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Terpene Spotlight: All Things Are Rosy With the Help of Geraniol

Chane Leigh

by Chane Leigh

March 31, 2022 03:30 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
Medically reviewed by Dr. Abraham Benavides
Terpene Spotlight: All Things Are Rosy With the Help of Geraniol

Many consumers rely on the cannabis classifications Indica or Sativa when deciding which products to buy. However, the problem with using this method is that the cannabis strains have been so crossbred that nearly all strains are hybrids. In other words, most cannabis strains are a cross between both Indica and Sativa. Fortunately for cannabis consumers, terpenes serve as a better indicator of which cannabis type would be best for you. So far we have uncovered the therapeutic properties of the more common terpenes found in cannabis, now let’s have a look at a terpene called Geraniol.

Quick Overview of Terpenes

Cannabis contains aromatic compounds, which are called terpenes or terpenoids (terpenes plus oxygen). The terpenes are what cause the cannabis flower (the bud) to have distinctive smells, tastes, and colors. They also offer up their own sets of benefits in addition to the benefits of the cannabis cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Terpenes can be found in many other plants and fruits such as lavender, pine tree cones, and even mango.

Linalool, humulene, caryophyllene, limonene, myrcene, and pinene have all had their turn in the terpene spotlight which highlights their anti-inflammatory, stress relief, anti-proliferative and relaxing effects amongst many others specific to each terpene. Just smelling these terpenes can offer up a small taste of their benefits. Now we get to benefit from another terpene, which may be less common but is definitely worth its own spotlight.

What is Geraniol?

Geraniol is an organic and aromatic compound found in cannabis as well as in other plant species, much like any other terpene. If you’re a fan of rose oil, then you’ll like this terpene as it is the main compound found in rose oil. It can even be found in lemon oil, geranium oil as well as in many perfumes. This aromatic compound is also colorless or a pale yellow and is an oil, which is not soluble in water. Concentrated geraniol by itself can be an eye, skin, or respiratory irritant if taken in excess so the concentrated oil by itself should probably be avoided.

Geraniol produces a sweet and floral aroma much like the scent of a rose and is often used in biosynthesis with the terpenes myrcene and ocimene. Scientists and cosmetic professionals have long held the belief that geraniol is one of the more attractive natural terpenes with a wide range of use. An example of one of its wide variety of uses includes something slightly unrelated to cannabis but cool nonetheless, is that bees make use of geraniol to mark the entrance of their hives as well as using geraniol to mark plants that bear good nectar.

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Benefits of Geraniol

Geraniol has been found to offer insecticidal and repellent benefits and can be used as natural pest control. While those benefits are good, it’s probably not the medical ones you were hoping for. Luckily that is just one of its many benefits. This terpene has also been found to act as a promising chemopreventive for some types of cancer both in vitro and in vivo human cancer cell models (e.g. pancreatic, liver, lung, colon, and melanoma). This means that with more research geraniol can potentially one day be used to prevent cancer from occurring, especially in those that are most at risk of cancer. Geraniol has effects on certain human cancer cells as well as the aberrant tumor blood vessels that make them possible (1)

The same review study also found that this terpene performs biological activities including acting as an antimicrobial agent. Acting as an antimicrobial agent means that it is active against microbes (micro-organisms) which can put our health at risk leading to infectious disease and illness, especially in immunocompromised individuals. Additionally, geraniol is an antioxidant which means that it prevents or/and slows down the damage that may be caused to cells by free radicals (unstable molecules produced as a reaction to the environment or pressures). Its antioxidant activity in mice was neuroprotective in models of nerve damage and spinal cord injury. These should be considered for further study in humans.

Geraniol is also an anti-inflammatory which means that the terpene reduces inflammation and swelling in the body. In mice, geraniol prevented damage from an inflammatory model of ulcerative colitis and prevent further ulceration (2). The anti-inflammatory effects were also seen in mice in a variety of inflammatory disease models. Inflammatory damage from non-alcoholic steatohepatitis was reduced, as well as diabetes and subsequent nerve damage. Geraniol also reduced high cholesterol, arrhythmia, and the risk of heart disease in mice. Geraniol could be a hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, and antidiabetic agent in humans if further studies are done to prove its potential benefits.

Another review study also found that geraniol has been receiving a lot of attention for its ability to act “as a penetration enhancer for transdermal drug delivery.” Transdermal drug delivery is when therapy or medication is being delivered through the skin as the main route of drug delivery. By being a penetration enhancer for transdermal drug delivery, geraniol is improving the patient’s ability to take in and use the transdermal drug(s). Some studies found that geraniol is also antibacterial and antiseptic. These potential benefits may be helpful for reducing acne breakouts, skin irritation as well as infections when applied topically, although they haven’t been specifically investigated yet. Being anti-bacterial means that the terpene fights against bacteria that could be causing trouble or harm to your health. The antiseptic properties of geraniol mean that it can reduce the possibility of and fights against infection, sepsis, and putrefaction of wounds.

Potential Properties Include:

  • Insect repellant
  • Chemopreventive
  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Hepatoprotective 
  • Neuroprotective 
  • Cardioprotective 
  • Antidiabetic 
  • Penetration enhancer for transdermal drug delivery
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Antiseptic

Cannabis Strains Containing Geraniol

  • Harlequin
  • Amnesia Haze
  • Strawberry Diesel
  • Tahoe OG
  • Master Kush
  • Dutch Hawaiian
  • Lemon OG
  • Afghani
  • Headband
  • Great White Shark 
  • Master Shark
  • OG Shark 
  • Lavender 

Geraniol is a terpene that smells like roses and offers so many benefits it sounds like something dreamt up, but the reality is that this lovely terpene is widely available and can boost the benefits offered up by cannabis and its cannabinoids. Most of the evidence surrounding geraniol is still preclinical and may not necessarily translate into humans, so clinical trials are required to determine true benefits and long-term effects. If you have any experiences with strains containing geraniol, let us know in the comment section below!

1. Chen, W., & Viljoen, A. M. (2010). Geraniol — a review of a commercially important fragrance material. South African Journal of Botany, 76(4), 643–651. 

2. Lei, Y., Fu, P., Jun, X., & Cheng, P. (2019). Pharmacological Properties of Geraniol – A Review. Planta medica, 85(1), 48–55.

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