Alpha-bisabolol is an aromatic terpene, coveted for its pleasant and mildly sweet floral scent which is mostly associated with German chamomile and even some perfumes.However, that’s likely to change as a growing body of research keeps discovering new properties of alpha-bisabolol which have much more tangible and sweeping applications than a nice smell.
Of course, the first thought that comes up when a cannabis compound is mentioned in the context of medicine is cancer. Indeed, alpha-bisabolol has demonstrated some promise – different studies over the last decade have found the terpene useful in the fight against pancreatic cancer and leukemia.1,2
Painkilling and Antibiotic Effects
First, a study from 2009 found alpha-bisabolol to have noticeable painkilling and antibiotic effects.3However, the more interesting discovery came last year when scientists witnessed that besides its straightforward antibiotic properties, the terpene can actually synergize with other antibiotics, helping them fight bacteria like E.coli and S. aureus.4
Since alpha-bisabolol is often used as a soothing supplement in many cosmetic products, a study from 2011 sought to understand the mechanism behind the terpene’s anti-inflammatory properties.5
“Alpha-bisabolol exerts anti-inflammatory effects by downregulating expression of iNOS and COX-2 genes through inhibition of NF-κB and AP-1 (ERK and p38) signaling,” the scientists explain.
This is a major finding since inflammation plays a central part in many diseases and the discomfort they cause.
Besides its powerful medicinal effects and promising properties, alpha-bisabolol is also considered a relaxant, which can contribute to overall well-being, especially for those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
It’s worth mentioning that the terpene is a secondary cannabis terpene, not a primary terpene like alpha-pinene, myrcene, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, or linalool which play a bigger part in a cultivar’s smell and effects. This means the mere presence of alpha-bisabolol in a cultivar doesn’t grant palpable anxiety relief, for example. Nevertheless, further research could demonstrate which cannabis compoundsalpha-bisabolol forms the strongest “entourage effect” with and the combinations, and concentrations in which this terpene can be most useful.
- Uno M et al, α-Bisabolol Inhibits Invasiveness and Motility in Pancreatic Cancer Through KISS1R Activation, Anticancer Res.2016 Feb;36(2):583-9.
- Bonifacio et al, α-bisabolol Is an Effective Proapoptotic Agent against BCR-ABL+ Cells in Synergism with Imatinib and Nilotinib, Plos,October 3, 2012, org/10.1371/journal.pone.0046674
- Kamatou, Viljoen, A Review of the Application and Pharmacological Properties of α‐Bisabolol and α‐Bisabolol‐Rich Oils, Wiley Online Library, 29 October 2009,org/10.1007/s11746-009-1483-3
- Oliveira et al, Evaluation of the antibacterial and modulatory potential of α-bisabolol, β-cyclodextrin and α-bisabolol/β-cyclodextrin complex, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, August 2017, 92:1111-1118
- Kim S et al, Inhibitory effects of (-)-α-bisabolol on LPS-induced inflammatory response in RAW264.7 macrophages, Food ChemToxicol, 2011 Oct;49(10):2580-5, doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2011.06.076