Scientists initially found that terpenes were responsible for cannabis’s smell and taste. However, more recent studies suggest that terpenes, like linalool, contribute to the user’s overall high and potentially add many of their own medical benefits.
There are hundreds of terpenes but most of them are only present in trace quantities. The individual effects of molecules are difficult to interpret because they are in such low concentrations. But, several compounds appear in large quantities where their individual effects may be apparent. Linalool and myrcene, for example, are among the mostsmell prevalent terpenes and may work alongside THC to offer a unique high.
While pure linalool is not psychoactive (it will not get you high), it seems to work alongside other compounds to produce a sedative effect.
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.
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 is Linalool Found in?
Linalool is produced by 200 plant species, and If we take spices alone, over 60 of them contain linalool.
It is most common and abundant in lavender, but substantial amounts are also found in mint, cinnamon, rosewoods, and citrus fruits. Linalool is also present in birch trees and even certain fungi.
Where is Linalool Used?
Linalool’s main use is in cosmetics, but that is not all. It is also used in soaps, detergents, household products, pesticidal pet products, as well as being a very common flavoring in beverages and foods.
Since its discovery, linalool has been in high demand due to its extremely pleasant smell that could not be provided by anything else. The natural production could not meet the demand and in the late 19th century its synthetic form started being produced. According to a study, consumption in 1988 of synthetic linalool in the flavor and fragrance industry was estimated at 8 million lbs. worldwide; North American consumption was estimated at 2.2 million lbs. Linalool can be found in 3 out of 4 perfumed hygiene products.
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.
The aroma of linalool
Linalool is not specific to cannabis. Its characteristic lavender scent with a hint of spiciness is common to over 200 types of plants. In fact, it’s so common that even those who don’t use cannabis end up consuming over two grams of linalool each year through their food. That may seem like a lot, but there’s very little risk of adverse effects. Linalool doesn’t stick around in your body for long and doesn’t accumulate like the cannabinoids that get stored in your fatty tissues in the body and brain.
LINALOOL AND CANNABIS
The beneficial effects of THC, CBD, and terpenes like linalool are mutually enhanced by each other. This is known as the entourage effect. The cannabinoids themselves are anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, sedative, and analgesic. The subtle interactions between these compounds are enjoyed by the recreational smoker as different highs. The medical consumer will recognise these molecular interactions as why one species seems to treat their condition better than others. Some cannabis strains with a known high linalool content are Amnesia Haze and Special Kush.
The effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine is due to the interaction of hundreds of plant constituents, often including linalool. As research progresses, cannabis is proving to be a therapeutic powerhouse full of health-promoting compounds. Breeders and researchers are working hard to tailor-make strains to target specific ailments. Infinite customisation of cannabis designed for specific purposes is on the near horizon.
Cannabis strains containing linalool
Few cannabis strains contain high levels of linalool; it rarely breaks into a strain’s top three most abundant terpenes. But below, you’ll find a few strains featuring linalool as its third most abundant terpene.
- Scooby Snacks
The strain Do-Si-Dos contains a higher-than-average amount of linalool, but it’s still only the third most abundant terpene in its profile on average. It appears as the color purple in Leafly strain flowers, like Do-Si-Dos’ above.
Linalool’s potential benefits
Why would so many different plants produce linalool? Its anti-microbial properties are protective for the plant and represent a potential therapeutic use in people. Whether it was used as an early antibiotic is unknown, but linalool (often in the form of lavender or peanut stems and leaves) has been used in traditional medicine practices for its sedative and anti-epileptic properties.
Mice exposed to linalool vapors show reduced levels of anxiety and lower depression-like behaviors. In these tests, mice exposed to linalool vapors spend more time in fear-inducing environments, and they’ll continue to work to escape a seemingly hopeless situation. It’s not exactly like testing anxiety and depression in the clinic, but in these well-validated measures, linalool appears to help.
Linalool also makes the immune system more resilient to the destructive effects of stress. Stress causes a shift in the distribution of white blood cells in the body (i.e., the cells of the immune system); the percent of lymphocytes decrease, and neutrophils increase. In rats, linalool prevented this shift, and in doing so, prevented the stress-induced changes in how the rats’ DNA was expressed. Interestingly, the authors reasoned that this protection was mediated by linalool’s ability to activate the body’s parasympathetic response, which is activated when the body is resting and digesting food, thereby fitting with linalool’s anti-anxiety effects.