You’ve probably heard the term “terpene.” It's five times more likely to pop up in a Google search than it was just two years ago. That's because interest in terpenes has been growing among the cannabis community. But do you know why terpenes play such an important role in medical cannabis treatment?
In recent years, we’ve found that terpenes are responsible for more than each strain’s unique smell and flavor. Evidence suggests terpenes also contribute to the “entourage effect” of cannabis, meaning they work in synergy with other cannabis compounds such as THC and CBD to influence the plant’s effects.
Hundreds of terpenes occur in varying concentrations, but only a handful (known as primary terpenes) occur in concentrations great enough to treat medical conditions. This week, as part of our six-part terpene series, we’ll explain linalool, which scientists often test alongside myrcene for similar properties.
What Is Linalool?
Aromatherapy experts swear by the soothing effects of lavender, but the real trigger is linalool.
You’ll find this delicate, floral terpene in all sorts of lavender-based aromatherapy oils and cosmetics. In its natural state, linalool is found in more than 200 flowers and spices besides lavender, such as coriander, mint, cinnamon, and rosewood. Linalool even appears in some fungi. It is so widespread that people consume over two grams of linalool each year in food.
In cannabis, linalool is best known for its relaxing, stress-relieving, and mood-boosting effects.
What Does Linalool Treat?
A natural sedative, linalool has long been used in traditional and alternative medicine alike to treat:
- Anxiety and depression: In numerous studies, mice have shown lower levels of anxiety and depression-like behaviors when exposed to linalool.
- Epilepsy: Linalool blocks receptors for a brain chemical called glutamate, which can cause epilepsy in excess.
- Pain: Linalool can reduce pain in several ways: by targeting acetylcholine, the brain chemical responsible for muscle movement; by reducing the excitability of spinal cord cells that transmit pain signals to the brain; and by increasing the brain’s levels of adenosine, which controls heart rate.
- Stress: In rats, linalool has been found to activate the body’s parasympathetic response (also known as the “rest and digest” system), which conserves energy, slows your heart rate, and regulates stress levels in the immune system.
- Alzheimer’s disease: We don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s, but studies point to linalool as a potential treatment, since it can reduce the plaques responsible for brain degeneration.
- Opioid addiction: Studies show linalool makes recovery easier and could even reduce deaths if more people could access dispensaries.
Popular Strains (and What You Should Know Before Buying)
Looking for a cannabis strain high in linalool? Sniff out floral or lavender notes. Examples of strains that usually test high in linalool include:
- Amnesia Haze: An uplifting and energizing strain with an earthy, citrusy flavor. Best for depression, stress, and fatigue.
- Lavender: Sometimes referred to as Lavender Kush, this is a powerful relaxant great for pain and stress.
- LA Confidential: Known for its smooth, piney taste, this popular strain’s psychedelic and super-calming effects work well for stress, insomnia, and acute pain.
- Granddaddy Purple (or GDP): This potent indica hybrid inherits its grape and berry aroma from Purple Urkle and its dense bud structure from Big Bud. Its euphoric and relaxing effects combat a variety of issues, from stress and insomnia to pain and lack of appetite.
Linalool is so powerful that just the smell of it calms body and mind, but smoking or vaping provides the fastest and most effective relief. You can also add lavender oil to your cannabis for an added boost of relaxation.
For ingestion, try adding linalool extract to tea or other edibles. Another option: absorb linalool-based oil or cream into the skin to relax muscles or soothe irritation. And finally, a fun fact: linalool vapor repels insects.
Next week, we’re covering a terpene found just as often in skincare products and pesticides but with slightly different properties in cannabis: limonene.