We’re big on terpenes. They’re the fragrant hydrocarbons—sometimes better known as “essential oils”—that contribute a great deal to the aromas and flavors of the cannabis plant. It contains over 200 of them, and as researchers are discovering, they lend much more than distinctive and appealing scents. It now appears that a cannabis plant’s terpene content has a great deal to do with the plant’s medicinal qualities.
Terpenes aren’t the only game in town. As you’re no doubt aware, assessing a plant’s cannabinoids—another class of natural compounds, which includes THC, CBD and over 100 others—is still an extremely useful way to interpret any given cannabis strain and predict its effects.
But let’s focus on the terpenes. Today we’re turning to eucalyptol. Though it’s not included in the list of the ten most important terpenes in cannabis, it’s still an important and distinctive component in some strains. In addition to contributing a characteristic camphor-like aroma, eucalyptol exhibits several intriguing and powerful medical effects.
What Does Eucalyptol Smell Like, And What Can It Do For Us?
Eucalyptol—sometimes known as “cineole”—is found all over nature. It’s in the scents of eucalyptus, of course, but also in mint, sage, and tea tree oil. Many fans pick up on its distinctive “cooling” qualities, evident in the many balms, lotions, and rubs it finds its way into.
Eucalyptol isn’t as abundant as some other terpenes, like myrcene or humulene, but it makes up for its relative scarcity—typically around .06% of a given strain’s terpene profile—with powerful analgesic (that’s “pain-fighting”) and antibacterial qualities.
In fact, when it comes to pain relief, researchers have known for nearly 20 years 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.
Similarly, eucalyptol may have a role to play in treating asthma, an increasingly common and potentially serious inflammatory condition. A study published in 1998 and a more recent one both point to the terpene’s effectiveness fighting this disease, which currently afflicts some 26 million Americans.
Eucalyptol may also have a role to play in fighting Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible and progressive brain disorder. Studies have found that it works by reducing neuroinflammation and possibly by improving memory and cognition.
Eucalyptol’s aroma superficially resembles that of tea tree, and like that medical miracle worker, eucalyptol exhibits powerful anti-bacterial effects. It has been shown to be effective against some truly nasty bugs, including E. coli, Enterobacter, and Staphylococcus. As you’re no doubt aware, as the threat of antibiotic-resistant microbes grows, natural alternatives such as eucalyptol will find themselves in increasing demand.
We need more research to determine how the terpenes in cannabis can help manage different conditions, but it’s an exciting field.
How to Get Eucalyptol from Cannabis
Eucalyptol is relatively scarce in cannabis, but there are at least a handful of strains it appears in:
Headband is known for providing long-lasting pain relief, relaxation, and stress-fighting qualities. Many find it has a slow and gentle “come on,” so be sure to go low and slow with this potent strain!
Super Silver Haze is a popular sativa strain, typically characterized by piney, citrusy and–of course–eucalyptus notes. It does tend to be buzzy and energetic, and some find it causes distracting “racing mind” effects. On the other hand, it’s beloved by many creatives for its energizing and inspiring qualities.
GSC (formerly known as Girl Scout Cookies) is a potent high-THC strain also known for a robust CBD and CBN content. Be forewarned: The high is an enjoyable experience, but not one noted for high productivity!