What you will learn in this post:
Terpenes are natures’ essential oils. The cannabis plant produces an abundant number of these terpenes as part of its defense mechanism to repel predators and protect against mold, fungus, and bacteria. The cannabinoids and terpenes created by various cannabis chemovars work together within bodily systems to create unique effects for every individual. (1)
The linalool terpene is found in moderate amounts throughout various cannabis chemovars and is the most abundant terpene found in Lavender. Linalool is also found in rosemary, bergamot, eucalyptus, and sweet basil. (2)
How Does Linalool Work?
The historical use of terpenes in medicine includes resins, balms, and oils. Historically, oils containing linalool, like frankincense, have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine as a treatment for pain and inflammation.
So what exactly is linalool and how does it work?
Linalool is a monoterpene produced as two different enantiomers, which are isomers that mirror each other. In the case of the linalool terpene, those are (R)-linalool and (S)-linalool. The linalool terpene has a sweet, floral, and woody scent. The prominence of the aroma is dependent on which enantiomer it is, with (R)-linalool producing a more pungent odor than (S)-linalool. (2)
Research is unclear about the specific mechanisms by which linalool may interact with cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. While the majority of consumers and manufacturers adhere to the entourage effect, research that terpenes modulate the endocannabinoid system through the cannabinoid receptors, or work together with cannabinoids, is unclear and there are conflicting study results. (3)(5)
Linalool can be smoked, vaped, ingested, and applied topically, with inhalation providing the most bioavailability.
Potential Benefits of Linalool
Looking toward the human research on linalool benefits, early evidence supports the linalool terpene as being anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anti-depressant, sedative, and analgesic. However, many studies are in the early stages, using either small control groups, quantities of the terpene that far exceed what is found in commercial cannabis products, or focus on linalool-containing products rather than the terpene itself. So despite promising early findings, linalool – particularly in the quantities found in cannabis products – is not an accepted treatment for any of the conditions listed below.
- Analgesic. Human trials demonstrated that inhalation and topical application of lavender essential oil can be effective for individuals with pain, including pain for women after a cesarean section. Other research reported inhalation of lavender essential oil may help with migraines and reduce demand for opioids after surgery. (4)
- Anti-bacterial. Research from 2018 details that linalool and a number of essential oils containing linalool demonstrate antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, particularly against E. Coli, gingivitis, strep, and more. (6)
- Anti-depressant. Like its anti-anxiety mechanisms of action, linalool may produce its anti-depressant effects via the 5HT1A receptor. According to a research review from 2013, human clinical trials demonstrated that patients with depression treated with lavender tincture had an improvement in their symptoms. (4)
- Anti-inflammatory. In Chinese medicine, frankincense oil has been widely used as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Research from 2018 appears to support this traditional use, indicating that linalool produces these anti-inflammatory effects through inhibition of nitric oxide (NO).
- Anxiolytic. Human studies demonstrated that lavender essential oil was more effective than the placebo for individuals with anxiety disorder. (4)
- Sedative. The sedative effects of linalool have been reported in several human clinical trials. The most effective method of use for treating insomnia or improving sleep is indicated to be inhalation via diffuser. (4)
These early findings have prompted additional research into the role linalool might play as an anti-cancer, anti-convulsant, anti-proliferative, neuroprotectant and treatment for Alzheimer’s. However, as with other studies, a great deal more research is needed before we can draw definitive conclusions about linalool’s potential benefits.
- Alzheimer’s. Linalool may prove beneficial for treating Alzheimer's due to its ability to reduce amyloid-beta plaque buildup in the brain. Linalool has been found to inhibit the release of acetylcholine. The cholinergic system has been suggested to be involved in the analgesic, anxiolytic, anti-depressant, and anticonvulsant properties of linalool. (2)(6)
- Anti-cancer and anti-proliferative. Early research has demonstrated in cell lines that linalool may be acting through a number of mechanisms to cause cancer cell death to prevent growth and spread. (6)
- Anticonvulsant. The anticonvulsant properties of linalool may be correlated to how linalool blocks glutamate receptors and inhibits the release of acetylcholine. (2)(6)
- Neuroprotectant. A recent 2021 study demonstrated that linalool decreases tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) induced inflammation in brain cells, supporting the idea that linalool has neuroprotectant and anti-inflammatory benefits. (2)
The many potential benefits have made linalool one of the more popular terpenes found in cannabis. But consumers should note that the quantities found in commercial products are much lower than those used in the above studies, and many claims about the terpene’s healthcare applications are inaccurate or overstated.
Cannabis Strains High in Linalool
Today, linalool is a common ingredient in various skin and hair care products and, most widely, essential oils like lavender, bergamot, eucalyptus, and frankincense. Strains that are known to have higher levels of linalool include:
- LA Confidential
- Lavender Kush
- Granddaddy Purple
- Scooby Snacks
- OG Kush
- Many of the GSC and OG phenotypes. (7)
It is important to note that while linalool can be found in these various chemovars, the growing methods and environment influence the production of terpenes like linalool. So while one variety of Granddaddy Purple may have high levels of the linalool terpene, another from a different environment may have lower levels.
Linalool is a fairly common terpene found in the more floral and sweet-smelling cannabis cultivars and is typically one of the five most common terpenes in many of the relaxing chemovars you can find.
The evidence presented in this article is based on human, animal, and in vitro studies. More research is needed to confirm these potential benefits in humans, but there are some promising early results, and we’ll update this article when further studies are available.
- Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;163(7):1344-1364. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
- Weston-Green K, Clunas H, Jimenez Naranjo C. A Review of the Potential Use of Pinene and Linalool as Terpene-Based Medicines for Brain Health: Discovering Novel Therapeutics in the Flavours and Fragrances of Cannabis. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2021;12. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2021.583211
- Heblinski M, Santiago M, Fletcher C, et al. Terpenoids Commonly Found in Cannabis sativa Do Not Modulate the Actions of Phytocannabinoids or Endocannabinoids on TRPA1 and TRPV1 Channels. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2020;5(4). doi:10.1089/can.2019.0099
- Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;2013:1-10. doi:10.1155/2013/681304
- LaVigne JE, Hecksel R, Keresztes A, Streicher JM. Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity. Scientific Reports. 2021;11(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-021-87740-8
- Pereira I, Severino P, Santos AC, Silva AM, Souto EB. Linalool bioactive properties and potential applicability in drug delivery systems. Colloids and Surfaces B, Biointerfaces. 2018;171:566-578. doi:10.1016/j.colsurfb.2018.08.001
- Fischedick JT. Identification of Terpenoid Chemotypes Among High (−)-trans-Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol-Producing Cannabis sativa L. Cultivars. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2017;2(1):34-47. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0040
The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.