1. Science / Technology

Compounds with higher 1-octanol/water coefficient are more easily absorbed by human cells

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Octanol is an alcohol with 8 carbon atoms and 1 hydroxyl group, and its molecular formula is C8H18O. Octanol is often used in research and industrial chemistry as perfume and flavor additive of food and beverage. Octanol is also an industrial solvent, surfactant, foam control agent and biodiesel additive.

Cannabis contains many terpenes with effective anti-inflammatory properties, and octanol is one of them. These terpenes can increase the therapeutic potential of cannabis, especially octanol, which can increase the bioavailability (absorption rate and circulation) of tetrahydrocannabinol in the body.

What is the effect of octanol?

Octanol is a naturally occurring fatty alcohol found in many plants, including mint, lavender, marijuana, hops, tea, oats, and ginger. The most common isomers are 1-octanol, 2-octanol, and 3-octanol. Because of its strong smell, octanol is often used as an additive in perfume, adding the flavor of “sweet”, “wood”, “herbal” and “earth”. It is also added to food to increase fat and mushroom flavor.

Fatty alcohols are long and straight hydrocarbon chains with one end being a single alcohol. This forms a polar structure at one end and a non polar structure at the other end, similar to fatty acids. 1-octanol, also known as octanol or n-octanol, is very similar to the fatty acids found in the human body. This leads to the use of 1-octanol as a model chemical for testing the solubility of compounds in the human body, known as the partition coefficient.

Compounds with higher 1-octanol/water coefficient are more easily absorbed by human cells. In contrast, compounds with lower 1-octanol/water coefficients may struggle to achieve the expected goals.

1-octanol is highly similar to human cell membrane, making it particularly soluble in the lipid bilayer of cell membrane. Adding 1-octanol to the cell membrane can alter its permeability, making it easier for other chemicals to enter the cell. This makes other drugs, such as nicotine, more effective when combined with n-octanol.

This increase in membrane permeability may explain why 1-octanol has been shown to enhance the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects of α – pinene and linalool, known as the accompanying effect. These three chemicals are all present in cannabis, so they may to some extent alleviate the pain and inflammation caused by smoking cannabis products.

Due to the increased absorption of most chemicals by 1-octanol, it can be assumed that the naturally occurring 1-octanol in cannabis is beneficial. However, detecting the presence of 1-octanol using gas chromatography is challenging as 1-octanol is often used as a solvent in this process.

This leads to a lack of information on whether 1-octanol exists in all cannabis varieties, and if so, what its concentration is. Although 1-octanol and 3-octanol have been detected in at least one cannabis variety, currently, no cannabis variety is sold as containing octanol.

Effect of octanol

It smells very sweet, with a smell of soil and wood
Tastes like mushrooms
Increase cell permeability and drug uptake


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