The cannabis plant boasts hundreds of potent terpenes that function in potentially therapeutic ways in the body and mind through a synergy known as the entourage effect. One of these terpenes is linalool, whose fresh, floral scent is most notably present in lavender.

Here we break down exactly what linalool is while sharing the terpene's origins and analyzing its potential health benefits.

What is linalool?

Linalool is a terpene derived from flower and spice plants, as well as some fungi. Linalool is frequently used as a scent and flavoring agent in addition to serving as an element in pesticides. Since the 19th century, linalool has been produced naturally and synthetically, as the demand for the terpene is increasingly high. The terpene is known for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and stress-relieving properties.

What is linalool good for?

Linalool is a common ingredient in a wide variety of commercial products. Up to 80% of shampoos, detergents, and soaps may contain linalool, favored for its pleasant floral aroma. Skincare products with Vitamin E may also contain linalool, as the vitamin is a byproduct of linalool. If you check the labels on these household products and see the terms beta linalool, linalyl alcohol, or linaloyl oxide, then you'll know that this terpene is a part of the chemical composition. 

Linalool is also used as an insecticide to kill fruit flies, fleas, and cockroaches. Similar to the terpenes camphene and citronellol, linalool may be used as an ingredient in mosquito repellents. Finally, if you have a birch tree in your backyard or some fresh mint in your kitchen, you have experienced linalool, which is produced by more than 200 species of plants. Other plants that produce the terpene include rosewood, lavender, laurel, and sweet basil. In fact, linalool is one of the most abundant lavender terpenes, so you may have experienced the compound if you've ever relaxed with a few drops of lavender oil during a massage session or yoga class. 

What foods contain linalool?

In addition to naturally occurring in an array of herbs and spices, linalool may be an ingredient in a surprising number of foods as well as carbonated beverages. Foods as diverse as meat products, puddings, relishes, and candies may contain the terpene as a flavor enhancer. Linalool's variety of culinary uses extends to chewing gum and alcoholic beverages including liqueurs.

Therapeutic properties of linalool

Linalool's potential benefits and therapeutic effects are extensive. Many individuals look to linalool as a natural tool to relieve insomnia. Researchers are also exploring its potential use to mediate symptoms of Alzheimer's and other neurological conditions.

Antimicrobial

One scientific study published in 2012 in the journal Anaerobe revealed that linalool demonstrated strong antimicrobial activity against bacteria found in the mouth. As a result, the researchers recommended toothpaste and gargling solutions with low concentrations (less than 0.4 milligrams per milliliter) of linalool.

Anti-inflammatory

The Journal of Surgical Research published a study in 2013 examining how linalool could affect an acute lung injury in a mouse. The scientists concluded that linalool inhibited inflammation in the mouse model control group and could, therefore, be a candidate for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.  

Neurological

Linalool's potential as a therapeutic neurological agent is under exploration, with one 2015 study published in the journal Neuropharmacology indicating that the terpene could offer hope for Alzheimer's disease patients. The study found that linalool reversed the neuropathological and behavioral impairments in mice with a model of Alzheimer's. 

Linalool has also demonstrated therapeutic potential in another neurological condition, epilepsy, according to a 1999 study published in the journal Phytomedicine. This study found that the terpene could offer anti-convulsive properties in seizure models.  

Linalool as a sedative

As experienced through the inhalation of essential oils, linalool may produce sedative effects in people, according to a 2009 study conducted on animals and published in Phytomedicine. Researchers found that lavender oil containing linalool could induce sedation without affecting motor coordination.

Does linalool get you high?

Breathing in linalool through cannabis may produce a stress-reducing effect as well as an uplifted mood thanks to the olfactory processing of the floral scent. Further, as a component of lavender oil, linalool may also reduce stress in people according to a comprehensive study titled "Lavender and the Nervous System" published in 2013 in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The authors of the study asserted: “Linalool and linalyl acetate are rapidly absorbed through the skin after topical application with massage and are thought to be able to cause central nervous system depression.” 

Mild depression of the central nervous system produces a feeling of calm, slowing both the breathing and heart rates, which indirectly translates as a relaxed feeling. Therefore, linalool inhalation through cannabis or an essential oil may have a positive, calming effect on brain cells and pain signals.

Cannabis strains high in linalool

If you want to experience the relaxing effects of this terpene, there are numerous cannabis varieties high in linalool, such as the following:

Is linalool toxic to humans?

As a general rule, linalool is non-toxic to humans when inhaled in small amounts as part of an essential oil or cannabis product. In fact, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that people inadvertently consume more than two (2) grams of linalool each year. However, some people may experience a topical linalool allergy, resulting in contact dermatitis and symptoms such as itching and a rash. Other than potential skin irritation, the terpene is not known to produce serious side effects unless consumed in excessive amounts.

Bottom line

Pleasing to the senses, linalool is universal as an ingredient in food and beauty products and has shown promise in providing relief from a number of ailments.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on August 19, 2020.