Phytol is an acyclic diterpene alcohol with a grassy aroma. This terpene is used to synthesize vitamins E and K. Phytol occurs naturally in green tea and exhibits a mild sedative effect. This terpene is known for its antioxidant properties. Research is emerging on how phytol may be effective against tumors, inflammation, and convulsions.
What is phytol?
Possessing an oily consistency, phytol displays a yellow pigment that is sometimes used in food dyes. While phytol does exude a grassy scent, it is not as aromatic as many other terpenes, such as geranyl. Similar to other terpenes, phytol is a part of the plant world and is a byproduct of chlorophyll as it breaks down. The terpene may have the ability to fight certain parasites, according to a 2014 study published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. A 2002 study published by the Society of Toxicology found that phytol may also play a role in preventing birth defects caused by vitamin A.
Phytol in everyday life
One of the most common sources of phytol is in green tea varieties, including matcha and sencha. If you take vitamin supplements E or K, or a multivitamin that contains these, then you have probably experienced phytol. In addition, phytol is a frequent ingredient in fragrances, cosmetics, shampoos, household cleaners, and detergents.
Therapeutic properties of phytol
A 2016 study published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology concluded that phytol could be a good candidate for the treatment or prevention of oxidative stress mediated diseases (a broad family of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders, among others). Another study, published in 2013 by Brazilian researchers, found that phytol produced substantial pain-relief in animals. The scientists attributed this effect, in part, to phytol's antioxidant properties. Furthermore, green tea, which contains phytol, is well-known for offering antioxidant benefits.
Like many other terpenes and cannabinoids found in cannabis, phytol has demonstrable anti-tumor properties. A 2015 study indicated that it may be particularly effective for the treatment of liver cancer, however other studies support phytol's ability to fight other kinds of tumors as well (such as breast cancer).
Inflammation is a very common component of pain, and many compounds that fight inflammation tend to relieve pain. Phytol is no exception, and several studies have shown the inter-related nature of phytol's anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
Anti-convulsive and Anti-anxiety
Through a shared mechanism (the brain's use of the neurotransmitter GABA), phytol has shown promise as both an anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant medication. Thus far, these studies have only been conducted in animals, so more research is needed to understand phytol's impacts on human health.
Role of phytol in cannabis
Sour Diesel and Cheese are two cannabis varieties that contain high levels of phytol. The light fragrance in phytol may provide a mildly aromatic experience. Phytol-rich cannabis may also induce a mild relaxing and sedative effect.
One of the less aromatic terpenes, phytol is known for its antioxidant properties and may also offer hope as a cancer fighter and seizure reducer.
Major contributions from Dr. Adie Rae.