Linalool is a terpene alcohol that occurs in nature and that is found in more than two hundred different species of plants. It is an important constituent of many essential oils, and it is even found in some fungi. It has two stereoisomers – (S)-(+)-linalool is known as coriandrol, while (R)-linalool is known as licareol.
Linalool is colorless, or very pale yellow. It has a floral fragrance and it is commonly used in cleaning products, lipsticks, perfumes, shampoos and bubble bath. It can be extracted from plants, and it is also sometimes made synthetically.
Linalool is a common terpene that is found in the cannabis plant, but it is not cannabis that it is most commonly known as a component in. Linalool is found in lavender and actually contributes to the plant’s distinct flavor and its powerful scent. It is a popular aromatherapy and sleeps aid and it is also a powerful relaxant. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used as an anxiety treatment and it has also been used as a sleep aid.1 Linalool is linked to the production of Vitamin E, which means that it is an important terpene to help support the healthy functioning of the human body.
The presence of linalool in cannabis is something that has caused it to attract much attention. It is found in higher quantities in purple strains, but not all samples of marijuana test as being high in linalool. Some of the purple strains test higher in pinene, borneol, limonene, or other terpenes. More research into the terpenes found in cannabis would be required to give a clear idea of the contents, and what phenotypes contain which terpenes.
Classification Within Terpenes: Terpene Alcohol
The Uses of Linalool
Linalool is an anxiolytic agent, which means that it has powerful anti-stress effects. This is the reason behind the fact that when linalool is found in an essential oil, that essential oil relieves stress. When used in aromatherapy, it can support decreasing aggressive behavior, a lower stress response, and better sleep. There are two mechanisms by which linalool improves sleep – firstly, the relaxing, anti-stress effects, and secondly through a direct sedative impact. For thousands of years, traditional medicine has used oils that contain linalool as a way of promoting relaxation and improving sleep. Over the last 20 years there have been many studies into the effects of linalool, and while some have struggled to show a direct link, there is increasing evidence that linalool can help to promote relaxation and improve a person’s ability to sleep, and their sleep quality.2
Reducing Congestion and Lung Inflammation
Linalool can be used as a decongestant, and as an anti-inflammatory. It is often added to other aromatherapy oils to produce inhalers that can help to relieve respiratory issues.
Linalool can help to reduce general inflammation and pain. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory so only small amounts are needed for therapeutic benefit. A study published in the Journal of Phytomedicine in 2002 found that it performed well as an anti-inflammatory, and while there was a small amount of cytotoxicity, this was outweighed by the significant reduction of inflammation.
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A follow-on study that was conducted in 2003 found that there were additional analgesic properties. It is thought that there was an antinociceptive effect, where linalool would block the feelings of pain, as well as at the same time bringing down the inflammation. These effects together are highly beneficial. In 2006, Peana continued those studies and focused on the mechanisms used by linalool to prevent pain. The study produced more evidence that it was a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal
Linalool is an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent that can help to reduce the risk of skin infections. It must be used only in small quantities, however, because it can irritate the skin when applied directly in higher concentrations. The oils are not likely to sensitize the skin in the way that you might experience with things such as chemical peels, but it is not recommended to use them on a regular basis.3
Other benefits that have been attributed to linalool and the oils that contain it include analgesic, anti-depressant, and even antiepileptic.
Additional Information About Linalool
Linalool is used as a fragrance and a preservative in many cosmetics. It is generally recognized as safe as a flavoring agent by the FDA, and it is considered safe as an ingredient in cosmetics as well. It is acceptable for use as a flavoring agent and a fragrance in Europe, however it is included on the list of allergenic substances, which means that its presence must be highlighted on labels if it is present in leave-on the skin products at a concentration of more than 0.001%, or if it is present in rinse-off products at a concentration of greater than 0.01%.4
Linalool can be cytotoxic at concentrations greater than 0.25%. Cytotoxic substances can cause cell death which can prove positive when the purpose is to kill cancerous cells, such as chemotherapy does.5 While the amounts of linalool that are found in most cosmetics and indeed even in essential oils are minimal, it is important to be aware of the presence of linalool in massage oils. When used in aromatherapy oils, as a fragrance, linalool is generally recognized as safe. The way that the oil oxidizes, however, can make it a potential irritant so proper storage is essential.
More study into the benefits and use of linalool is needed in order to ensure that it is being used safely and that the full benefits are being harnessed. One study conducted in 2004 found that lavender oil, which contains high amounts of linalool, could be damaging to human cells. The study relied on high concentrations of lavender oil and did not use pure linalool.
Molecular Formula:6 C10H180
Molecular Weight: 154.25g/mol
Boiling Point: 198 degrees Celcius