Is eucalyptol really better than a breath of fresh air? Keep reading to learn about this unique cannabis-derived terpene. 

It’s not only koala bears who enjoy the unique gifts of the eucalyptus tree. Indeed, if you’ve ever taken cough drops to treat inflamed bronchial airways when you’ve had a cold, you’ve likely experienced the cooling taste of the terpene eucalyptol. This aromatic terpene is the main constituent of eucalyptus.

A colorless liquid with a spicy, mint-like smell that soothes the airways, eucalyptol is a popular ingredient in medicinal products. The chemistry of eucalyptol affects respiratory function by its ability to alter mucus hypersecretion and asthma symptoms via anti-inflammatory cytokine inhibition [1].

Deriving its name from trees of the eucalyptus species, eucalyptol makes up to 90% of eucalyptus oil and is also found in plants such as:

  • Bay leaves
  • Tea tree
  • Wormwood
  • Sagebrush
  • Cannabis [2]

What are terpenes?

Terpenes offer benefits to both plants and humans. They affect how a plant smells and tastes by expressing its unique essential oil. In natural environments, terpenes may serve as insecticides by protecting plants and repelling predatory insects with their scent. For this reason, essential oils with terpenes such as beta-pinene and terpinolene are sometimes used in insecticides for humans. Pests like aphids, which can be destructive to cannabis crops, steer clear of strains high in ocimene the same way mosquitos flee from certain varieties of geraniums [3].

On the other hand, some terpenes attract pollinators and help a plant species survive. Moreover, terpenes can affect animal behavior. Honeybee colonies, for example, use the scent of eucalyptol and ocimene to regulate their foraging practices and social organization [4]. A chemical composition including ocimene or eucalyptol can act as bumblebee pheromones and assist in the pollination of angiosperm plant species [5].

Jars of cannabis derived Earthy Terpenes

What is eucalyptol?

In 1870, French chemist François Stanislas Cloez isolated eucalyptol from Eucalyptus globulus: the first-known eucalyptus species of the time. Because of his ground-breaking discovery, another eucalyptus species, E. cloeziana, was named after him [6].

Eucalyptol is a volatile oil found in a variety of plants. With its robust-smelling essential oil that hints strongly of camphor, eucalyptol is a much-used ingredient in products such as expectorant medicine and cough suppressants for patients suffering from bronchial maladies. Additionally, it is used as a flavoring agent for food, chewing gum, and cough drops. Commercial essential oils with high concentrations of eucalyptol are used to scent candles, cosmetics, cleaners, organic solvents, and various household products.

Top 5 uses for the eucalyptol terpene

Essential oils that contain eucalyptol oil have myriad commercial and medicinal applications. The top five include:

  1. Easing bronchial inflammation when inhaled or consumed in cough and cold medicine
  2. Essential oil diffusion or vaporization
  3. Ingredient for cleaning products
  4. Flavoring agent for foods, chewing gum, and candy
  5. Scenting agent for topical salves and ointments

Effects of eucalyptol

Its chemical composition ensures that the terpene aids respiratory function [7]. Likewise, the aromatherapy inherent in eucalyptol enhances its enjoyability in oral expectorants and air fresheners. 

Eucalyptol is one of the top 20 terpenes in cannabis. When consumed in full-spectrum cannabis products, eucalyptol may contribute to benefits through the entourage effect; the way in which the plant compounds work synergistically to enhance the effects of the cannabinoids [8].

Though the benefits of eucalyptol are many, large doses of it can be highly toxic. It’s important to follow dosage directions closely for any product containing eucalyptol, eucalyptus oil, or any chemical compound or essential oil containing high terpene concentrations. Too much eucalyptol can lead to stomach pain, nausea, muscle weakness, and dizziness [9].

Cannabis strains high in eucalyptol

The distinct chemistry of eucalyptol offers a soothing, cooling treat to cannabis users who choose strains like Sour Special Sauce, Lifter, and Canna Cake. When strains high in eucalyptol are smoked or vaped, the experience has been likened to smoking or vaping a mentholated product. 

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What is the entourage effect?

Originally proposed in 1999, the entourage effect describes a mechanism by which the presence of cannabis compounds in a given strain, such as terpenes and flavonoids, act synergistically with cannabinoids to modulate the overall effects of the plant, whether those may be mood-altering or health-boosting [8].

Sources of eucalyptol

Eucalyptol is the primary constituent of eucalyptus oil. Its presence is also found in:

  • Tea tree oil 
  • Wormwood
  • Sagebrush
  • Cannabis Sativa [10].

Evoking the pungent smells of a Thanksgiving turkey, eucalyptol is also high in:

  • Bay leaf
  • Cardamom
  • Rosemary
  • Sage [10].

Final thoughts on eucalyptol

Have you ever walked through a eucalyptus forest? There is nothing quite like it. The smell of eucalyptol wafts around you, soothing your lungs and airways. There is certainly a chemical explanation for this effect, yet the feeling registers as more poetic than scientific. 

Whether you experience your eucalyptol in your cannabis products, food, or cough drops, this terpene’s health-boosting and pleasure-enhancing benefits are unmistakable.

Medical Disclaimer / Legal Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up to date but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis is evolving. The author is neither a legal professional nor a medical expert. Before buying or using any products, you should check with your local authorities and medical providers.

References

  1. https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB03852
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptol
  3. https://www.leafly.com/news/science-tech/benefits-of-ocimene-terpene 
  4. https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/10822 
  5. https://patents.google.com/patent/EP1901610A1
  6. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/molecule-of-the-week/archive/e/eucalyptol.html#:~:text=Eucalyptol%2C%20also%20frequently%20called%201,)%2C%20and%20even%20Cannabis%20sativa
  7. https://leafwell.com/blog/eucalyptol/
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptol
  9. https://www.rch.org.au/clinicalguide/guideline_index/Eucalyptus_Oil_Poisoning/
  10. https://drugs.ncats.io/drug/RV6J6604TK#:~:text=Eucalyptol%20comprises%20up%20to%2090,and%20other%20aromatic%20plant%20foliage.

Frequently Asked Questions

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are both naturally-occurring cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, and both have the same molecular structure. A slight difference in how the atoms are arranged accounts for the differing effects on your body.

Yes. Pure terpenes whether from cannabis or other botanical sources do not contain THC.  All hemp-derived products, including terpenes, are federally-compliant because they are from hemp and contain less than .3% Delta-9 THC. As long as terpene products conform to the guidelines, they are fully compliant with Farm Bill regulations. 

Though all the terpenes in cannabis are technically botanical-derived, as cannabis is a plant, the cannabis industry has come to differentiate between cannabis-derived terpenes and botanical-derived (non-cannabis-derived) terpenes.

Eucalyptol is often used in products meant to treat discomfort from symptoms of bronchitis, such as cough suppressants and cold medicines.

P menthane is a component of eucalyptol.

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