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What is Isopulegol?

chemical structure of isopulegol beside a marijuana plant

Isopulegol, an aromatic terpene compound naturally found in the cannabis plant and herbs such as mint, geranium, and lemongrass, acts as the natural precursor for menthol and is renowned for its minty and fresh scent.

As one of the secondary terpenes found in cannabis, isopulegol is the compound responsible for providing the unmistakable fresh and minty scent of the cannabis plant. It can be found in lower or higher percentages depending on the cannabis strain, resulting in a range of aromas and fragrances for each type of strain.

Apart from smelling great, isopulegol also acts as a pest deterrent for plants that produce it. While keeping the plant safe from damage, the compound also attracts beneficial animals such as pollinators to ensure the plant’s survival and ability to thrive in the wild.

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Health Benefits of Isopulegol


Animal studies of mice conducted in 2009 have shown that isopulegol established a protective effect that worked to delay the onset of convulsions and seizures in mice. In some cases, the compound ultimately reduced the mortality rate to zero as the concentration of isopulegol was increased. The study found that isopulegol’s antioxidant effects likely played a part in the protective ability against convulsions and seizures and its positive allosteric modulation of the GABA-A receptor.

Gastrointestinal Protectant

Another study conducted with mice determined that isopulegol acts as a strong gastrointestinal protectant, helping to stop the formation of ulcers in the stomach and intestines via a dose-related response. This protective ability was partly due to isopulegol’s antioxidant potential and the terpene’s modulation of endogenous prostaglandins.


One animal study concluded that anxiety levels in the mice decreased when treated with isopulegol. As a result, isopulegol as an anti-anxiety medication was just as effective as the benzodiazepine control.


In 2020 another animal study determined the effect of isopulegol as an anti-inflammatory agent. Isopulegol was found to reduce acute and chronic inflammation, with significant decreases in chronic inflammation. Researchers concluded that isopulegol acts through histamine and prostaglandin pathways to produce its anti-inflammatory response.


An in vitro study conducted in 2018 found that isopulegol was an effective antiviral agent against the viral flu strains H1N1 and H1N2 in the early stages of infection. Unfortunately, as studies are limited in this area with no human data, it is difficult to determine if isopulegol reliably works to reduce the incidence of viral infections. More studies are needed in this area to make an informed conclusion.

Due to the lack of research on the effects of isopulegol, only animal studies have been conducted so far. The same research group published most of the research articles were published in 2009 by the same research group. With limited studies only including animal models, it is difficult to determine if these positive effects would also apply to humans.

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Risks and Side Effects

Overall, isopulegol is considered generally safe, but some users have reported skin irritation, eye irritation, and acute oral toxicity if taken in large quantities. Additionally, due to lack of research, a comprehensive side effect profile has not been determined; therefore, more research is needed to determine any other risks associated with isopulegol.

The same study that found that isopulegol displayed anti-anxiety results also found that although there was a decrease in anxiety in the mice, there was also an increase or worsening of symptoms of depression-like behavior in the animal model. This resulted in unwanted behaviors from the animals and inconclusive results over the study duration. As this is an animal model study, however, the results may not represent how isopulegol will act in a human.

Cannabis Strains High in Isopulegol

All of the different strains of cannabis contain differing compounds, including different ratios and amounts of terpenes. When it comes to isopulegol, the Kosher Tangie strain of cannabis tested highest for the compound, resulting in a minty aroma and fragrance profile.

Here are the top three cannabis strains with the highest amounts of isopulegol:

  • Kosher Tangie
  • Headband
  • OG Kush

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is isopulegol used for?

Commercially, isopulegol is mainly used to create a natural menthol product that can provide fragrance and aroma for a wide variety of products. However, isopulegol itself is also often used in personal care products such as soap and cosmetics that work to provide a clean scent and refreshed, cool feeling.

Is isopulegol poisonous?

Isopulegal is generally safe, but it can be harmful in large quantities. Skin and eye irritation have also been recorded with the use of isopulegol.

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