Green Tea, Wild Lettuce, Citrus
This is the 19th 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.”
Phytol is considered an acyclic diterpene, present in cannabis extracts as a breakdown product of chlorophyll and tocopherol. While phytol does emanate a floral, grassy scent, it is not as aromatic as many other terpenes. Aside from its presence in cannabis strains such as Cheese or Sour Diesel, phytol is commonly found in green tea varieties, including sencha and matcha, and wild lettuce and citrus. Vitamin E or vitamin K supplements, or any multivitamin that contains these, also contain phytol. Given the popularity of tea and vitamin supplements, it’s likely many people have experienced the effects of this terpene unknowingly.
While the calming and therapeutic properties of tea cannot be entirely attributed to phytol, there is some indication that it does relieve anxiety and promote relaxation. Patients who consume cannabis strains containing phytol have described a sense of calm or a mild sedative effect.
Although terpene research remains in the preliminary stages, studies have shown that phytol offers an array of therapeutic and medicinal benefits. As more research and cannabis quality testing is completed, this terpene is likely to become accepted as one of the most salubrious compounds.
Inflammation is a very common component of pain, and many compounds that fight inflammation tend to relieve pain. Phytol is no exception, and several studies have shown the inter-related nature of phytol’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
A 2016 study published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology concluded that phytol could be used in the treatment or prevention of oxidative stress-mediated diseases (an extensive family of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders, among others). An earlier study by Brazilian researchers in 2013 found that phytol produced considerable pain-relief in animals. The scientists attributed this effect, in part, to phytol’s antioxidant properties.
Like many other terpenes and cannabinoids found in cannabis, phytol has demonstrable anti-tumor properties. A 2015 study indicated that it may be particularly effective for the treatment of liver cancer, however other studies support phytol’s ability to fight other kinds of tumors as well (such as breast cancer).
Through a shared mechanism (the brain’s use of the neurotransmitter GABA), phytol has shown promise as both an anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant treatment. Until now, these studies have only been conducted in animals, so more research is needed to understand phytol’s impacts on human health.
While many terpenes are used to protect plants from insect predators, phytol is used by insects to protect themselves from their own predators. It is often used as an organic miticide, pesticide, and fungicide. It fights unwanted invaders while preserving the beneficial insects and maintaining the healthy bacteria in the soil. When used as a topical, phytol is also known to reduce itching.
In addition to its therapeutic and medicinal benefits, phytol is a popular ingredient in fragrances, cosmetics, shampoos, and household cleaners.
Understanding individual terpene characteristics can play a key factor in selecting the ideal strain. Whether inhaled or used aromatically or topically, phytol 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.