\ neˈrȯləˌdȯl, -räl-, -dōl\ | noun

A sesquiterpene present in the essential oils of many plants and flowers, such as lavender and jasmine. Alternately referred to as peruviol and penetrol, this terpene possessing a floral or woody aroma reminiscent of fresh tree bark. Nerolidol is known for its antifungal, sedative, anticancer, antibacterial and anti-anxiety properties.


The nerolidol in my cannabis smells like the woods.


Nerolidol made the summer air rich with the scent of orchids.

More About Nerolidol

Nerolidol comprises the primary scent compound of a species of orchid native to Mexico. In addition to its scent contributions to this orchid, cannabis, and other plants, nerolidol has been used as a natural sleep aid due to the sedative effect it exhibits. The terpene may also be useful in combating pests that harm humans and plants. Nerolidol has shown in some cases to be effective against head lice, spider mites, parasites, and certain bacteria and fungi. A 2007 study in the Dutch International Journal of Pharmaceutics found that nerolidol could improve skin penetration of topical agents on animals, while another 2007 study published in the Netherlands discovered that the terpene could be a tool against malaria.   

Nerolidol in Everyday Life

The combination of woody and floral notes in nerolidol make it a popular addition to lotions and perfumes. You may have also encountered the terpene in a scented moisturizer or salve. Application of any of the essential oils known to contain nerolidol, such as orange blossom (neroli) or tea tree, means that you have caught a whiff of the terpene. As the terpene is a component of ginger, you may have cooked or baked with it. Finally, you may have experienced nerolidol outdoors if you have strolled through a garden with Brassavola nodosa, or Mexican orchids, in bloom.

Therapeutic Properties of Nerolidol

Nerolidol has exhibited a number of therapeutic properties, including antifungal, sedative, anticancer, antibacterial and anti-anxiety.


One 2007 study published in Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin analyzed the effectiveness of nerolidol against a skin fungus in guinea pigs. Researchers found that nerolidol acted as an antifungal agent.  


A 2013 study published in the journal Neurochemical Research revealed that nerolidol had a sedative and antioxidant effect on rodent test subjects.


Toxicology In Vitro published a 2012 study that demonstrated how nerolidol arrested cell growth and induced cell death in a human hepatocellular liver carcinoma cell line.


Nerolidol may have the ability to make certain strains of bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics, as uncovered in a 2003 study published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.  


A 2016 study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology found that nerolidol had an anti-anxiety effect on mice.

The Role of Nerolidol in Cannabis

Jack Herer, Blue Dream, Black Lime, Chemdawg, and Skywalker OG are among the cannabis varieties that contain high levels of nerolidol. Due to its sedative properties, the terpene may provide a tranquilizing effect when experienced through cannabis.

Bottom Line

Nerolidol is notable for its appealing floral, woody aroma and for its potential as a therapeutic agent against diseases including malaria and cancer.