely toxic and harmful if swallowed. A “probable lethal dose” is 50-500 mg/kg of body weight, which equates to between only a teaspoon and an ounce for a 150-pound human.

Multiple studies have demonstrated the wide-ranging medicinal efficacy of the terpene, including its pronounced role as an anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, and cancer killer.

A 2017 study entitled “Terpenes from Forests and Human Health” and published in the journal Toxicological Research investigated how borneol reduced inflammation of the lungs. Concluded the researchers, “Borneol alleviated acute lung inflammation by reducing inflammatory infiltration, histopathological changes, and cytokine production.”

A 2013 study published in the journal PLOS ONE and entitled “Natural Borneol, a Monoterpenoid Compound, Potentiates Selenocystine-induced Apoptosis in Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells” revealed the anti-cancer properties of this terpene.

The study’s researchers concluded, “Borneol effectively synergized with SeC to reduce cancer cell growth through the triggering apoptotic cell death. These results reveal that borneol strongly potentiates SeC-induced apoptosis in cancer cells by enhancement of cellular uptake. Borneol could be further developed as a chemosensitizer of SeC in treatment of human cancers.”

Borneol is found in many plants other than cannabis, including camphor, mint, jasmine and rosemary. It is a natural insect repellent and is one of the most popular perfume making terpenes in the world. It was traditionally given the name Borneo camphor, denoting its relationship to camphor. Borneol can be isolated from camphor itself and also yields camphor when put through a process of oxidation.

Whether you’re looking to enhance your mood or relieve stress and anxiety, knowing how much borneol I’m in your medicine, as well as other terpenes that can work synergistically, can play a key factor in selecting the ideal strain. Feel free to email us to assist with any questions you may have.