Terpene Tuesdays: Everything You Need To Know About Borneol Flavor, Fragrance, And Benefits

Terpene Tuesdays: Everything You Need To Know About Borneol Flavor, Fragrance, And Benefits

In this guide:

Virtually all plants contain terpenes, and cannabis is no exception. Borneol is a botanical and cannabis-based terpene with a woody, minty scent and several intriguing medical uses.

Borneol has been a staple in Asian traditional medicine for thousands of years. Today, modern research shows borneol is an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. It appears in the cosmetics industry and in essential oils as a natural insect repellent. Borneol also helps improve circulation and might increase the effectiveness of other drugs.

ginger contains borneol terpene


Terpenes appear in all plants. Also known as “essential oils,” these compounds are responsible for every plant’s unique scent, taste, and color. They also help plants attract pollinators like bees while keeping away predators. In cannabis, terpenes also contribute to each strain’s sensory experience and therapeutic benefits.

Cannabis contains over 200 different terpenes that appear in different concentration levels. Varying terpene levels across cultivars explain why the cannabis experience differs from strain to strain. Strains containing higher borneol content have an “herbal minty” scent, emitting an aroma of camphor, earth, and menthol.

Borneol also influences the plant’s medicinal qualities. Chinese herbalists used this bitter-tasting terpene to treat bronchitis, coughs, and colds while recognizing its stress-relieving qualities. Borneol’s many health functions include:

  • Improves digestion by stimulating gastric juices
  • Helps blood circulation
  • Treats bronchial symptoms to improve lung function and ease breathing
  • Assists in healing wounds and has been incorporated into many topical treatments, such as for treating hemorrhoids
  • Reduces anxiety

Borneol oil bears a fresh and powerful fragrance. It is a natural insect repellent shielding against illnesses like the West Nile virus. While its scent is toxic for bugs, it affects humans differently. Many compare borneol’s sensory experience to walking through balsam fir trees. This effect makes it a common ingredient in many fragrances, colognes, and essential oils.


Cannabis researchers theorize that the plant’s full spectrum of healing compounds work better together than as isolated extracts. Called the entourage effect, the theory says that every compound in cannabis, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, enhances the plant’s overall therapeutic benefits and creates every strain’s unique psychoactive profile.

Borneol, like other terpenes, combines with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to heighten the cannabis experience. Borneol helps to amplify the blood-brain barrier’s permeability, allowing THC more easily bind with specialized receptors in the brain and central nervous system.


Multiple studies demonstrate borneol’s wide-ranging medicinal benefits, including its prominent role as an anti-inflammatory, respiratory assistant, and cancer killer.

  • Lung health: A 2017 study entitled “Terpenes from Forests and Human Health,” published in the Toxicological Research journal, investigated how borneol reduced lung inflammation. The researchers found that borneol reduced inflammatory infiltration, histopathological changes, and cytokine production.
  • Cancer fighter: A 2013 study revealed borneol’s anti-cancer properties, concluding that borneol effectively synergized with an amino acid to reduce cancer cell growth and trigger apoptotic cell death.
  • Stroke deterrent: A 2021 study confirmed borneol’s effectiveness in preventing and treating nerve injury in ischemic stroke. It improved cerebral blood flow, inhibited neuronal excitotoxicity, blocked Ca2+ overload, and provided resistance to “reactive oxygen species injury in the acute ischemic stage.”
  • Heart health: Another recent study investigated borneol’s effects in treating cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, concluding that borneol can “protect the cardio-cerebrovascular system through its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-thrombotic, and anticoagulant properties and by reducing cell apoptosis.”


No. Isolated terpenes like borneol will not create mind-altering effects. But terpenes are a crucial part of the entourage effect, and their presence can directly affect the type of psychoactive experience a person has. For instance, strains higher in borneol tend to be higher in THC, the main component in cannabis that produces its psychoactive effects. Additionally, borneol can possibly make cannabis effects more intense because it helps with blood circulation and affects the blood-brain barrier.

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Borneol is one of many terpenes found in cannabis, and it naturally occurs in many other plants and flowers.

  • Borneol is common in ginger, camphor, thyme, and rosemary.
  • Sunflowers, artemisia, and several more obscure subtropical and Asian native plants contain borneol.
  • Borneol derives from dryobalanops aromatica, a member of the teak family of trees. Tapping the tree’s trunk was the traditional way to harvest the borneol terpene.
  • Today, most borneol comes synthetically from turpentine oil or camphor, which manufacturers grind into powder form for medicinal use.


Borneol is a secondary or minor terpene in the cannabis plant that occurs in smaller amounts. In isolation, borneol can reduce stress and fight fatigue, leaving people relaxed yet not sedated. Many hybrid strains have higher concentrations of borneol, including:

  • OG Kush: This hybrid strain is indica-dominant (75% indica, 25% Sativa) with a spicy scent. It is high in THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, giving users a potent high.
  • Golden Haze: Borneol gives this sativa-dominant hybrid its complex flavor, with notes of dried spices, herbs, and floral blossoms. This strain is also high in THC and is popular for treating depression, chronic pain, stress, and anxiety. Many describe the high as “euphoric and energizing.”
  • K-13 Haze: Another sativa-dominant strain, K-13 has a spicy citrus flavor and high THC content, with a moderate to high psychedelic effect.
  • Amnesia Haze: Another sativa-dominant, citrus-tasting cannabis strain, Amnesia Haze has more earthy undertones. Individuals often report an energetic, euphoric onset followed by generally happy, uplifting, and relaxing effects.
  • Easy Haze: A sativa-dominant strain with a metallic citrus taste, this strain is also high in THC. It’s often used recreationally for its psychoactive effects.


Borneol is widespread in treating various ailments associated with the liver, spleen, heart, and lungs. Below is a list of some of the many borneol benefits.

  • Anti-inflammatory benefits: Borneol can block certain ion channels that promote pain stimulus and inflammation.  It also aids in pain relief from inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. A study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed borneol reduced inflammation in gingivitis models, proving it could be effective in mouthwash to ease red gums or tonsillitis.
  • Blood-circulation benefits: Borneol relaxes blood vessels, which helps reduce blood pressure and cerebral vascular resistance and can improve cerebral blood flow.
  • Topical pain reliever: Borneol has analgesic qualities, which acupuncturists have known for centuries. A study testing pain relief found that topical borneol reduced pain considerably compared to a placebo control group. A rodent-based study revealed a significant decrease in pain from physical injury.
  • Heart health: Eastern medicine hails borneol as a treatment for cardiovascular disease, and its anticoagulant qualities could potentially treat thrombosis and blood clots.
  • Respiratory health: Chinese medicine traditionally used Borneol to treat bronchitis and similar ailments. Borneol reduces lung inflammation by reducing inflammatory cytokines and inflammatory infiltration.
  • Anticancer properties: Borneol increases the action of Selenocysteine (SeC), which reduces cancer through apoptotic (programmed) cancer cell death. It also increases efficiency in antitumor drug targeting by helping the body absorb medicines better, including ones that treat cancer.
  • Neuroprotective effects: Due to its permeability of the blood-brain barrier, borneol offers some protection from neuronal cell death during ischemic stroke and can help regenerate and repair brain tissue.
  • Fights stress and fatigue: Users of cannabis strains with higher borneol levels report it reduces their stress levels and tiredness without causing intense sedation.


Borneol is abundant in nature and cannabis. Its minty, earthy scent is pleasant and popular to add to fragrances while repelling mosquitoes and other insects. It has a long list of therapeutic abilities, notably as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, and it can help with brain, heart, lung, and cancer treatments. Customers looking for borneol-containing strains should check for a COA from a qualified laboratory that includes a full terpene profile analysis.

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