Guaiol

ˈg(w)īˌȯl | Noun

A sesquiterpenoid alcohol found in plants including cypress pine and cannabis, as well as the oil of the guaiacum plant from which it derives its name. Sometimes referred to as champacol, this terpene possesses a floral, woody scent profile, and has been researched for potential anticancer and antibacterial benefits.

 

The guaiol is bringing out a woody scent in my joint.

 

Eighteenth-century Europeans used guaiol as a treatment for syphilis.

More About Guaiol

Bearing deep roots in natural medicine, the guaiacum plants containing high levels of guaiol was brought to Europe by the Spanish after they discovered San Domingo (today the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in the 16th century. At home in Europe, the Spanish channeled guaiol’s healing powers as an experimental cure for syphilis. During this same time period, other cultures used guaiol to treat menstrual symptoms, sore throats, coughs, gout, and rheumatism, and many continue to do so today.

Guaiol in Everyday Life

Native to the Caribbean and South America, the guaiacum plant displays lush flowers with a stunning purple hue. If you have visited these regions, then you may have come across this flowering evergreen tree along the coastline where it grows. On a completely different note, guaiol is an ingredient in some commercially sold insecticides.

Therapeutic Properties of Guaiol

Though guaiol has a long tradition in medicine outside North America, research is still emerging on the therapeutic properties of this terpene. But scientists have uncovered some hopeful results, especially with regard to anticancer effects, similar to findings on other terpenes such as cedrene.  

Anticancer

Results from a 2016 study in the journal Oncotarget were the first to demonstrate guaiol’s efficacy in fighting lung cancer. Researchers revealed that guaiol significantly inhibited cancerous cell growth in cultured cell models and in animals. Even if guaiol itself weren’t to be used as a cancer therapy, the results of this study (guaiol’s antitumor mechanisms) have given us keen insight into a new way to fight lung cancer.

Antibacterial

The fruit of Xylopia sericea, which is native to Brazil, contains an essential oil that is high in guaiol (14%). A 2017 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology demonstrates the antibacterial, antioxidant, and antimicrobial effects of this essential oil, and highlights its utility in killing Staphylococcus aureus — a problematic bacterium responsible for staph infections.  

The Role of Guaiol in Cannabis

Guaiol is abundant in a number of cannabis varieties, such as Royal Gorilla, Sour Berry, Kali Dog and Haze Berry. The aromas associated with guaiol and cannabis encompass woodsy (credit to its pine origins), and floral or rosy. While there is a wealth of information about the role of some terpenes in cannabis, such as bisabolol, comparatively less is known about guaiol, and more research could shed light on potential medicinal benefits.

Bottom Line

Possessing a rich history with roots in the Caribbean, guaiol was an 18th-century remedy and may prove to be a 21st-century treatment for serious illnesses.