This is the sixth 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.”

Linalool, a common terpene found in the cannabis plant, is popular in the medical cannabis world for its considerable uses and medicinal benefits. It can be found in higher quantities in strains such as Amnesia Haze, Lavender, Headband, and Ingrid

This terpene often plays a part in creating the distinctive odor of cannabis, which is a floral aroma that resembles lavender. Its characteristic lavender scent and flavor with a hint of spiciness is common in over 200 types of plants. It’s a sedative known to invoke a sense of calmness, and relaxation. 

Similar to all major terpenes found in cannabis, linalool provides many benefits to patients. It acts as an anti-inflammatory (a characteristic of nearly all terpenes), is an analgesic, anti-depressant, and anticonvulsant (helpful for those with seizure disorders, such as epilepsy and Dravet Syndrome). Like myrcene, linalool is also a sedative.

This is all good news for patients pursuing a holistic approach to their health. Inflammation is a major component in the pain profile of cancers, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and arthritis.

Linalool has also been used as a natural soporific, anxiolytic, and topical skin application for millennia. Insomniacs of the Renaissance (and many people still today) kept parcels of lavender under their pillows, and it is still used for scar treatment today.

In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used as a treatment for anxiety and it has also been used as a sleep aid. Linalool is linked to the production of Vitamin E, which means that it is an important terpene to help support the healthy functioning of the human body.

The beneficial effects of THC, CBD, and terpenes like linalool are mutually enhanced by each other. This is known as the entourage effect. The cannabinoids themselves are anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, sedative, and analgesic. Patients will recognize these molecular interactions as why one strain seems to treat their condition better than others.

The three most promising applications of this terpene are its role as an anti-cancer agent, its ability to prevent seizures, and its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. Multiple studies have proven it to possess anti-cancer properties, most notably for liver cancer and lymphoma.

A study conducted in 2010 entitled “Anticonvulsant Activity of the Linalool Enantiomers” and published in the journal Natural Product Communications revealed that linalool is an effective anti-convulsant and that “Pretreatment of mice with linalool increased the latency of convulsions significantly.”

A 2008 study entitled “Antiproliferative Effects of Essential Oils and Their Major Constituents in Human Renal Adenocarcinoma” that was published in the journal Cell Proliferation found it to be an effective agent in fighting liver cancer. The study concluded, “Three identified terpenes, linalool, beta-caryophyllene and alpha-cedrol, were found to be active on both cell lines tested.”

A 2003 study entitled “Antileukemic Activity of Selected Natural Products in Taiwan” and published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine studied six “chemical classes of pure compounds present in commonly used medicinal plants.”

The study’s researchers concluded, “Water insoluble compounds, such as triterpenoids (oleanolic acid and ursolic acid), monoterpenes (linalool), and flavonoids (luteolin) possessed strong activity against human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines. Among them, linalool showed the strongest activity against histiocytic lymphoma cells.”

Yet another impressive therapeutic use for linalool is its emerging potential as a novel Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and currently irreversible disease caused by the buildup of brain plaques and cellular tangles that lead to brain degeneration. This degeneration causes severe memory and cognitive impairment. There are currently no cures for Alzheimer’s disease and current treatment strategies are largely ineffective at recovering function. This has set scientists on a quest to identify techniques that reduce plaques and tangles in an effort to reverse the disease’s course and recover normal brain function.

A promising study published in 2016 points to linalool as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment. In a genetic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, linalool reversed many of the behavioral and cognitive impairments associated with the disease. Further, it reduced the number of brain plaques and cellular tangles that define the disease and contribute to brain degeneration.

Linalool still faces many obstacles before it makes its way into the clinic. But these Alzheimer’s studies along with previous studies exhibiting benefits in pain, anxiety, and depression demonstrate the importance of continued research into the therapeutic benefits of linalool and other terpenes in cannabis.

Linalool is not specific to cannabis, it can also be found in lavender, mugwort, and basil. In fact, it’s so prevalent that even those who don’t use cannabis end up consuming in excess of two grams of linalool each year in their food. Linalool is colorless, or very pale yellow. It has a floral fragrance and it is commonly used in cleaning products, lipsticks, perfumes, shampoos and bubble bath. It can be extracted from plants, and it is also sometimes made synthetically.

Whether you’re looking to relax, relieve stress and anxiety, or treat one of the other more serious ailments, knowing how much Linalool is 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.

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