Article written by
Shanti RyleContent Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Many compounds contribute to each cannabis strain’s (cultivar’s) unique aroma, with terpenes among the most famous of the bunch. Linalool is a naturally occurring essential oil found in many plants and is one of cannabis’ most commonly-found terpenes. Linalool is the most common terpene in lavender and has a sweet, slightly citrus lavender smell. It can have relaxing effects, making it useful for treating depression and anxiety. It may also combine with the more sedative terpenes like myrcene and humulene to increase its calming effects.
Linalool is a favorite among commercial products and is often used in skincare and cleaning products due to its soothing, floral fragrance. But what exactly is linalool, and what makes it such a popular aroma?
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What Is Linalool?
Linalool is a naturally occurring monoterpene found in many flowers and herbs. It’s one of more than 200 terpenes found in the cannabis plant, responsible for both its intense aroma and different medicinal benefits. Linalool, in particular, is often associated with cannabis’ more floral, spicy, or woody smell.
In addition to being a key terpene in cannabis‘ aromatic makeup, linalool is a significant ingredient and essential oil in various food and personal care products. Linalool functions as a fragrance element in cosmetics and skincare and is said to promote relaxation and calm, and it also may have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
While it’s most commonly associated with lavender, more than 200 plants produce linalool, including citrus, mint, rosewood, bay leaf, basil, coriander, and cinnamon.
The existing research on linalool points to a promising host of potential health benefits, mainly when the terpene is included in cannabis’ entourage effect.
Dr. Ethan Russo’s “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects” explored how the interaction of linalool, limonene, and CBG helped to treat the most treatment-resistant form of staph infection. This points to promising antimicrobial properties and represents potential usefulness for people.
Animal studies have pointed to promising stress-reducing and mood-boosting effects associated with linalool. One study showed that mice exposed to vaporized linalool showed reduced anxiety levels and exhibited fewer behaviors associated with depression. And another study, this time with rats, showed that linalool prevented the damaging physiological effects of stress when the rats were exposed to traumatic environments.
Linalool’s soothing effects could also make it a valuable aid for sleep.
Linalool has shown promising pain-relieving abilities due to its ability to elevate adenosine levels in the brain and reduce the activity of cells in the spine that transmit pain signals.
Another study found that patients who underwent surgery and were also exposed to vaporized linalool were far less likely to need postoperative opioid medication. The linalool-smelling group in the study also used only 50% as much morphine as the control group, suggesting that linalool can reduce the need for post-surgery opioid use in pain management.
More recent and exciting research has implicated linalool in treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. A 2016 study suggested that linalool could restore some cognitive and emotional functions lost from Alzheimer’s via its anti-inflammatory properties. The same study observed that linalool reduced the number of brain plaques and tangles that define Alzheimer’s and contribute to cognitive decline.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
While many love linalool and its floral fragrance, that opinion is far from universal.
Occasionally, individuals will develop severe allergies to some plants following repeated use. Lavender and chamomile, which contain linalool, are two such ingredients found in natural beauty products, and the industry’s surge in popularity has driven controversy about labeling and use.
For some, linalool can be a highly sensitizing ingredient that can disrupt or harm sensitive skin. Lavender may offer soothing benefits, but it is also a well-known allergen that can cause rashes, burns, and other allergic reactions.
A study found that allergies to oxidized linalool were “frequent” in the UK, and many drug regulation agencies in Europe now require labeling of the ingredient or ban it altogether. Therefore, individuals with or at risk of developing eczema and psoriasis should avoid skincare products that contain linalool. Instead, opt for fragrance-free and milder options.
Cannabis Strains High in Linalool
Linalool gives cannabis its floral, spicy aroma and is found in higher amounts in these strains, among others:
- Mazar I Sharif
- Amnesia Haze
- Scooby Snack
- LA Confidential
- OG Shark
- Dark Matter
The Bottom Line on Linalool
Linalool is a popular terpene that many cannabis enthusiasts seek out for its floral, lavender-like aroma and its anxiolytic (anxiety-busting), stress-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and relaxing effects. However, the amount of linalool in cannabis is usually in low enough concentrations to be well-tolerated by most people. However, those with sensitive skin ought to spot test (apply a little bit to a small patch of skin) any linalool-containing product for any reactions, and those who are allergic to linalool should avoid the terpene entirely.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is linalool toxic to humans?
No. Despite its risk of developing allergies, linalool is generally recognized as safe by the FDA and approved as a flavoring additive for human consumption.
Is linalool bad for skin?
Linalool is surrounded by controversy concerning its use in skincare and cosmetic products. Most dermatologists recommend that those with sensitive or irritated skin types avoid using linalool. However, for most people, low concentrations of linalool are quite safe and have soothing and anti-anxiety effects.
What is linalool used for?
Linalool is used for its scent in perfume products, cleaning agents, and cosmetics and skincare products.