Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
As the legal cannabis industry has grown and changed over the past two years, we’ve gained a better understanding of how and why medical cannabis works the way it does for so many patients. Researchers have developed a far greater understanding of terpenes in research and science.
These naturally derived compounds all have unique effects and supplement the cannabis product you’re using in exciting and unique ways. The terpene we want to focus on today is eucalyptol, the ‘minty’ terpene with a refreshing, cooling effect. Eucalyptol may help with respiritory disorders, especially when used in combination with terpenes like pinene. Terpenes like delta-3-carene also have some similar “refreshing” qualities. Other potential uses include memory loss prevention and pain relief.
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What is Eucalyptol?
So what exactly is eucalyptol, and what does it do? This clear oily liquid can be extracted from plant matter, including cannabis, and used in various ways. Often found in plants like wormwood and sagebrush, along with spices like cardamom, rosemary, bay leaves, and sage, this essential oil has a refreshing, minty flavor when consumed orally. And of course, the most similar sounding plant with plentiful eucalyptol is the eucalyptus tree, the staple diet of Australia’s favorite koala.
Eucalyptol is a food industry darling. Along with its natural presence in many ingredients that add lots of flavor to food, eucalyptol oil is often used to add a minty and refreshing aftertaste to products like mouthwash and cough drops. Eucalyptol also makes up about 90 percent of the formula known as eucalyptus oil, often used as apharmaceutical, antiseptic, repellent, flavoring, and fragrance additive. What many might not know, however, is that eucalyptol oil can be used as an effective treatment for a laundry list of medical ailments with very few side effects.
Researchers and clinical trials have shown that doses of eucalyptol offer a range of health benefits. It can:
- Help to relieve sinus and nasal congestion.
- Improve breathing issues like asthma.
- Be somewhat productive at relieving pain.
- Show potential as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.
- Improve cognitive function in older people when used consistently.
For example, this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study showed that it’s safe and effective to use eucalyptol oils orally to treat rhinosinusitis, a common sinus infection. Treating a common infection with natural and accessible ingredients is a significant step forward for safe, affordable, and effective treatments that are divorced from the big pharma system.
Another research article showed that eucalyptus oil inhalation had a measurable effect on pain and inflammation for those recovering from knee replacement operations—this terpene’s potential as an anti-inflammatory and large amounts of eucalyptol present in eucalyptus oil.
A recent 2020 study showed that eucalyptol profoundly affected Japanese nursing home residents’ cognitive function when inhaled over set periods. What’s even more interesting about this study is that the residents showed improved function in testing even when they inhaled small enough oil doses to not even detect that it had been dosed.
While the clinical research on eucalyptol is still in its early stages, the medical potential of this terpene is clear. Eucalyptol is already used in medicinal products to treat bronchitis, sinusitis, chronic rhinitis, asthma, and rhinosinusitis. Early animal research has shown its potential to improve long-term memory function in people of all ages and even suppress the growth of cancer cells.
Since everyone is different and has different health ailments, it’s essential to consult with your certified cannabis doctor and general practitioner before starting or ending any ongoing treatments you’re currently using to manage symptoms.
Potential Risks/Side Effects
It’s important to note that while eucalyptol has profound effects and medical potential on the people who use it effectively, just like any other medication, it may have significant side effects and downsides if used excessively or incorrectly.
Eucalyptol itself is pretty much harmless and free of side effects as long as it’s used correctly. On the other hand, Eucalyptus oil carries a far more severe list of potential issues if taken in extreme excess. Eucalyptus poisoning can cause stomach pain, dizziness, muscle weakness, feelings of suffocation, drowsiness, seizures, and coma.
These issues, however, are exceedingly rare and only occur when users take large and consistent amounts of eucalyptol. As long as you use this terpene in moderation and consult with your certified cannabis doctor and general practitioner, you’ll likely get all of the benefits without any of the risks when it comes to eucalyptol.
Cannabis Strains High in Eucalyptol
These high-eucalyptol strains not only include this helpful terpene but a variety of other cannabinoids and terpenes as well. That mix of different compounds allows users to take full advantage of the entourage effect and helps you get the most out of your medicine.
So without further ado, here are some of our picks when it comes to eucalyptol-rich strains:
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Dutch Treat
- Super Silver Haze
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is eucalyptol the same as eucalyptus?
From a chemical composition standpoint, the two are pretty much the same. Most eucalyptus oil is about 90 percent eucalyptol. The core difference between eucalyptus oil and eucalyptol is the presence of cineol. Most commercial essential oils you can buy have high amounts of cineol, leading to adverse health issues in large doses. To avoid those problems, those seeking to get the benefits of eucalyptol without the risks often avoid eucalyptus oil.
What are the side effects of eucalyptol?
Side effects and symptoms of consuming too much eucalyptol include, but are not limited to, issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. These issues are exceedingly rare and only occur when users take large and consistent amounts of eucalyptol. As long as you use this terpene in moderation and consult with your certified cannabis doctor and general practitioner, you’ll likely get all of the benefits without any of the risks when it comes to eucalyptol.
Is eucalyptol an antiseptic?
Yes, it is. Eucalyptol is so effective as an oral antiseptic, for example, that it’s been used in Listerine mouthwash for more than 100 years.