Article written by
Dipak HemrajHead of Research and Education
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Phytol is a type of terpene that shows some impressive potential health benefits. Known for its grassy scent, phytol can be found in cannabis and green tea plants. Research into the effects of this compound tells us that phytol might be able to help improve anxiety, pain, and inflammation, as well as provide other benefits.
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What Is Phytol?
Phytol is a naturally occurring chemical found in cannabis and green tea plant material. Terpene compounds play an essential role in all plants, helping to create distinct aromas that benefit each plant. Phytol’s distinctive scent comes from a grassy-like smell that attracts pollinators.
Terpenes like phytol can also generate health benefits, and research tells us phytol may be able to induce a range of therapeutic effects. When extracted from its original plant source, phytol is also often used to help manufacture certain synthetic vitamins like vitamin E.
Phytol isn’t yet the most well-known terpene, so you may not encounter it in cannabis strains as frequently as major terpenes like pinene, linalool, or terpinene.
Health Benefits of Phytol
As well as its distinctive grassy smell, phytol may also be able to help you manage different areas of your health.
Phytol may be able to act as an anti-inflammatory, which is essential when inflammation goes awry, and you start to experience pain, redness, and reduced range of movement from an inflammatory response. Conditions such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), diabetes, arthritis, and psoriasis are all brought on or exacerbated in part by inflammation.
One study investigated the potential anti-inflammatory properties of phytol, using mouse models to test the results of phytol treatment. The researchers found that phytol significantly reduced inflammation in several measures and managed to inhibit inflammatory compounds.
Thanks to the strong anti-inflammatory action shown in phytol, the terpene may also be able to help reduce your pain levels. One mouse model study found that phytol could reduce the perception of pain in mice significantly, and the researchers concluded that the terpene demonstrated pronounced pain-relieving effects.
While more research is needed to explore phytol’s possible analgesic effects fully, this animal study gives us some insight into its potential as a pain reliever.
Phytol may also help you calm down and lower your anxiety levels. A 2014 study investigated the effects of phytol on mice with induced anxiety. The study found that phytol significantly reduced anxiety by several measures. It’s thought that the anxiolytic properties of phytol likely occur through the compound interacting with the GABAergic system, which is a neurotransmitter system that plays an important role in mood regulation.
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Studies also tell us that phytol may act as a sedative. A 2018 study, in particular, found that the herb Crataeva nurvalainduced sedative effects. This is important to understanding the effects of phytol as it was a central compound in the plant and was determined to be one of the likely causes of the sedative effects seen.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night and want to avoid the potentially dangerous effects of prescription sleeping pills, phytol could be a good alternative.
While research is still in the early stages, phytol may help control seizures. A mouse model study investigated the effects of phytol on seizures and found that phytol treatment successfully reduced the mortality rate of seizures. The study concluded that phytol’s anticonvulsant effect occurs through the terpene modulating neurotransmitter. Further research is needed to understand the pharmacological effects of phytol.
Early-stage cell research tells us that phytol demonstrates potential anti-tumor properties. One study found that phytol was able to suppress certain carcinoma cells and blocked cell survival genes. The findings from this study suggest that phytol may be a potent anti-cancer candidate, especially for liver cancer treatment. However, it is essential to note that extensive research is needed before drawing definitive conclusions about how phytol may act as a cancer treatment.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Understanding the potential risks and side effects of a compound can help you decide whether it is the best fit for you.
There may be some risk of lung damage when vaping phytol. A 2021 study observed adverse effects when vaping phytol, such as damage to lung tissue, inflammation, and hemorrhage. The authors of the article concluded that vaping phytol is not recommended.
Cannabis Strains High in Phytol
Phytol can be found in green tea and matcha products but is also present in some cannabis strains. Cannabis strains that contain phytol include:
- Sour Diesel
- OG Kush
- Strawberry Diesel
- Banana Kush
- Jack Herer
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Frequently Asked Questions
What does phytol smell like?
Phytol has a mostly grassy, green tea-like scent with citrus notes.
Is phytol toxic?
Phytol may be dangerous when vaporized, and you shouldn’t vape phytol.
What is phytol used for?
Phytol is used in many manufacturing processes, such as in flavoring, spice, vitamins, food coloring, fragrance, and cosmetic production.