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Linalool and its Medicinal Properties (Backed Up by Science)
Linalool is one of the most widespread and beneficial terpenes. After all, it’s one of the main constituents of lavender, a staple of aromatherapy that has grown into an epitome of peace, bliss, relaxation, and hypnotizing scent.
Besides lavender and its famous essential oils, linalool is also found in more than 200 plants, including mint and other members of the Lamiaceae family, rosewood, cinnamon, laurels and other members of the Lauraceae family, coriander, clove, as well as many skincare and personal products, flavoring agents, and insecticides.
Linalool’s deeply soothing and therapeutic powers that we’ve come to indirectly know it for through lavender seem to translate into medicine with great promise. Moreover, since the terpene hits a few different targets in the central nervous system at once that unlock sedative, anesthetic, and analgesic responses, its effects are practically mutually synergistic.
Linalool has an inhibitory effect on the release mechanism of acetylcholine in mice, which is a brain chemical, involved in muscle contraction. This gives grounds to believe the terpene has anesthetic activity, something that has been reinforced by another study, which found linalool to block the excitability of peripheral nerves, including the sciatic nerve. The scientists concluded that “linalool acts on the somatic sensory system with local anesthetic properties.”
As an extension to the previous point, linalool has an affinity for adenosine and its receptors, which is an inhibitory brain chemical that coffee respectively blocks, which makes perfect sense, given the terpene’s famous sedative effect. However, a study on mice found that that the linalool-induced adenosine stimulation causes pain relief as well.
Furthermore, a human, placebo-controlled study investigated how lavender oil inhalation affected the need for opioid medication of obese patients post gastric banding surgery. The oil reduced both the intensity of the opioid craving and its frequency among patients by roughly 50%.
Of course, the soothing, pleasantly sedative properties of lavender (of which linalool is a key component as mentioned above) are world-famous, and more importantly, they’re backed up by scientific studies. Inhaling lavender oil before bed has been found to increase sleep quality and respectively energy levels the following morning, in none other than insomniacs.
Stress Relief and Anti-Depressant
It’s only natural to assume that linalool’s sedative effects extend to stress relief as well, but nevertheless, assuming isn’t in line with science’s best practices.
Indeed, linalool odor has exhibited anxiolytic and anti-depressant influence on mice, empowering them to spend more time in “fear-inducing” environments and galvanizing them to try harder to beat the odds and escape unfavorable circumstances. Moreover, these effects were “mediated by γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic transmission via benzodiazepine (BDZ)-responsive GABAA receptors.” This is noteworthy, as benzodiazepine, or “benzos,” is another class of psychoactive prescription drugs with a contentious reputation due to their tricky, slippery nature.
It’s also worth mentioning that the anxiolytic effect in the study came without any motor impairment.
But linalool’s stress-relieving effects don’t end there, but in fact appear to be synergistic in themselves. As you may have heard, stress doesn’t just plague the mind, it affects our physical health as well by triggering physiological changes in the ratio between neutrophils and lymphocytes that make up our white blood cells. In a study on mice, linalool prevented this very shift, bolstering the rodents’ immune system’s defense against stress.
Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroprotective
Linalool showcased its anti-inflammatory promise in a study on a mouse model of acute lung injury, which involved both in vitro and in vivo conditions. The researchers concluded that the terpene is “a potential therapeutic candidate for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.”
Being that neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s are caused by rampant inflammation of the brain, anti-inflammatory agents come with some neuroprotective implications by default. In that line of thought, linalool was tested on mice with Alzheimer’s and was found to significantly reduce pro-inflammatory markers’ levels and thus “reverse the histopathological hallmarks of AD and restore cognitive and emotional functions,” making it “an AD prevention candidate for preclinical studies.”
A lot of terpenes exhibit some antimicrobial qualities, and linalool doesn’t fall behind. It was found effective against periodontopathic and cariogenic bacteria, along with alpha-terpineol. However, bear in mind “their concentration should be kept below 0.4 mg/ml if they are to be used as components of toothpaste or gargling solution.”