What is geraniol? Uses and effects of this terpene found in cannabis
Interest in cannabis terpenes has never been higher. Cannabis growers are far more aware of the importance of terpenes than ever before. They help modulate the type of cannabis ‘high’ that you feel. Terpenes also define the wonderful cannabis aroma and the subtle taste differences from one strain to the next. Read on to find out more about geraniol, the cannabis terpene with a sweet rose scent.
What is geraniol?
Geraniol is a type of organic compound known as a terpene. Terpenes are found in cannabis as well as many other plant species. Geraniol is the main compound found in Rose oil. Geraniol is also found in cannabis plants as well as in Palmarosa oil (from a species of lemongrass) and Citronella oil (also derived from lemongrass). Geraniol can also be found in Lemon oil, Geranium oil and many other plant-derived essential oils. In nature geraniol is a relatively abundant compound. Geraniol is often used a natural flavour additive or in perfumes.
Geraniol chemical formula and structure
Geraniol is known as a monoterpenoid. It is a clear and colourless oily liquid which doesn't dissolve well in water. Geraniol’s chemical structure is shown below.
One unusual natural use for geraniol is by bees. They mark the entrance to their hive with trace amounts of geraniol. Bees also mark particularly good nectar-bearing plants with geraniol.
Where can you find geraniol?
You can find geraniol in trace quantities in some cannabis strains. It adds a certain rose sweetness to cannabis strains. Though it may be difficult to detect because cannabis has such a complex mixture of terpenes which vary from one plant to the next.
Since geraniol is a naturally occurring terpene you can expect to find it in other plant species, including rose, geranium and lemongrass. If you have ever wondered how much geraniol is effective, very little is required to produce a sweet fragrance.
List of non-cannabis related products containing geraniol:
- Sun tan products
- Edible fruit flavourings
- Moisturising creams
- Shampoos & hair conditioners
Geraniol terpene profile
The geraniol chemical formula is shown in the graphic below. Geraniol is made from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules. As well as producing a sweet and appealing rose/floral aroma, one of the uses of geraniol is in the biosynthesis of the terpenes myrcene and ocimene.
Geraniol has many uses, both as a safe natural additive to add taste/scent. Or as a bio-intermediate used by the cannabis plant for creating other compounds. If you have ever wondered what is geraniol made of and where does Geraniol come from, it’s a naturally occurring plant oil which can be found in abundant quantities in lemongrass.
Geraniol smell and geraniol aroma
The sweet appealing scent of roses is one of those aromas which seems to enjoy universal praise. It’s a delicate and gentle fragrance which delights your nose and causes you to want to inhale and sample the aroma once more. Without doubt, food scientists and scientists involved in cosmetics have seen geraniol as one of the more attractive natural terpenes and it has been used widely.
Initial studies into the effects of geraniol have shown some surprising results. Tests on mammals indicate that geraniol’s properties include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-oxidant properties. So, if you ever wondered how does geraniol kill bugs? It’s thanks to the anti-microbial properties. Furthermore, researchers found that geraniol may exhibit neuro-protective properties.
Overall, researchers found geraniol to be a depressant on the central nervous system. Depressants are drugs which inhibit the performance of the central nervous system. This allows increased relaxation, drowsiness in high concentrations, decreased inhibition and anaesthesia. Depressants are among the worlds most popular types of drug. Don't be confused by the name, depressants don't cause mental depression. The name refers to the way the relax the body and central nervous system.
This scientific paper, although not easy to read with a high technical content, explains more about the effects of geraniol. One question which isn't easy to answer is about the geraniol terpene effects on the type of high you experience. More research needs to be done on geraniol rich cannabis strains.
What is the boiling point of geraniol and why is that important?
Geraniol boils at 230ºC, it is an essential oil that is stable at low temperatures and for that reason it is a useful all-round natural additive that can be used in a range of applications, from foods to cosmetics. The geraniol structure is unique, change any part of it and it becomes a different terpene.
What is geraniol used for?
Geraniol is a naturally occurring compound which can be simply produced by steam distillation of lemon grass. Extensive testing has shown geraniol to be safe, free from side effects and with minimal allergenic properties. As such, the attractive fragrance and sweet taste has seen geraniol become a relatively popular additive and is used in a range of products.
Geraniol is used extensively by the cosmetic industry where the sweet floral aroma gives a fresh and clean fragrance to every day items such as hair products, skin creams, moisturising products and skin protection products such as sun tan lotions.
The food industry uses geraniol oil as a natural way to add sweetness and a pleasant aroma especially to fruit products.
Geraniol safety and toxicity
The USA Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) include geraniol as a flavouring which is ‘Generally Regarded As Safe’. This gives it the ‘GRAS’ categorisation, allowing it to be used widely. Often, but not always, naturally occurring organic materials such as plant produced terpenes tend to be regarded as safe materials with many years of safe use.
The Expert Panel Research Institute for Fragrance Materials have also fully investigated geraniol for use in cosmetics. They also regard geraniol as a safe material for use in skin care and cosmetic products. Read more here about the cosmetic safety of geraniol.
Is geraniol safe for your cats, dogs and other pets?
Geraniol oil is approved for use in human foods and domestic products. So at the low concentrations approved for human use it is unlikely to cause issues in other mammals. In reality, animals would only come across geraniol when it is present as a natural component in the foods that they eat. Geraniol safety has been assured by various Government agencies meaning geraniol toxicity is nothing to worry about.
How to naturally extract geraniol
Ever wondered how to make geraniol? Often geraniol oil is made by steam distillation of lemongrass. Lemongrass is mixed with boiling water, the steam is collected and condensed. The steam carries the geraniol away from the plant cellulose. Once the steam cools and condenses it separates into two layers, one water and one oily layer containing geraniol. You can read more about the process here.
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