Understanding Terpenes: Geraniol
A deeper look into the fragrant oils and powerful compounds that boost the healing potential of cannabis.
Diehard fans of fruity or sweetly floral scents like berries or roses may not be aware that they have an affinity for a terpene called geraniol that is also found in cannabis and a variety of other plants, herbs and fruits. As the name suggests, it occurs naturally in geraniums as well as in roses, lemongrass, peaches, passion fruit, blackberries, blueberries, coriander, nutmeg, bergamot, lemon peels and even carrots. Bees also naturally produce geraniol in their scent-producing glands and use the aroma of it to mark their territories against other colonies.
Geraniol is a primary part of rose oil, palmarosa oil and citronella oil. The aroma and flavor has a range of sweet notes from sugary and rosy to citrus. Its taste is often used in different foods as an enhancer and flavoring agent to reproduce the flavor of several fruits in desserts like candies and ice cream and the smell can commonly be found in all types of bath, body and beauty products from lotions, creams and perfumes to soap and detergent.
The terpene has a variety of medicinal and therapeutic uses as well. It’s a natural antioxidant that has anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties that can be useful in treating many different types of cancer. The International Journal of Oncology published a study that provides evidence that geraniol could discourage tumorous cell growth in oral, colon, lung, prostate, breast, pancreatic and liver cancer. Plus, it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help reduce infections. In a study published by a medical journey called Lipids, geraniol is shown to be effective at inhibiting the growth of certain types of fungus.
Geraniol has also been shown to be anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and have a lot of potential as a neuroprotectant. A study published by the Journal of Neuroscience research showed that the terpene can be useful in treating neuropathy which is common among people who have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. The condition damages the peripheral nerves and causes numbness, weakness, pain or loss of sensitivity in the hands and feet. In the experiment, geraniol was able to lower enhanced cytosolic calcium levels and acetylcholinesterase activity, reduce levels of protein carbonyls and nitrates and restore the activities of enzymes.
It’s common for strains with high linalool profiles to be rich in geraniol as well. A few strains that have geraniol in them include Afghan (a calming hybrid that’s good for an euphoric, balanced buzz), Headband (a pain-relieving hybrid that helps with depression, anxiety and headaches), Amnesia Haze (a citrusy sativa strain that’s uplifting and energizing), Great White Shark (a heavy-hitting sativa that will reduce stress and improve bad moods) and Sweet Skunk (a potent hybrid that leans more towards a cerebral high).
According to Steep Hill Labs, geraniol is also closely related to another terpene called citronellol which has “used as a natural mosquito repellent for over 2,000 years.” Because it’s used by honey bees to mark nectar-bearing flowers and help find their way back to their hives, geraniol is known to attract them, but it also be used as an effective insect repellent for things other than mosquitoes as well including flies, roaches, fire ants and ticks. So, if you’re ever smoking outside during the summer and wonder why bees are buzzing around you, it may be because they’re getting a whiff of the geraniol in the strain you’re enjoying. But, at least it might keep the mosquitoes and flies away for a little bit.