Terpenes are a vast expanse of compounds whose true potential is just now being explored. Research is just starting to show that beyond the aromatic properties of terpenes, there are uses for them in medical, cosmetic, and therapeutic applications as well.
In part two of our terpene series, we will take a look at 5 terpenes with some lesser known terpenes very unique characteristics: Valencene, Eucalyptol, Humulene, Geraniol, and Borneol.
Let’s take a closer look and uncover some unique aspects of these terpenes you may not have known about:
Valencene is the terpene responsible for the bright, sunny, orange scent you get when a Valencia orange is peeled. Occasionally, it can give off a hint of freshly chopped wood in addition to the orange scent. It’s a popular ingredient in natural insect repellent formulations and is effective at repelling ticks and mosquitos. When used in topical creams, it can have mild anti-inflammatory traits as well, making it a versatile terpene for cosmetic application
Geraniol has a woody, earthy floral scent with an almost over-ripe sweetness. It’s commonly found in lemon and tobacco and is used by bees to mark their hives. For cosmetics, geraniol is sought after for its unique scent and is used regularly as a mosquito repellent. Medically, Geraniol gas been found to have antitumor effects and is being looked at for its anticancer capabilities.
The oils of a eucalyptus tree have a very strong scent, and the primary constituent of this oil is, in fact, eucalyptol. Eucalyptol has a very distinct, earthy, slightly sweet minty smell to it. Eucalyptol can be harmful to plants, a relationship known as allelopathy, where chemicals released by plants into the surrounding areas can alter plant growth for better or for worse. In the case of Eucalyptol, high presences can actually widen and shorten new root growth, while also creating nuclear abnormalities. On a better note, eucalyptus is showing promise as a treatment for Alzheimers disease.
This terpene is commonly found in Hops, the vining flower that contributes bitterness and a variety of other notes in Beer. On its own, Humulene is somewhat earthy, woody, and spicy, with a bitter yet sweet undertone. Hops high in Humulene are considered more aromatic and desirable, and slightly less ‘skunky’. Humulene has shown to be effective in regulating appetite stimulation and to have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Borneol has an herbal, minty scent, and plants high in this terpene include rosemary and mint. It’s primarily used in bug repellent formulas as an alternative to potentially harmful toxic repellents. An example of its natural use is rosemary – when used as a barrier against ants, the ants are much less likely to cross the rosemary barrier; potentially due to the repellent properties of Borneol. The oils can be extracted and used as a preventative spray that is safe for use on plants and around the home.
This is the end of our second list, but we’ll be posting more soon. This three-part series is just a short look of some of the more well-known terpenes; scientists are still looking at the ways this powerhouse molecule can have a positive impact on the plants we grow, and ourselves. We’ll be back with part three!