What is Geraniol?

What is geraniol?
By Rachel Sims Published May 28th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

There’s a lot more to cannabis than CBD, THC, or even the other 100+ cannabinoids in the plant. Similar to all botanicals, terpenes play a role in each cannabis strain’s unique aroma and flavor notes. These aromatic molecules may even shape how a strain makes consumers feel.1

One such potentially effective terpene is geraniol, which may have anti-inflammatory effects, antioxidant properties, and more. What is geraniol? How does it differ from other terpenes? And what makes it special?

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What is Geraniol?

Terpenes are organic compounds found in most plants, including cannabis. They’re responsible for the aroma and flavor of each plant. These aromatic molecules provide a diverse range of scents, from citrusy or floral to earthy and woody. Of these, researchers have discovered over 120 terpenes within the cannabis plant. Each carries its own flavor and aroma profile and potential benefits.2

Researchers classify each terpene as either a diterpene, monoterpene, sesquiterpene, triterpene or a miscellaneous compound. Geraniol is classified as a monoterpene alcohol that delivers a pleasant, rose-like aroma.3

The molecule is an important ingredient in several essential oils, including various blends. The geraniol terpene is often used as a fragrance compound, typically in household or cosmetic products. It occurs naturally in a plethora of plants, including geraniums and roses. Interestingly, honeybees actually make the terpene in their scent glands.4

Geraniol shares similarities with some other terpenes, including linalool and citronellol. These molecules also contribute to floral, citrusy aromas in plants and essential oils. Geraniol's structure is like nerol, another monoterpene used as a rose scent ingredient.

While it smells nice, geraniol also has several biological functions. It has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. These factors help explain why terpenes gained so much attention in recent years.

What Does Geraniol Smell Like?

What does geraniol smell like?

Geraniol is a renowned monoterpenic alcohol with sweet, floral notes and a delightful rose-like aroma. In fact, it's partially responsible for the way roses smell. Thanks to its pleasant fragrance, geraniol oil is a sought-after ingredient in various essential oils.

There may also be subtle hints of a citrusy fruit aroma. Geraniol tastes like a sweet-flowered rose with mild citrus, but waxy nuances undertow. The combination adds depth to its scent profile, making it a go-to in some popular commercial products.

Geraniol's versatility in smell and taste makes it popular across various industries. It's used as a fragrance compound in both cosmetic and household products.

The food and beverage industries use geraniol as a flavoring agent, adding floral, citrusy notes to the final product.

Overall, geraniol is a valuable component in essential oils, fragrances, flavorings, and cannabis strains alike. Beyond aromatherapy, the terpene may deliver other potential benefits and noticeable effects.

Effects and Benefits of Geraniol

Geraniol demonstrates several possible benefits, according to current research. Studies find that the geraniol terpene may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, giving it effects that may help in combating symptoms of inflammatory conditions.

The terpene's antioxidant properties may help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. While it’s still in early research, these effects may help slow down aging and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Some studies also examine the activity of geraniol against certain types of cancer. However, there are no definitive answers yet. More research is necessary before confirming geraniol’s effects on cancer or any other condition. Until then, geraniol at least shows promise.

In addition to its therapeutic possibilities, geraniol could be a natural pest deterrent when added to household or agricultural products. 

Other geraniol terpene effects may have more to do with its synergy with other cannabis components in a strain. Called the entourage effect, it can play a role in how each compound affects you as they work throughout the body. The effect is why some medical cannabis might be just as effective as opiates for neuropathic pain, according to a new survey.

What Other Plants Contain Geraniol?

What other plants contain geraniol?

The geraniol terpene isn’t exclusive to cannabis. In fact, among terpenes, geraniol is found in almost all plants. From common herbs and spices, like coriander and nutmeg, to fruits and vegetables, like raspberries, blueberries, and carrots, geraniol is quite a plant-based active substance. Some vegetation that includes geraniol is:

Scented Geraniums

Grown for their fragrant leaves, Pelargonium, or scented geraniums, which are known for their sweet, floral aroma. Similar to roses, geraniol is responsible for its pleasant scent. While geranium doesn’t have a lot in common with cannabis, its aroma may help combat symptoms of stress.


Stop and smell the roses? More like stop and smell the geraniol! The signature blossomy delightful aroma of the rose comes from this terpene. While not intoxicating, roses may have antioxidant, antibacterial, and even anti-inflammatory effects.

Citronella Grass

Famous for its lemony fragrance, citronella grass owes its aroma to geraniol. It's not uncommon to see the plant in candles and insect repellents to keep bugs at bay. Citronella is where the geraniol insecticide properties truly shine.


The citrus notes from geraniol come to life in the lemongrass plant. It's often used in cooking and aromatherapy and as an insect repellant. The geraniol-rich herb may have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.5


Thyme has a slightly floral, fresh scent with rosemary and a touch of lemon. It's a common staple herb to have in household pantries, rich in vitamins A and C. 


Bergamot has a unique scent profile. It’s a blend of a tart, ripe lemon with sweet and spicy notes and, finally, a floral finish. Research suggests bergamot extract may reduce stress, inflammation, anxiety, and more. It may also help improve sleep and cognitive function.6

What Conditions Can Geraniol Help With?

According to current research, there are several conditions geraniol may help with. Several studies show that geraniol may aid in the fight against various types of cancer, including bowel, kidney, liver, prostate, and skin.

Other studies examine the geraniol terpene's effects on ulcerative colitis. Geraniol oil administration may decrease certain intestinal damage. It may serve well in preventative health, with its inhibitory effects.

Likewise, geraniol extract may exert a cardioprotective effect against cardiac dysfunction caused by diabetes. It may inhibit oxidative stress, posing a potential option for treating or reducing diabetes.

Finally, geraniol may exhibit antinociceptive activity, which blocks your body's pain signals, reducing symptoms of pain. This points towards geraniol pairing well with medical cannabis for further research on pain relief and regulation.7

Best Strains for Geraniol

Best strains for geraniol

The strains below are well-known, in part, for their high geraniol terpene content. Each has unique aromas, flavors, and effects that suit different preferences and therapeutic needs.

Agent Orange

A well-balanced hybrid, Agent Orange consumers enjoy its motivating, uplifting effects. An excellent mood enhancer, it has a fresh, pleasant aroma of freshly-cut citrus.

Black Cherry Soda

Named after its dark color and soda-like, fruity flavor, Black Cherry Soda is a unique hybrid. Its consumers report balanced effects on the mind and body. It hits without heavy sedation, making it a go-to for treating severe symptoms during the day.

Tahoe OG

While it's a hybrid, Tahoe OG might only share the sativa-like euphoria. Otherwise, it leans into its indica side, delivering a heavy body effect. It's become a must-try for some consumers seeking a better night's sleep.

Strawberry Diesel

Novice consumers should use caution, as Strawberry Diesel is often intense and fast-acting. The versatile strain provides some with a clear-headed, energizing effect. In the evening, it can help relax the muscles and ease its consumers to sleep.


Also known as Fruity Pebbles OG, FPOG is a powerful hybrid. Its consumers note its ability to help relax the mind and, as a result, relieve stress. Its sweet genetics lend it to be a suitable nighttime strain.

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  1. Masyita A, Mustika Sari R, Dwi Astuti A, et al. Terpenes and terpenoids as main bioactive compounds of essential oils, their roles in human health and potential application as natural food preservatives. Food Chem X. 2022;13:100217. Published 2022 Jan 19. doi:10.1016/j.fochx.2022.100217 ↩︎
  2. adwan MM, Chandra S, Gul S, ElSohly MA. Cannabinoids, Phenolics, Terpenes and Alkaloids of Cannabis. Molecules. 2021; 26(9):2774. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26092774 ↩︎
  3. Mączka W, Wińska K, Grabarczyk M. One Hundred Faces of Geraniol. Molecules. 2020;25(14):3303. Published 2020 Jul 21. doi:10.3390/molecules25143303  ↩︎
  4. Tomko AM, Whynot EG, Ellis LD, Dupré DJ. Anti-Cancer Potential of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids Present in Cannabis. Cancers. 2020; 12(7):1985. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12071985 ↩︎
  5. Mukarram M, Choudhary S, Khan MA, et al. Lemongrass Essential Oil Components with Antimicrobial and Anticancer Activities. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021;11(1):20. Published 2021 Dec 22. doi:10.3390/antiox11010020 ↩︎
  6. Perna S, Spadaccini D, Botteri L, et al. Efficacy of bergamot: From anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative mechanisms to clinical applications as preventive agent for cardiovascular morbidity, skin diseases, and mood alterations. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(2):369-384. Published 2019 Jan 25. doi:10.1002/fsn3.903 ↩︎
  7. Lei Y, Fu P, Jun X, Cheng P. Pharmacological Properties of Geraniol – A Review. Planta Medica. 2018;85(01):48-55. doi:https://doi.org/10.1055/a-0750-6907 ↩︎

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.

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