Phytol Terpenol

Phytol is a colorless diterpenol which is derived from the breakdown of chlorophyll (green pigments in leaves). Cannabis plants also contain a percentage of phytol. A big difference with most terpenes is that phytol emits very little odor. The mild scent of phytol is reminiscent of jasmine.


Phytol is the precursor to vitamin K and E

Phytol is a starting material, also referred to as a precursor, for the formation of vitamin E and K. Because there is a yellow pigment present in this diterpenol, tinctures which are being treated with heat, often have a yellow color. This occurs because the present chlorophyll is being broken down.


Phytol is obtained by hydrolysis of chlorophyll

The same effect of the degradation of chlorophyll is also well observed in grass that is being shielded from light for a certain period of time. Due to the absence of light, the color of the grass changes from green to yellow. Without light, plants are not able to produce chlorophyll.
In 1909 the German chemist Richard Willstätter observed that phytol can be obtained from chlorophyll by hydrolysis (the breakdown by water). In the year 1928, the German chemist FG Fisher documented the structure of phytol.


Used as a deterrent against predators

Studies have shown that insects such as beetles and fleas, use phytol and its metabolites (end products) including phytanic acid, to repel natural enemies. These compounds are obtained from host plants. Also, there is circumstantial evidence that several non-human primates, unlike humans, ingest large percentages phytol by means of the fermentation of plant foods.


What medicinal effects does phytol have?

Phytol works for lowering cholesterol and can be used effectively in the treatment of insomnia. Sometimes it is used in combination with the terpene linalool. In addition it is able to prevent deformities due to a high dose of vitamin A, in unborn babies.
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Used to treat insomnia (sleeplessness)
  • Increases GABA by SSADH inhibition
  • Prevents teratogenic risk of vitamin A (to prevent deformities in the development of unborn babies caused by a high dose of vitamin A)
Phytol is also used in perfumes, skin products, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, foods and detergents. Annually an average of 1 ton phytol is being produced worldwide.


Chemical data of phytol

  • The chemical molecule formula of phytol is: C20H40O
  • The molar mass: 296.54 g / mol
  • The systematic name is as follows: (2E, 7R, 11R) -3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol


Physical properties

  • Appearance: liquid
  • Color: colorless
  • Density: 0.850 g / cm³
  • Boiling point: 203-204 ° C.
  • Freely soluble in benzene, ethanol, diethyl ether and chloroform
  • Phytol does not dissolve well in water


In which plants and herbs can phytol occur?

Phytol can be found in cannabis, jasmin, olive trees, and many other plants and herbs.


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