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What is Nerolidol?

Unlocking the Mysteries of Nerolidol: A Closer Look

Have you ever heard of Nerolidol? If not, you’re not alone. This lesser-known terpene is making waves in the world of plant-based medicine due to its intriguing properties and potential therapeutic benefits.


Nerolidol contributes to the woody, floral, fruity, and earthy aromas of many plants, fruits, and culinary herbs. Overall, the combination of these notes creates a smell not dissimilar to fresh tree bark.

Also found in

Many plants produce nerolidol as a secondary metabolite. It occurs in the bulbs, seeds, leaves, and aerial parts of many species. The terpene plays a protective role against predatory herbivores that would otherwise devour plants.

Possible effects

Research conducted in cell and animal models suggests nerolidol to display myriad therapeutic effects. These include anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, antitumour, antioxidant, neuroprotective, and antiulcer properties. Nerolidol appears to synergize with certain cannabinoids, enhancing their medicinal properties—a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.

Supporting research

All of the promising research regarding nerolidol is preclinical. Thorough clinical trials are required to confirm how the terpene affects humans. However, this early research offers an interesting insight into possible future therapeutic applications.

For example, research has found nerolidol to have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties. In mouse models of pain, varying doses of nerolidol were effective at reducing pain by potentially impacting the GABAergic system, a network involved in the creation and metabolism of the neurotransmitter GABA.

In addition, numerous animal studies have suggested that nerolidol might help to reduce tumour size and occurrence. One study tested the effects on mice exposed to a potent carcinogen that promotes tumour growth in the colon. Researchers observed a reduction in intestinal tumours in the mice that were fed nerolidol.

Furthermore, as an antioxidant, nerolidol might defend against oxidative stress and DNA damage. Cell studies have shown its potent antioxidant activity, protecting lipids, proteins, and DNA from oxidative damage. These antioxidant effects might produce neuroprotective properties as well.

Lastly, nerolidol might play a role in the future treatment of gastric ulcers. A study found the terpene to produce a significant reduction in stress-induced ulcers in mice, as well as inhibited ulcers caused by ethanol and NSAIDs.

Overall, nerolidol’s potential as a therapeutic agent is promising, but further research is needed to fully understand its effects. The future of this intriguing terpene holds great promise for the field of plant-based medicine.


[1] Chan, W. K., Tan, L., Chan, K. G., Lee, L. H., & Goh, B. H. (2016). Nerolidol: A Sesquiterpene Alcohol with Multi-Faceted Pharmacological and Biological Activities. Molecules, 21(5), 529. [Source]

[2] Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. [Source]

[3] Harvard Health Publishing. (2020). Understanding acute and chronic inflammation. [Source]

[4] Fonsêca, D. V., Salgado, P. R. R., de Carvalho, F. L., Salvadori, M. G. S. S., Penha, A. R. S., Leite, F. C., Borges, C. J. S., Piuvezam, M. R., Pordeus, L. C. D. M., Sousa, D. P., & Almeida, R. N. (2015). Nerolidol exhibits antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity: involvement of the GABAergic system and proinflammatory cytokines. Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology, 30(1), 14–22. [Source]

[5] Wattenberg, L. W. (1991). Inhibition of azoxymethane-induced neoplasia of the large bowel by 3-hydroxy-3,7,11-trimethyl-l,6,10-dodecatriene (nerolidol). Carcinogenesis, 12(1), 151–152. [Source]

[6] Costa, E., Menezes, L., Rocha, S., Baliza, I., Dias, R., Rocha, C., Soares, M., & Bezerra, D. (2015). Antitumor Properties of the Leaf Essential Oil of Zornia brasiliensis. Planta Medica, 81(07), 563–567. [Source]

[7] Nogueira Neto, J. D., Cardoso De Almeida, A. A., & da Silva Oliveira, J. (2013). Antioxidant Effects of Nerolidol in Mice Hippocampus After Open Field Test. Springer Link. [Source]

[8] Klopell, F. C., Lemos, M., Sousa, J. P. B., Comunello, E., Maistro, E. L., Bastos, J. K., & Andrade, S. F. D. (2007). Nerolidol, an Antiulcer Constituent from the Essential Oil of Baccharis dracunculifolia DC (Asteraceae). Zeitschrift Für Naturforschung C, 62(7–8), 537–542. [Source]