We’ve talked a lot about terpenes in many of our previous posts on Echo, and today we’re going to introduce you to another one—Borneol.
Borneol is found in mint, rosemary, sage, ginger, mugwort, and several other plants, but is also one of the more than 100 terpenes present in cannabis. In its oxidized form, you may recognize it as camphor, a common ingredient in skincare products, ointments, and salves. Used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for centuries, it is purported to have several benefits.
A 2013 animal study suggests that this terpene may possess analgesic (pain-relieving) properties without the loss of fine motor coordination. It also may act as an anti-inflammatory, a common trait shared among many other cannabis terpenes.
It could also be a powerful topical numbing agent, with one study reporting that it may be more effective than lidocaine. It is commonly used in Asian countries to help treat and prevent heart disease, and researchers have found that its effectiveness may be due to its anticoagulant properties.
Also called Moxa, Borneol has a cooling sensation (similar to mentholated topicals) and a pleasant minty, earthy scent. Before using Borneol, however, you should talk with a doctor or natural health practitioner. Although the amount of Borneol in cannabis is unlikely to cause any problems, in high concentrations, it can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.
A little known fact about Borneol is that the Cinnamonum tree contains large amounts of the compound. During the US Civil War, the demand for camphor to treat the wounds and pain of soldiers was so high that the US contracted the whole supply of this terpene from Taiwan. Officials even considered purchasing the island nation to monopolize the supply better.
by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon