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Cineole (Eucalyptol): Benefits, Effects, Common Strains

closeup hand putting essential oil into wooden bowl with eucalyptus twig in the background

Cineole is an aromatic plant compound called a “terpene.” This terpene gives plants a fresh and minty smell and helps ward off bacteria, mold, and pests. It has been used in topical muscle ointments, mouthwash, and diffuser oils and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

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What Is Cineole (Eucalyptol)?

Cineole also referred to as eucalyptol or 1,8-cineole, is a terpene present in Cannabis sativa. This terpene is not rare; you likely already know of cineole as the main ingredient in eucalyptus essential oil.

Originally extracted from eucalyptus tree bark, cineole is one of the most well-researched terpenes. It is one of the primary compounds present in eucalyptus oil, giving the oil its characteristic fresh and minty smell accompanied by a cooling effect.

Also found in plants like rosemary, sage, bay leaves, tea tree, and cardamom, cineole has been used in countless consumer products. From cough drops to mouthwash and diffuser oils to cooling balms, cineole’s scent and health benefits have made the aromatic terpene very popular.

With studies finding cineole has anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, and anti-fungal properties, it is no surprise it has been so well-researched. It has even been suggested that terpene can provide mental health benefits.

How Does Cineole Work?

Terpenes are volatile, aromatic compounds that are present in every kind of plant, including Cannabis sativa. Plants produce these compounds to deter pests — hate the pungent smells and flavors — and ward off bacteria and mold.

Terpenes are where most of a plant’s smells come from, the unique types and combinations of which give our favorite strains of cannabis their characteristic scents, flavors, and effects.

Apart from playing a role in plant biology and homeostasis, terpenes can provide many therapeutic benefits. For example, curcumin, another common terpene commonly found in turmeric, is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, explaining its recent popularity in health foods.

Cineole can work in a few different ways, and depending on the condition, one type of application may be better than another. For example, topical ointments are good for sore muscles and stiff joints, whereas smelling the terpene may be more suitable for relieving asthma symptoms.

 It also may have potential therapeutic benefits when used in degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and pulmonary conditions like COPD.

Free Cannabinoid and Terpene Guide

Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that involves cognitive decline due to the death of brain cells. These brain cells can die for a few reasons, including chronic inflammation in the brain and sustained immune response.

A 2014 study found that cineole reduced inflammation in certain brain cells. Researchers also noticed a reduction in COX-2 expression, an enzyme that plays a significant role in the inflammation pathway. These findings signify that cineole may be helpful as an anti-inflammatory therapy for neurodegenerative diseases.

Management of COPD Symptoms

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a physiological diagnosis based on airway obstruction. COPD develops in response to a trigger, such as smoke inhalation, causing inflammation and excessive mucus production in the airways.

Cineole inhibits TNF-alpha and IL-1beta, two pro-inflammatory chemicals your body produces. By inhibiting these two chemical messengers, inflammation is decreased, mucus production reduces, and airway function can be partially or entirely restored.

Potential Health Benefits and Uses

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Cineole can reduce inflammation through multiple different mechanisms. In addition to reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and mitochondrial membrane potential within inflamed cells, cineole has been found to suppress inflammatory cytokines, chemical messengers cells use to talk to each other.

Reduces Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance in your body’s ability to neutralize or repair the damage caused by free radicals, highly reactive oxygen-based molecules that can damage your cells. Cineole reduces oxidative stress by regulating signaling pathways and scavenging free radicals.

Control Blood Sugar

Dysregulation of blood sugar levels is a hallmark of those with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus. Regulation of blood glucose, cholesterol, and lipid levels are all targets for managing diabetes-related symptoms.

A study on those with type 2 diabetes was performed in 2009 in which patients were given ground bay leaves, a plant known to contain cineole. Serum glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides dropped significantly compared to the control group.

Ease Joint Pain

A 2013 study found that after a total knee replacement surgery, those with joint pain experienced better pain relief from inhaling eucalyptol oil versus a neutral control. The researchers did not speculate what triggered this effect, but it likely had to do with cineole’s ability to interrupt the inflammatory process.

Anti-fungal Properties

Plants are used to living outdoors, meaning they have to be prepared to fight off pests and diseases, like fungal infections. Terpenes provide much of a plant’s ability to fight fungus, and cineole is no different.

A 2012 study found that cineole and several other plant terpenes exhibited toxic effects against multiple fungal pathogens, including Fusarium subglutinans, Fusarium cerealis, Aspergillus tubingensis, Alternaria alternata, and Penicillium sp. These fungi can also infect human airways and people who are immunocompromised, making cineole an attractive anti-fungal agent.

Fight Asthma

Cineole can potentially treat or alleviate symptoms of inflammatory airway diseases, such as asthma.

Asthma refers to constriction of the airways by inflammation triggered by inflammatory mediators, such as arachidonic acid and cytokines. In a 2003 study, cineole suppresses arachidonic acid metabolism and cytokine production in human monocytes, potentially explaining how the aromatic terpene alleviates some asthma symptoms.

This study suggested that cineole may be suitable for controlling excessive mucus and inflammation in asthma patients.

Fight Cancer

A 2002 study on two human leukemia cell lines and stomach cells found cineole was capable of inducing apoptosis (cell death) in the leukemia cells. The stomach cells showed signs of apoptotic bodies within the cells but did not exhibit the same behavior as the leukemia cells.

Improve Mental Function

The Dementia Behavior Disturbance Scale scores for nursing home residents were improved when a eucalyptol (cineole) diffuser was used once or twice a day. Even if residents reported no noticeable smell, there were positive and measurable effects.

Anti-bacterial Activity

In addition to fungi, plants also need to deal with the hundreds of different types of bacteria present in nature. Terpenes are helpful here too.

A study performed in 2013 found that essential oils from Artemisia spicigera plants, cineole, camphor, α-thujone, camphene, and β-thujone, exhibited antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Serratia marcescens, and Staphylococcus aureus.

Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus are two important human pathogens responsible for potentially life-threatening infections.

Disinfects Wounds

Cineole has an established anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effect, which explains why the native population of Australia historically used eucalyptus leaves, or eucalyptus extracts, for wound care.

What Strains Contain Eucalyptol?

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies is an indica-dominant hybrid created by crossing OG Kush with Durban Poison. GSC is an energizing cannabis strain with many users reporting powerful euphoric effects. The high THC content of Girl Scout Cookies makes it appealing for medical users looking for relief from chronic pain, nausea, and loss of appetite.

GSC’s terpenes include caryophyllene, limonene, and humulene, with cineole as a secondary terpene. Given the heavy effects and high THC content, Girl Scout Cookies may be best left for more experienced cannabis connoisseurs.

Dutch Treat

Another THC-heavy strain, Dutch Treat, is an indica-dominant hybrid created by crossing Northern Lights and Haze. This strain’s primary terpenes are myrcene and ocimene, with cineole playing second fiddle.

Dutch Treat has a THC content of 19% and a cannabigerol (CBG) content of up to 1%. Users who consume Dutch Treat report uplifted and euphoric feelings, accompanied by whole-body relaxation.

Super Silver Haze

Super Silver Haze was created by crossing Skunk, Northern Lights, and Haze strains and boasts multiple first-place finishes in the High Times Cannabis Cup. It is sativa dominant and reportedly comes with uplifting and energetic feelings, great for stress relief and stimulating your appetite.

Boasting a respectable 20% THC content and 1% CBG content, Super Silver Haze is a great strain that everyone should try.

The Bottom Line

Cineole is an aromatic terpene found in many plants, including Cannabis sativa. This compound protects plants from bacteria and fungi and can do the same for humans. In addition to this, cineole can reduce inflammation, offering relief for those suffering from many conditions.

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