Terpenes is the latest buzzword in the cannabis industry, with many people coming to learn that these chemicals play an integral role in how cannabis is experienced.
With all the talk about terpenes, it’s high time cannabis users began to understand this term and the implications it has on the remedial effects of cannabis. Eucalyptol is one such terpene, often found in cannabis, but most prevalent in the Eucalyptus tree.
Eucalyptol is responsible for the delicious aroma of Eucalyptus that can be smelt when walking through a Eucalyptus forest or sniffing a bottle of Eucalyptus oil.
It, along with all terpenes, are the volatile essential oils that give all herbs, vegetables, flowers and trees their unique aromas. However, smelling delicious isn’t the only purpose of terpenes. In fact, these special chemicals have direct effects on the central nervous system, affecting a wide variety of physiologies, including mood, digestion and sleep.
The healing power of terpenes is essentially the entire principle on which aromatherapy is based. And actually, many researchers contribute marijuana’s healing power to the synergistic effects that cannabinoids have with the terpenes also contained in the cannabis plant. Every full-spectrum cannabis extraction contains the naturally occurring terpenes of the cannabis plant, all of which contribute, in some way, to the effects felt after consuming.
Terpenes and the entourage effect
Terpenes, when used on their own, have a subtle effect on the human nervous system. Aromatherapy is based in this principle, whereby consuming small amounts of essential oil or simply inhaling the aroma repetitively affects the nervous system in a subtle and gentle way. This may affect mood, sleep latency, digestion and a plethora of other things. However, when we look at the effect of terpenes in the context of consuming cannabis, we are confronted with something very different.
When terpenes such as eucalyptol are consumed in the context of cannabis, their effect is said to be synergistic with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. It means that the properties of both the terpenes and cannabinoids are enhanced by each other, increasing the effects that the user would otherwise feel if they used cannabinoids or terpenes on their own.
Full-spectrum cannabis extracts or simple cannabis flowers give the opportunity to experience the entourage effect. Most herbalists and naturopaths prefer this holistic form of medicine, rather than the modern medical paradigm of reductionism. Essentially, the human body is far too complex to be reduced down to one of its parts. Holism, along with systems biology, try to harness the power of phenomena such as the entourage effect because these phenomena address multiple aspects of human health all at the same time.
As a matter of fact, cannabis is loaded with a myriad of different terpenes, eucalyptol being only one of them. Consuming cannabis is something like cannabinoid therapy and aromatherapy all in one hit. And as you’re about to discover, the healing power of cannabinoids are fully synergistic with the healing power of eucalyptol.
What is eucalyptol and what does it do?
As the name of this terpene suggests, eucalyptol is a chemical most commonly found in the Eucalyptus tree. However, it is also found in cannabis, bay leaves, sage, basil, rosemary and camphor. It has a minty or mentol-like smell, and is used in almost every household product, from cleaning products to baby wipes to massage oils!
The most ancient and common application of eucalyptol as a medicinal compound is in the treatment of respiratory diseases. This is why eucalyptus inhalation is recommended for those with the flu or the cold. With that being said, eucalyptol is currently being researched for its potential to treat more chronic and debilitating conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Along with giving respiratory relief, eucalyptol is also anti-inflammatory. It is perhaps this anti-inflammatory characteristic that makes it so effective at treating respiratory ailments. For example, in this 2003 study, eucalyptol was investigated for its anti-inflammatory potential for those suffering from bronchial asthma. Researchers found that at least 25% of patients were able to reduce steroid treatment in place of eucalyptol treatment.
Interestingly, eucalyptol is also heavily on the radar of many scientists for its hypoglycemic effects. It may be a useful agent in treating those with Type 2 Diabetes, reducing blood sugar levels enough to elicit a significant medical response.
In aromatherapy, eucalyptus essential oil (of which the main ingredient is eucalyptol) is typically used as a decongestant. It is also used to improve skin health and sometimes, as an antimicrobial agent.
Strains high in eucalyptol
Every strain of cannabis (and in fact, every specimen) has a different composition of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. While some strains of cannabis are higher in certain terpenes, they lack others. In general, it is quite rare for a strain of cannabis to contain significant volumes of eucalyptol, but there are a few strains that meet the mark.
Super Silver Haze
Of all the strains of cannabis, Super Silver Haze demonstrates the highest amount of eucalyptol. In some rare cases, it contains up to .6% eucalyptol. In general, this sativa strain used to combat stress, depression and pain. It has quite an uplifting and happy effect on the user. However, not many people describe a minty smell with Super Silver Haze. It smells more like a citrus fruit!
Bubba Kush also contains a small amount of eucalyptol. Unlike Super Silver Haze, this strain is almost pure indica. It is a relaxing strain that is used medically to deal with stress and chronic pain. Overall, it has a pungent earthy smell that might remind you of a eucalyptus forest.
Girl Scout Cookies
This strain is a staple in just about every cannabis user’s life. One of the phenotypes of GSC is called Thin Mint because the leaves look somewhat minty and it has the characteristic smell of mint. This may have something to do with its eucalyptol content. Medically, GSC is used to treat stress and depression.
You might not expect to find eucalyptol in huge volumes in the cannabis plant, but it is one of the active terpenes. As mentioned, when used on their own, terpenes have quite a subtle effect. However, on small volumes are required in the cannabis plant to create the energetic synergy between the terpene itself and cannabinoids. This is why the role of terpenes is so enormous, even if it looks so small!