If you’ve ever wondered why lavender has such a calming effect you’ll be delighted to learn about Linalool. It is a naturally occurring terpene found in many plants such as lavender and cannabis. A terpene is one of several aromatic molecules that give plants their unique effects. Terpenes are found in the resinous glands of cannabis plants (trichomes) and contribute to chemovar’s distinct properties.
Linalool is a monoterpene compound known for its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), calming effects. It comes in two main forms: an R isomer (R-linalool, also known as licareol) and an S isomer (S-linalool, or coriandrol).
Linalool smells floral and musky with a faint hint of spice much like lavender. However it is far more ubiquitous in nature, with R-Linalool found in over 200 different plants such as flowering plants in the Lamiaceae family (lavender, lemon balm, bergamot, rosemary, sage) as well as the present in the Lauraceae and Apiaceae plant families. It is also commonly used in the production of essential oils (aromatherapy), skincare applications, and cosmetic products.
It is also a well-documented antifungal and antimicrobial agent.
What are its effects? What else is it used for?
Many Linalool-rich plants have been traditionally used as anticonvulsants such as the Aeolanthus suaveolens G. Dom (Labiatae) used in the Brazilian Amazon. This is thought to be due to its effects on the central nervous system. Linalool is also a popular natural remedy that may help treat insomnia and improve overall quality of sleep.
Linalool has a long history of being used as a psychotropic anti-anxiety agent. This is due to the fact that essential oil of lavender is reputed to be “…antibacterial, antifungal, anxiolytic, antidepressant, analgesic, carminative (smooth-muscle relaxant), as well as to have beneficial immunomodulatory effects on wound healing.” As such lavender/Linalool is often used to help patients manage anxiety disorders.
Linalool is also thought to be the component in lavender that aids in alleviating skin burns without scarring. It has been found to exert sedating effects on mice upon inhalation and may produce antioceptive (painkilling) sensations as well. This terpene can also demonstrate anaesthetic-like effects comparable to procaine and menthol, two common local anesthetic agents.
How common is it in cannabis?
Unlike the primary terpenes Myrcene, Pinene and Limonene, Linalool is not generally one of the main terpenes that dominates cannabis chemovar profiles. As such it is usually available in trace amounts.
Many “indica” chemovars are classified as such as they may contain high levels of Linalool as well as the monoterpene Myrcene. The combination of these two terpenes generally has a sedating effect that may produce a “couch lock” sensation or feelings of drowsiness.
One study analyzed 233 samples representing 30 cultivars to identify terpene content. They found Linalool existed in high concentrations in the following chemovars: Gelato, Triple O, Sherbert, Skywalker and Gas.
Some chemovars that are colloquially believed to have high levels of Linalool include those from the kush family as well as the Lavender and Do-Si-Dos chemovars. This Leafly article lists several Linalool-rich chemovars produced by Canadian companies. You can also find another list here.
However as chemovars can vary in terpene content from grower to grower and even batch to batch, it’s a good idea to check out a flower’s certificate of analysis whenever possible.
Where else is it found?
Linalool is surprisingly more common than you might think. While the R isomer is present in the lavender family the S isomer is expressed in a variety of other plants such as coriander and kiwifruit.
Its distinct scent effects make it a popular ingredient in many skincare and cosmetic applications. In this respect it is commonly used for many night creams, perfumes and bath bombs.
Commercially speaking Linalool is also significant as it is used to produce a variety of other fragrant chemicals such as Geraniol and Nerol. It is also one of the leading compounds involved in the synthesis of vitamin E and A.
Lavender essential oil rich in Linalool can also be inhaled for immediate effect. This can be achieved through a diffuser or by using select products with Linalool built in such as CBD inhalers.