Essential oils are all the rage right now in the natural health world. They are touted as having many, many health benefits. However, being the skeptic I am, I decided to dive into essential oil chemistry a bit and see if there was any merit to these claims. As it turns out, some are probably true, and some are not. In order to decide which essential oil claims are worth investigating, one must understand what the actual chemical constituents of each essential oil brings to the table.
Sound fun? Don’t worry. Being a former Medical Laboratory Scientist and self-proclaimed nerd, I’ve done some work for you in investigating essential oil chemistry, studies surrounding these chemical constituents, and which essential oils contain them. We will start our journey with linalool.
Linalool is a chemical constituent of many essential oils. It is in a class of molecules deemed monoterpene alcohols. The scent of linalool has been described as lightly flora, citrus-like, and woodsy (6). While it is found in massive quantities all throughout nature, it can be produced synthetically and is used in many perfumes and additives. In fact, synthetic linalool is found in 60-90% of cosmetics (2). Some traditional, therapeutic claims of linalool include anti-anxiety, sedative, and anti-inflammatory effects.
In a study investigating the anti-anxiety effects, rats that were injected with linalool showed a significant decrease in muscular activity when compared with rats that were not (4). There were differing ideas on what caused this effect.
- It is possible that linalool interacts with molecules at the site in the body where the muscles talk to the nervous system (4).
- It was also suggested that linalool blocks excitable activity in the brain (4).
Although this study did not prove anti-anxiety effects, it did show promising results in regards to sedation and relaxing the muscles.
These findings were confirmed in another study where inhaled linalool produced a similar sedative effects in rat (3). In addition, inhaled linalool has been to shown to decrease aggression and improve social behavior in rats, which supports the anti-anxiety claim. (1).
In a study investigating anti-inflammatory properties, linalool was shown to reduce swelling and sensitivity in inflamed paws of mice (5). These anti-inflammatory properties were again seen in a study where linalool was injected into the abdomen of rats with swollen paws, and a decrease in swelling was observed. (5).
Linalool may also help with pain by interfering with nitric oxide, a molecule involved in the sensation of pain (6). This suggests linalool may possess a pain-relieving effect.
How to Use
So, the research agrees that essential oils containing linalool are excellent for relaxation and calming, both mentally and physically.
In my opinion, the best way to receive these benefits is through inhalation! Essential oil diffusers and aromatherapy inhalers are excellent tools for this purpose. I use these in my home and recommend them. Using linalool rich essential oils during relaxation, bath time, nighttime rituals, meditation, high anxiety situations, and stressful times can be extraordinarily beneficial.
Another great practice is essential oil massage, either self-massage or with a partner. One of the essential oils containing linalool can be added to a blend to create a wonderful, calming massage oil.
As with any essential oil, educate yourself. Do your research on the company you have chosen; call them and ask questions, research their farms, distillation processes, GC/MS reports, organic practices, and other data. Essential oils are powerful and must be treated as such. Please, keep them in a locked cabinet far away from children. Want to know what essential oils I use? Contact me! I’d love to chat about it.
Which Oils to Use?
Now for the fun part. What essential oils is linalool found in?
Linalool makes up more than 10% of the molecules in 54 essential oils
- Lavender essential oil is the most well known, and it is comprised of 25% to 45% linalool (7).
- Rosalina, one of my favorite essential oils, is known as “lavender tea tree” because it comes from the Tea Tree genus Melaleucea. It has a high percentage of linalool at 35%-55% (7).
- Thyme (chemotype linalool) essential oil is an excellent choice to add to immune supporting blends. It is powerful yet gentle enough for children as well as calming due to the linalool percentage of 73%-79% (7).
- Rosewood essential oil is very high in natural linalool at 82%-90% (7).
- Linalool also shows up in large amounts in Ho wood, Ho leaf (chemotype linalool), Coriander seed, Neroli, Basil (chemotype linalool), and Spike Lavender essential oils (7).
Linalool has been well documented to possess a sedative effect, however the dosage and point of administration is a factor. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects are promising as well. Linalool is an exceptionally useful molecule, is highly sought after and reproduced, and is found across the spectrum of nature. It is no doubt a gift given by God to us through the natural world to enhance our lives and help our bodies.
Add linalool containing essential oils to your repertoire to support the mind, body, and spirit.
Like this? Read more essential oil chemistry in my posts on Eucalyptol and Bisalobol in German chamomile!
- (1) Effects of inhaled Linalool in anxiety, social interaction and aggressive behavior in mice.
- (2) Linalool: a review on a key odorant molecule with valuable biological properties
- (3) Inhaled linalool-induced sedation in mice.
- (4) Investigation of the anxiolytic effects of linalool, a lavender extract, in the male Sprague-Dawley rat.
- (5) A review on anti-inflammatory activity of monoterpenes.
- (6) Linalool
- (7) Essential Oil Safety: 2nd Edition