Terpene Showcase: Terpineol, The Cancer Tumor Killer


For those of you who are not familiar with terpenes and the important role they play in the cannabis plant, here is a link to an article I wrote about Terpenes.

Today’s terpene showcase features terpineol which has been proven to have the capacity to kill cancerous tumors. It is also an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, an antifungal and an antidepressant.

There are at least four naturally occurring isomers of terpineol in cannabis. These are alpha terpineol, (α-terpineol), beta terpineol (β-terpineol), gamma terpineol (γ-terpineol), and 4-terpineol (also sometimes called terpinen-4-ol). Alpha terpineol is the most common and best studied of the four isomers.

Terpineol has an aroma similar to lilacs, clove, citrus, apple blossoms and even eucalyptus. Its flavor has been compared to mint and anise. Terpineol is related to the terpene, alpha-pinene, which smells very strongly of pine. The delicate lilac aroma of terpineol is often overpowered by large quantities of the pine scented pinene which are typically found together in the cannabis plant. Terpineol is commonly found in perfumes, scented soaps, body lotion and other cosmetics.

Terpineol has a mild sedative, relaxing effect on users and great for sleep, especially for those with insomnia. Anecdotal evidence suggests that terpineol may be a successful treatment option for those with Alzheimer’s Disease. It contibutes to the “couchlock” effect that several indica strains of cannabis elicit, in addition to CBN and other cannabinoids.

Due to its antibiotic properties, it has been shown to treat at least two common strains of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Some 214 million people contract this disease every year. As malaria becomes more and more treatment resistant, terpineol may be the answer to finding an alternative to more conventional options. For you young people, terpineol also inhibits skin acne.

Its most impressive medicinal benefit is its ability to fight cancer by killing tumors. In a June 2010 laboratory study conducted at the University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden, tumor cell samples from 2 patients with leukemia were treated with terpineol. The results indicated that terpineol inhibits tumor growth and induces cell death in tumor cells through a process that inhibits NF-kB pathway. NF-kB activation is responsible for the production of proinflammatory cytokines which signal tumor necrosis factor, causing inflammation and cell death. This study, led by Dr. Saadia Bashir Hassam, appeared in the AntiCancer Research, International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment. Those with small cell lung carcinoma might find strains with terpineol to be particularly helpful.

An August 2000 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found terpineol to be an effective antioxidant by scavenging for free radicals which are responsible for causing inflammation.

A 2014 study conducted in China found that a-terpineol not only kills cancer cells, but also suppresses tumor cell growth and induces apoptosis (cell self-destruction) in liver cancer patients.

A 2016 study appearing in Chemico-Biological Interactions indicated that a-terpineol along with β-cyclodextrin reduced inflammation and chronic pain in mice. Based on these results, those with fibromyalgia, who often suffer with hyperalgesia (low pain threshold), inflammation and intense pain would benefit by using a cannabis strain with terpineol.

Strains containing terpineol include:

  • Girl Scout Cookies
  • Jack Herer
  • OG Kush

More cannabis research with human trials is desperately needed to prove to the scientific community that cannabis is a safe and effective alternative to toxic pharmaceuticals to manage and even cure a myriad of diseases.

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