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Ocimene’s Therapeutic Potential (Revealed In Scientific Studies)
Ocimene might not be among the better known terpenes, but that’s because of its rarity in cannabis and not any lack of quality or character.
Ocimene’s scent is universally beloved despite being somewhat unusual. It’s sweet and woodsy, with floral, herbaceous, and earthy notes. Being that the word “ocimene” itself comes from ocimum, which is Ancient Greek for basil, it’s safe to say that the terpene’s scent is best described as basil-like. However, ocimene is hardly the sole ingredient in basil’s aroma profile.
Besides basil, in nature, ocimene is found in various plants and fruit, including mango, mint, parsley, lavender, kumquats, bergamot, orchids, hops, pepper, and more. But when it doesn’t occur spontaneously, the terpene is often targeted for its pleasant odor and practical benefits and infused into everyday products that span various industries, including perfumes, shampoos, soaps, fabric softeners, hard-surface cleaners, and more.
Ocimene is particularly popular among insecticides, as it seems to be a natural repellent and a key factor in the defense mechanism of certain plants.
But beyond ocimene’s more trivial properties, let’s dive into some scientific studies, in which we catch glimpses of the terpene’s therapeutic potential.
For starters, ocimene, or 2-beta-ocimene, appears to constitute 5.6% of the essential oils from Citrus unshiu flower that was investigated in a study, with other terpenes, such as terpinene, pinene, and limonene, being some of the other major constituents.
This is noteworthy, as the aforementioned essential oils have exhibited anti-inflammatory activity, including the ability to suppress the production of inflammatory cytokines that can otherwise trigger a cytokine storm when left unchecked. Cytokine storm is a common physiological reaction, in which the immune system goes overboard in its attempts to curb infection and instead causes severe inflammation, characteristic of autoimmune diseases.
While 5.6% may not seem like much, ocimene was one of the key ingredients listed, not to mention the synergistic “entourage effect” that must have occurred between the terpenes probably played a role in the anti-inflammation activity as well.
Furthermore, on the note of essential oils, Oenanthe crocata is another one that has displayed ant-inflammatory properties in a controlled scientific environment. Even though sabinene, another terpene, seems to be the main topic of discussion along with Oenanthe crocata, ocimene should get its fair share of the credit, as it accounts for almost half of the essential oil’s composition – trans-β-ocimene makes up 31.3% and cis-β-ocimene does 12.3%. Sabinene constitutes 29%.
Besides anti-inflammatory activity, Oenanthe crocata was found to have antioxidant and antifungal potential as well.
Speaking of antifungal potential and essential oils as always, the ones from Angelica major displayed antifungal activity against Candida, Cryptococcus, Aspergillus and dermatophyte species in a study, published in the Journal of Natural Medicines. Ocimene and pinene are the stars of the show, accounting for 30.4% and 21.8%, respectively.
“The activity, displayed by Angelica major essential oil and its main components, associated with low cytotoxic activity, confirms their potential as an antifungal agent against fungal species frequently implicated in human mycoses, particularly cryptococcosis and dermatophytosis,” the researchers conclude.
And to continue the conversation on essential oils, but with an addition that is relevant to any conversation nowadays – coronavirus, a study examined how the essential oils of seven Lebanon species stacked up against SARS-CoV, a coronavirus (not to be confused with COVID-19).
“L. nobilis oil exerted an interesting activity against SARS-CoV. This oil was characterized by the presence of beta-ocimene, 1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene as the main constituents,” the researchers note.
This will hopefully spark the scientific community’s curiosity enough to investigate if ocimene’s antiviral potential holds up beyond the in vitro stages.
Ocimene may not have as wide of a range of therapeutic applications as some of the more famous terpenes, but on the flip side, it appears alongside some of them in essential oils with a lot of therapeutic mystic around them, mystic that is being backed up by science. Not only does this suggest that ocimene has some noteworthy powers of its own, but also reveals it as a team player that works great in concert with other terpenes, like pinene.