Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two active ingredients in cannabis that get the most attention. But these cannabinoids aren’t the only stars in this potent plant medicine. Some of cannabis’s other active ingredients, called terpenes, also play a huge role in creating the unique effects, therapeutic benefits, aromas and flavours that characterize different cannabis strains.
One abundant terpene is linalool, a fragrant floral terpene known for its calming and sedative effects. It can help folks:
- Relax into a better sleep
- Boost the immune system
- Calm anxious thoughts
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are a class of chemicals found in cannabis, as well as in other plants and living creatures. Of the over 400 chemicals already identified in cannabis, around 200 are terpenes, while only 60 are cannabinoids (the compounds that are unique to cannabis alone).
While cannabinoids like THC and CBD are often discussed as the most important factors in cannabis’s effects, terpenes play a crucial role, too. Not only are they responsible for much of the smell and taste we perceive in cannabis, but terpenes can also be the biggest factor in the experiential differences between different cannabis strains.
Like cannabinoids, terpenes are also subject to the entourage effect. This means that they work synergistically together and may cause different effects depending on the other cannabinoids and terpenes present. In understanding terpenes, it’s important to notice how they work together to create so many different potential effects.
What Is Linalool?
This naturally occurring chemical is found in cannabis as well as in over 200 other plants. You can find linalool in plants, trees and spices, like:
- Laurel trees
- Birch trees
The scent and flavour of linalool are usually described as floral, woody and sweet, sometimes with spicy, green or tropical notes. Some describe the terpene’s aroma as reminiscent of a combination of bergamot oil and French lavender. This pleasant fragrance and flavour profile is the main reason people use linalool. It’s a common additive in foods as well as bath and body products.
Therapeutic Uses for Linalool
Linalool has many uses when it comes to flavour and aroma. Still, research on linalool suggests it’s more than just a sweet-smelling fragrance and flavouring agent. It may also have powerful therapeutic effects, which are just beginning to be understood.
Linalool Seems to Reduce Anxiety & Depression
Several studies suggest that linalool may help ease anxiety and depression. In one study, rats that inhaled linalool while under stressful conditions were able to return their stress levels to normal after exposure to the terpene.
In another study, mice exposed to linalool vapours showed similar antianxiety responses, staying for a longer duration in fear-inducing situations, or working longer to escape seemingly hopeless situations.
While well-designed human testing is needed to confirm that linalool can reduce anxiety and depression in people, these rodent studies provide good evidence to suggest it may be a helpful treatment in promoting calm and boosting mood.
Linalool May Help Promote Restful Sleep
Linalool is also known for its sleep-inducing properties, which makes sense since lavender’s a traditional remedy for relaxing into sleep.
In the same antianxiety animal study where mice inhaled linalool vapours, the mice also showed increased sleep length when compared to controls.
This suggests linalool could help folks dealing with sleep issues, like insomnia.
Linalool Apears to Have Pain-Relieving Properties
Linalool may also help manage pain. In one study, mice treated with linalool showed fewer pain-related behaviours in response to pain.
This has a lot to do with the way that linalool is able to modulate pain signaling in the brain, and even reduce the body’s natural stress response to pain. For example, linalool can reduce excitability of cells that transmit pain signals to the brain. It can also dampen the signaling strength of acetylcholine, a chemical required to move and contract muscles.
The Immune System May Benefit From Linalool
Linalool has also been shown to help support the immune system. In one study, researchers restrained rats in order to induce stress. While rats not treated with linalool suffered stress-induced changes to their DNA expression, those that had been given linalool didn’t undergo stress-related changes.
The study’s authors suggest that this immune system protection is a result of linalool’s ability to activate the body’s parasympathetic response. This response is usually activated when the body is resting or digesting food, and it may also be related to linalool’s antianxiety effects.
While there are a lot of potential therapeutic uses for linalool, it’s important to remember that the research is in its early phases, and it’s not yet clear what the best treatment protocols would be to use linalool for therapeutic purposes.
If you’re interested in achieving a particular medicinal effect, it’s best to work with a doctor to make sure you’re on the right track.
How to Consume Linalool
If you’re interested in trying linalool for its therapeutic effects, the best way to get started is by trying out cannabis flowers or oils that already have linalool as part of the blend. One way to find out this information is look at the lab-test results.
If you don’t have access to the terpene profile information, you can also just look for cannabis strains known to have higher levels of linalool. Linalool tends to be more common in indica marijuana strains. Some examples of cannabis strains typically high in linalool are:
It’s also possible to get concentrated linalool, which you can add to your cannabis oils or use on its own.
Linalool is generally considered safe to use, and low risk because it doesn’t stick around and accumulate in the body. Still, it can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions for some, particularly when it’s from a synthetic source.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, like other terpenes, linalool breaks down when exposed to the higher temperatures (like when high-heat dabbing.) When this happens, it can release toxic fumes and carcinogens, so it’s best to consume linalool at lower temperatures.
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