Updated: Jul 10
The Terpene Harvest™ series takes a research-centric approach to the exploration of the world of terpenes, investigating the more than 20,000 plant species that produce more than 40,000 aromatic terpenes throughout nature.
November Harvest: Chrysanthemum
A variety of plants, mostly flowers and fruits, produce the terpene linalool. These include basil, bay leaf, birch trees, cinnamon, certain varieties of fungi, hemp, lavender, mint and other herbs, and rosewood. A total of more than 200 plant species throughout nature produce linalool. Among these is chrysanthemum, a common flower that typically blooms in the fall, between autumn equinox (September 21) and winter equinox (December 21), depending on region.
Also known as "mums" and "chrysanths," chrysanthemum is a popular flowering plant that is native to Asia and Northeastern Europe, with most species of this genus originating in East Asia and China. This flower is used primarily in ornamental landscaping, but is also employed as a culinary agent (mostly in Chinese cuisine) and sometimes as an industrial insecticide.
November Terpene: Linalool
In cultivars of hemp and chrysanthemum in which linalool dominates the terpene profile, this molecule produces a scent that is sweetly floral and herbal, sometimes with a hint of spice. Its aroma is so popular, in fact, that this terpene is employed as a fragrance ingredient in more than 60% of the perfumed hygiene products sold in North America, including lotions, shampoos, and soaps.
Often employed in aromatherapy, this special terpene is similar to many of its siblings due to its delivery of a spectrum of biophysical and medicinal benefits. These include reductions of systemic inflammation, decreased pain (analgesia), and improvements in depression, anxiety, and other psychological maladies.
Linalool is also employed as an anticonvulsant to help patients who suffer from seizure disorders, including epilepsy (which affects more than 65 million people globally and 3.5 million Americans). It is also employed as a sedative for conditions such as social anxiety, insomnia, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Linalool is also employed as an anticonvulsant to help patients who suffer from seizure disorders, including epilepsy, which affects more than 65 million people globally and 3.5 million Americans
More than 100 types of cancer afflict nearly two million people each year, with more than half a million patients dying from the disease during the same period. Terpenes such as linalool and cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have demonstrated significant medicinal efficacy against many cancers, as documented by a wide range of clinical research studies and anecdotal reports from wellness practitioners and patients.
Linalool Research Studies
A wealth of peer-reviewed research studies has revealed the nuanced and sometimes striking medicinal efficacy of the terpene linalool. Significant benefits gained from the use of linalool or linalool-rich hemp cultivars and products include relief from pain, decreased seizure activity, and the prevention of panic attacks.
Terpenes such as linalool and others have also been revealed, via hundreds of research studies, to aid in the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer, including cervical and colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer (the most common type), lymphoma, and leukemia.
A 2016 study entitled "Anticancer Effect of Linalool via Cancer-specific Hydroxyl Radical Generation in Human Colon Cancer:" that was published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology explored the ability of linalool to effectively treat colon cancer, including the “cytotoxic effect of linalool on human colon cancer cell lines.” It measured the “apoptosis-inducing effect” of this common terpene.
Apoptosis is a genetically pre-programmed characteristic of many types of cancer cells in which certain triggers or external stimuli—including particular terpenes and cannabinoids—cause the cell to basically "commit suicide." This molecular hari-kari is but one mechanism by which terpenes from plants like cannabis, chrysanthemums, and cinnamon have demonstrated benefits in treating a variety of cancers.
The study's authors concluded that linalool is an effective cancer therapy and helped to identify some of the underlying mechanisms by which terpenes achieve their anti-cancer capabilities.
The study's authors concluded that linalool is an effective cancer therapy and helped to identify some of the underlying mechanisms by which terpenes achieve their anti-cancer capabilities. "Linalool exhibited an anti-cancer effect via cancer-specific oxidative stress," reported the researchers, adding that the molecule features significant "potential for application in colon cancer therapy."
A 2015 study entitled "Linalool Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis in Leukemia Cells and Cervical Cancer Cells" that was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences investigated "the cytotoxic effect of linalool on human cancer cell lines."
The research found the linalool terpene to convey solid anti-cancer efficacy, reporting that the terpene "exhibited a good cytotoxic effect" and that it did so "by inducing the [cancer] cells to undergo apoptosis, triggering cell death." The study's authors reported that "most of the commonly used cytotoxic anti-cancer drugs have been shown to induce apoptosis in susceptible tumor cells." The study concluded that "linalool offers tremendous potential for enhancing leukemia and cervical cancer treatment and provides novel starting points for future anti-cancer research."
A 2014 study entitled "Linalool Exhibits Cytotoxic Effects by Activating Antitumor Immunity" that was published in the journal Molecules explored "the bioactivity of linalool, as well as the bioactivity of p-coumaric acid, in terms of their cytotoxic effects on cancer cells."
This study focused on achieving a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which terpenes are capable of fighting cancer—including reducing tumor size or otherwise thwarting invasive cancer cells. The study's authors desired to better comprehend "the mechanisms of such effects [that] are generated through apoptosis and immunoregulatory activity."
This study focused on achieving a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which terpenes are capable of fighting cancer—including reducing tumor size
The researchers found linalool to be effective against multiple types of cancer, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and liver cancer cells. In terms of how this terpene accomplishes its sometimes stunning anti-cancer efficacy, the researchers identified an active role played by apoptosis. Reported the study, "Cell cycle analysis also confirmed that linalool and p-coumaric acid can lead to apoptosis."
The study's authors concluded that terpenes such as linalool may play a positive role in the treatment of a variety of cancers. "These results show that linalool holds great potential for use in cancer therapy and we believe that it could provide an alternative way to take action against tumors," wrote the researchers.
A 2010 study entitled "Anticonvulsant Activity of the Linalool Enantiomers" that was published in the journal Natural Product Communications investigated the ability of phytocannabinoids such as linalool to help patients suffering from seizure conditions like epilepsy.
Although this study was conducted on mice, not humans, it revealed that various forms of linalool provide anti-seizure efficacy that rivals that of modern drugs. "Linalool presented pharmacological activity close to that of diazepam," concluded the study’s authors. The research reported that linalool was "effective in preventing tonic convulsions" within rodent test subjects.
A 2008 study entitled "Antiproliferative Effects of Essential Oils and their Major Constituents in Human Renal Adenocarcinoma and Amelanotic Melanoma Cells" that was published in the journal Cell Proliferation explored the ability of plant-based terpenes, such as linalool and beta-caryophyllene (BCP), to act as anti-cancer agents and to slow or stop the spread of cancer cells.
The goal of the study was to "identify active components involved in [the] inhibition of population growth of human cancer cell lines." The study's researchers found that three terpenes (linalool, BCP, and alpha cedrol) may be effective in treating cancer. These plant-based molecules were identified as being "active against...melanoma. [These] terpenes—linalool, beta-caryophyllene, and alpha-cedrol—were found to be active on both [cancer] cell lines tested."
[These] terpenes—linalool, beta-caryophyllene, and alpha-cedrol—were found to be active on both [cancer] cell lines tested
The analgesic properties of linalool were demonstrated by a 2007 research study entitled "Treatment with Lavender Aromatherapy in the Post-anesthesia Care Unit Reduces Opioid Requirements" that was published in the journal Obesity Surgery. The study investigated the ability of linalool to effectively treat pain and, thus, reduce the opioid consumption of post-operative test subjects.
This human trial was a double-blind placebo-controlled study, the most stringent and scientifically rigorous that can be conducted. The findings of this research may be helpful in the treatment of not only pain, but also in the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction.
The study found that patients receiving linalool via a lavender-based formulation required roughly half the morphine of test subjects receiving a placebo.
The study's authors concluded that linalool was an effective analgesic by merit of the fact that it reduced opioid consumption among test subjects following their surgery. "Our results suggest that [linalool administration via] lavender aromatherapy can be used to reduce the demand for opioids in the immediate postoperative period," wrote the study's authors.
A 2003 study entitled "Antileukemic Activity of Selected Natural Products" that was published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine investigated the anti-cancer qualities of "six chemical classes of pure compounds present in commonly used medicinal plants," one of which was linalool. The research examined the efficacy of linalool "on a series of human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines."
The study’s researchers reported that the six chemicals were effective in treating leukemia and lymphoma. Wrote the study's authors, "...water insoluble compounds such as triterpenoids (oleanolic acid and ursolic acid), [a] monoterpene (linalool), and [a] flavonoid (luteolin) possessed strong activity against human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines."
The study concluded that a variety of terpenes and flavonoids, from many plant types, provide anti-cancer benefits—specifically for leukemia and lymphoma
The study concluded that a variety of terpenes and flavonoids, from many plant types, provide anti-cancer benefits—specifically for leukemia and lymphoma. "Commonly used medicinal plants possess strong activity against lymphoma and leukemia cells, especially human lymphoma cells," reported the researchers. They suggested that the terpenes and flavonoids produced by herbs like cannabis may be effective in treating diseases such as lymphoma.
Summarizing Our Linalool Knowledge
A continually expanding body of research illustrates the significant benefits of aromatic terpenes such as linalool for human health and wellness. From diseases like lymphoma and breast cancer to seizure-related conditions like epilepsy and inflammation-based diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia, linalool and its sibling phytomolecules continue to demonstrate an increasingly long list of benefits for humans and mammals.
Keen readers have the opportunity to monitor a relatively rapidly expanding body of peer-reviewed research data and anecdotal testimonies from doctors and patients. Such evidence continues to illustrate how hemp-derived terpenes such as linalool can improve health and, in some use cases, perhaps even contribute to overall solutions that save lives.
As more is learned about the underlying mechanisms of how terpenes achieve their efficacy (including topics like apoptosis), medical professionals and scientists will become better equipped to effectively leverage chemical compounds like linalool in patient treatment strategies.