Terpineol Terpene are what give plants their unique scents and flavors. Today, there are thousands of terpenes in nature, each with distinct characteristics and functions. However, plants aren’t the only ones who can benefit from terpenes.
More and more people recognize the importance of terpenes. They aren’t just for flavoring or fragrance use, as these have valuable properties that can treat several physical and mental health issues.
This article will discuss one of the prominent terpenes: terpineol. Read on for a terpene guide on everything terpineol, including its characteristics and health benefits.
Before discussing its benefits, it’s essential to understand what kind of terpene terpineol is. Firstly, terpineol is no ordinary terpene, as it’s an umbrella term referring to monoterpene alcohols. This type of terpene is characterized by the presence of hydroxyl, a unique oxygen-containing functional group, on one of its sides.
Moreover, four isomers make up the terpene terpineol: alpha-, beta-, gamma-terpineol, and terpinen-4-ol.
This terpineol isomer is one of the most common isomers in nature, such as in narcissus and freesia flowers and herbs like sage, oregano, rosemary, tea tree, and bitter orange tea. It also gives off a lilac-like odor, making it an excellent perfume ingredient.
Compared to alpha-terpineol, this isomer is less common. You can find beta-terpineol in mango ginger fruits and the Thymus zygioides flower family. It’s a tertiary alcohol that acts as a plant’s metabolite and can be an excellent component in essential oils and fragrances with its woodsy aroma of fresh-cut trees.
This isomer type is similar to beta-terpineol but differs in the location of its double bond. They also vary in color, where gamma-terpineol is a clear, pale yellow viscous liquid. You can spot this isomer in the Teucrium asiaticum flower family and many produce, such as common thyme, wild celery, cinnamon, myrtle, and root vegetables. In terms of smell, gamma-terpineol emits a citrusy-like fragrance.
Terpinen-4-ol is the terpene terpineol’s isomer derived from the tea tree’s leaves, branches, and barks. Its color and consistency are the same as gamma-terpineol. True to its source, terpinen-4-ol has an earthy smell with a subtle woodsy aroma and is a component of essential oils like turpentine and lavender. As such, this terpene isomer can provide the mental health benefits of terpenes.
On top of the mentioned sources, this terpene comes from several flowers, fruits, and spices, including apples, basil, rosemary, eucalyptus, and pines. Aside from its aroma, one terpineol benefit is that you can use them as a flavor additive with its mint, lime, and anise taste.
Terpineol Health Benefits
Using terpenes entails understanding their effects to maximize their benefits, and the same goes for terpineol. Here are some of the terpineol’s health benefits that are worth noting:
- Antioxidant properties
Oxidative stress is the overwhelming presence of unstable, reactive oxygen species (ROS) over antioxidants within the body.
According to a study, the antioxidant effect of terpineol can reduce the production of free radicals in monocytes when exposed to specific triggers. It can prevent damage to the body’s tissues and organs that can lead to diseases. As such, terpineol shows the potential to become an antioxidant in food, cosmetics, and medicinal products.
- Anti-inflammatory effects
Scientific research has shown terpineol can have anti-inflammatory effects in vitro. With this, researchers have conducted a new study to see its potential in an in vivo state.
The results conclude that injecting alpha-terpineol in rats with a high-fat diet can counteract the adverse effects, such as reduced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This suggests that terpineol has the potential to alleviate inflammation.
- Pain-relieving properties
Neuropathic pains typically involve nerve damage or injuries, making it difficult for people to carry out daily tasks. This pain type commonly stems from producing pro-inflammatory substances such as microglial cells and cytokines. However, research has shown that terpineol can be a viable analgesic.
The analgesic effect of terpineol is comparable to that of the standard anti-neuropathic pain treatment by reducing the levels of pro-inflammatory substances in the body. It can also decrease cytokine levels in the spinal tissue. Additionally, terpineol can alleviate allodynia, cold allodynia, and extreme sensitivity to pain.
- Antibacterial activities
When tested against Escherichia coli (E. coli), terpineol exhibited potent antibacterial effects. Results show that terpineol can inhibit the growth of E. coli with a low dose of 0.78 μL/mL in minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) tests.
Terpineol has also caused physical changes in the bacteria, including ruptured cell walls and membranes, irregular shape, and reduced cytoplasm.
- Anticonvulsant effects
Although several anticonvulsant drugs exist, not all epileptic patients are receptive to them, and some cause unwanted side effects. This dilemma has prompted researchers to look into the potential of terpineol as an anticonvulsant.
A study has shown that terpineol-treated rats experience longer intervals between convulsion episodes and reduced hind-limb extension from maximal electroshock tests. The results suggest its anticonvulsant potential with fewer side effects.
- Antihypertensive effects
Terpineol has also shown its capacity to relax the blood vessels. Due to this reaction, researchers have found that terpineol-treated mice experienced a significant drop in blood pressure, unlike their placebo counterparts.
- Antinociceptive activities
Besides its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, another terpineol benefit is that it can reduce pain sensations. According to research, terpineol prevents glutamate production, a neurotransmitter that sends pain signals to the brain. With this, terpineol is confirmed to provide excellent protection against nociception.
Unlocking the Therapeutic Potential of Terpineol
Terpene use has become prevalent in recent years, especially as more people discover its multiple health benefits. While many terpenes exist, understanding their characteristics and properties can help maximize their benefits. This way, you won’t just have tasty food or fragrant scents, but you can also attain optimal health with your terpineol.