Terpene Tuesday: Everything You Need to Know About Alpha Bisabolol
In this post:
- What terpenes do
- Alpha-bisabolol research and benefits
- Sources of alpha-bisabolol in nature
- Hemp and cannabis strains with alpha-bisabolol
- Are terpenes psychoactive?
Next time you're brewing a cup of soothing chamomile tea, lift it to your nose and smell its light, warm, floral aroma. This aroma is due to the sesquiterpene, alpha-bisabolol. Sesquiterpenes are antimicrobial agents found in plants with known therapeutic and medicinal properties, including cannabis!
a-Bisabolol, also known as alpha-bisabolol, bisabolol, or levomenol, is most commonly found in chamomile, and it's known for its fresh floral or honey-like fragrance with notes of spice or citrus. A-bisabolol appears in dermatological and cosmetic products, including lotions, shampoos, soaps, and shaving creams, due to its pleasing scent and soothing qualities.
However, modern research shows that a-bisabolol has much more to offer than its sweet scent. a-Bisabolol's therapeutic properties include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-anxiety, anti-depression, and analgesic.
Let’s explore this fascinating compound.
What Do Terpenes Like Alpha-Bisabolol Do?
Alpha-Bisabolol is a naturally occurring terpene found in the essential oil of certain plants. Terpenes like alpha-bisabolol act as a plant’s natural defense system. These substances give plants their characteristic aromas and can also repel insects, deter herbivores, and protect against fungal infections. Some terpenes, like alpha-bisabolol, also have beneficial effects on human health and cosmetics.
Alpha bisabolol is used as a fragrance ingredient in perfumes and other products, like lotions due to its soothing skin applications. On the therapeutic side, a-Bisabolol is known to relieve abdominal pain, display wound healing properties, function as an anxiolytic, and possess antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
While the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, experts believe alpha-bisabolol works by interacting with receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system. This system is involved in regulating various functions, including pain, inflammation, mood, and appetite. By interacting with the endocannabinoid system, alpha-bisabolol may help to reduce inflammation and pain and promote healing.
Alpha-Bisabolol Research and Benefits
Besides being widely used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, a-Bisabolol has several potential therapeutic properties, such as contributing to overall well-being, mood elevation, and deeper sleep. The various applications of a-bisabolol suggest that terpene has the potential to boost whole-body wellness.
Though much of the research conducted in the past was performed on mice, there are promising human studies to support claims of a-bisabolol potential. Some of the current research highlights its promise, such as:
- A 2017 study on mice revealed that bisabolol has the potential to act as an anxiolytic by interacting with GABA, a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve centers in the brain.
- According to a 2016 study, Bisabolol may have the ability to treat kidney injuries due to its powerful antioxidant properties. Researchers made this conclusion based on results showing that this terpene provides protective benefits for kidney conditions.
- A 2011 study suggested Bisabolol's ability to reduce inflammation and pain, suggesting that Bisabolol has analgesic outcomes.
- A 2014 study found that a-bisabolol may reduce cytokines' production – proteins that trigger the immune system – and inhibit skin inflammation without causing side effects.
- A study published in 2011 showed Bisabolol might kill acute leukemia cells. An earlier study in 2010 found that bisabolol inhibits skin, ovarian, breast, and prostate cancer cell growth, showing promise as a potential therapy for cancer patients.
Antibacterial and Antifungal
- Other known properties of Bisabolol have been studied, showing fungicidal and antibacterial actions against Staphylococcus aureus and common fungal infections like Candida.
Sources of Alpha-Bisabolol in Nature
Alpha Bisabolol is found in a variety of plants all over the world, though it is most abundant in the following:
- German Chamomile or Matricaria chamomilla contains approximately 0.5% essential oil, of which roughly 50% is α-bisabolol.
- Candeia tree, Vanillosmopsis erythropappa of Brazil, is reported to be dominated by α-bisabolol, up to a level of 66 to 91%.
- In cannabis, alpha-bisabolol is a minor or secondary terpene, which is present in smaller amounts than primary terpenes such as limonene. The percentage of bisabolol present in cannabis depends on each specific cultivar or strain.
What Cannabis and Hemp Strains Contain Alpha-Bisabolol?
Cannabis Strains with high levels of Bisabolol include:
- Pink Kush is a hybrid with powerful body-focused effects. The potency of this strain could be considered overpowering, and even small doses are known to eliminate pain, insomnia, and appetite loss.
- Rockstar produces powerful mind and body effects that are euphoric and sedating. Medical cannabis patients choose this strain to relieve symptoms associated with headaches, pain, and sleep disorders.
- Dolato is a fruit-forward strain associated with relaxation, euphoria, and happiness.
- ACDC is a CBD-dominant strain that produces little to no intoxicating effects. Medical cannabis patients choose ACDC to help treat various ailments like pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and chemotherapy's adverse effects.
- Harle-Tsu is a high-CBD hybrid. With its high CBD content and virtually non-existent THC content, Harle-Tsu may bring relief to pain and inflammation without euphoria or intoxication.
Are Terpenes Like Alpha-Bisabolol Psychoactive?
Terpenes are not psychoactive in the traditional sense. Still, while terpenes aren't intoxicating on their own, some think they may impact the effects of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive feeling of cannabis. Bisabolol is not psychoactive, but it does induce some relaxing effects.
The Bottom Line
As research on cannabis and its many compounds progress, we're discovering new phytochemicals that show promise for multitudes of therapeutic applications.
Alpha-bisabolol is one example of a compound with the potential to impact whole-body health, from anti-anxiety and sleep-inducing qualities to antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.
That’s why it’s so important for hemp and cannabis brands to test their products for terpene concentration. By knowing their products’ terpene profile, brands can educate consumers on which chemovars will work best for their wellness goals.