Eucalyptus Tree, Mint, Sage, Tea Tree
Minty, Cool, Spicy
This is the 11th 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.”
Eucalyptol, also known as cineol, is a terpene with a distinctive menthol aroma. If you’ve ever detected a pleasurably cooling scent in cannabis – reminiscent most strongly of eucalyptus but also mint and tea tree oil – you might be picking up on its eucalyptol content. This terpene can be found in strains such as Super Silver Haze, GSC, Headband, and Bubba Kush.
A budding body of evidence suggests that terpenes do much more than provide cannabis strains their characteristic scents; they’re also collaborating with our body to create some medicinally beneficial interactions. In the case of eucalyptol, this terpene has a lot to offer beyond its scent profile. While the terpene isn’t nearly as abundant as myrcene or limonene, this lesser molecule makes up for its relative scarcity – typically around .06% of a given strain’s terpene profile – with powerful medicinal qualities. As with everything in the world of cannabis, research is still ongoing, but here are some things we know about the benefits of eucalyptol.
Researchers have known for nearly 20 years that eucalyptol has the potential to fight pain by acting as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Since then, studies have suggested the terpene’s effectiveness in combating sinus and colon inflammation. Scientists continued to test the anti-inflammatory benefits of eucalyptol and, in 2013, another study concluded that this terpene could also be used to treat pancreatitis.
On a similar note, eucalyptol may have a role to play in treating asthma, a common inflammatory disease. A study published in 1998 and another in 2012 both point to the effectiveness of this widespread disease, which currently afflicts some 1 in 13 Americans.
While definitive results are likely years away, it appears that eucalyptol’s potent anti-inflammatory quality may combat Alzheimer’s disease, both by reducing neuroinflammation and possibly even by improving cognition and memory.
In a roughly similar fashion as tea tree oil – which it superficially resembles in aroma – eucalyptol exhibits powerful anti-bacterial effects, having shown itself effective against E. coli, Enterobacter, and Staphylococcus. As the threat of antibiotic-resistant microbes grows, natural alternatives such as eucalyptol may find themselves with an important role to play.
Perhaps the most profound aspect of cineol is the molecule’s anticancer action. A 2002 paper published within Oncology Reports details an investigation in which cineol was administered to human leukemia cell lines. The researchers found that cineol suppressed the growth of the leukemia cell lines due to inducing apoptosis.
Apoptosis is described as programmed cell death and is required in the body to maintain normal cell turnover and proper function of the immune system. Too little or too much apoptosis can be the cause of numerous health conditions, including many types of cancers, which are the result of cell mutation. The ability of cineol to suppress cancer cell line growth and to induce apoptosis makes it a potential future therapeutic within the domain of cancer treatments.
This organic compound, first identified by Francois Stanislas Cloez in 1870, can also be found in eucalyptus, mint, rosemary, tea tree, mugwort, bay leaves, sweet basil, and sage. The potent, cooling, yet spicy aroma has been used throughout various industries and is often found within cosmetics, lotions, essential oil blends, balms, toothpaste, and cough drops.
Eucalyptol (cineol) can be topically applied to the skin, gums, or other areas. It can also be taken orally by being inhaled, drank as a tincture, or eaten. When taken orally or applied topically it is important to dilute the strength of the essential oil. In high enough doses, like with all chemicals, eucalyptol is toxic and can cause death.
Understanding individual terpene characteristics can play a key factor in selecting the ideal strain. Whether inhaled or used aromatically or topically, eucalyptol can be a key component in the broad spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids that maximize the therapeutic effects cannabis may provide. Feel free to email us to assist with any questions you may have.