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Terpene Profile: Eucalyptol, A Powerful Menthol Medicine from Cannabis

If you follow our blog, you’ve noticed that we share a good deal of information about terpenes, the fragrant “essential oils” that give different strains of cannabis—as well as countless other plants and natural products—their distinctive flavors and aromas.  

But these plant-based powerhouses lend much more than pretty smells. As we’ve shared previously, for literally thousands of years now, Chinese and other physicians have known that terpenes imparted powerful medical effects on our bodies. 

Today we’re going to focus on the terpene eucalyptol, sometimes known as cineol. Known for its distinctive menthol aroma, eucalyptol plays an important role in keeping cannabis (and perhaps our bodies) free of unwanted microbes. 

Eucalyptol: What Does it Smell and Taste Like?

If you’ve ever noticed a pleasurably cooling sensation in cannabis—one reminiscent of eucalyptus but also of sage and tea tree oil—you might be picking up on its eucalyptol content. 

That unusual cooling sensation finds a great many uses in everyday life, from cough suppressants to mouthwashes to all-natural insect repellants. You’re probably most familiar with it in many common spices and flavorings, including bay leaf, cardamom, rosemary, and sage.

But as we hinted earlier, eucalyptol is most useful as a powerful medicine. From fighting pain to killing unwanted bacteria to helping us breathe easily, it’s an unusually potent and useful member of the terpene family.

Eucalyptol: How Can It Help Our Bodies?

Building upon those centuries of folk wisdom, modern research is showing that terpenes such as eucalyptol have numerous beneficial medical attributes. Here are a few of the most promising avenues of inquiry.

Eucalyptol for Pain Relief: Validating what those ancient Chinese herbalists knew, studies have demonstrated that eucalyptol has the potential to fight pain by acting as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Since then, studies have suggested the terpene’s effectiveness in combating sinus and colon inflammation, helping maintain proper respiration and digestion.

Eucalyptol for Inflammation: On that front, eucalyptol may have a role in treating asthma, a common inflammatory disease that currently afflicts some 1 in 13 Americans. A study published in 1998 and one published in 2012 both point to the terpene’s effectiveness in helping control this potentially deadly disease. 

Eucalyptol as a Bacteria-Fighter: Like tea tree oil—which also contains healthy amounts of the terpene—eucalyptol exhibits powerful anti-bacterial effects against some of the nastiest bugs known to mankind, including E. coli, Enterobacter and Staphylococcus. Especially given the rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria, all-natural drugs such as eucalyptol could one day become first-line defenses against these dangerous pathogens.

Looking Ahead: Eucalyptol as Cancer-Fighter?

For years now, some researchers have held out hope that medical cannabis might hold the key to what some call medicine’s holy grail: The cure for cancer. We want to be crystal-clear on the fact that, so far as we know, cannabis is not a cure for cancer. But that said, there are reasons to feel optimistic.

As we’ve written previously, some terpenes have received attention for their ability to shrink the growth of tumors and promote apoptosis—or programmed cell death—in cancer cells. As one study from 2002 demonstrated, eucalyptol induced such cell death in two lines of human leukemia cells, though not a stomach cancer cell line.

As with so many aspects of cannabis, more research is needed before we can make specific projections or even guesses about how such information could be put to practical use. But it demonstrates a very potent truth about cannabis: That as far as the medical potential of this fascinating and complex plant goes, we’ve only just scratched the surface.

If you have any questions about eucalyptol—or any other terpenes in the cannabis plant—drop us a line. We’d love to help!