A growing number of physicians and patients are finally singing the praises of cannabinoids, but they are still overlooking the medicinal value of another cannabis compound.
Secreted in the same resin glands of the cannabis plant as THC, CBD and other cannabinoids, terpenes are the pungent oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their distinctive scents and flavours, including citrus, berry, mint, and pine. More than a hundred different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant.
As with other strong-smelling plants and flowers, the cannabis plant developed terpenes for adaptive purposes such as repelling predators (pests and herbivores), attracting pollinators and protecting itself from infection and UV rays.
Terpenes from lavender and other plants have been used in aromatherapy for decades. More recently, however, researchers have discovered that these molecules, which bind to the body’s receptors in the same way cannabinoids do, can improve the overall medicinal effects of cannabis.
Cannabinoids and terpenes each have medicinal value on their own and, when the compounds are combined, they can pack a powerful therapeutic punch. This is called the entourage effect.
Researchers are making progress in combining various cannabinoids and terpenes to treat many conditions, ranging from acne (CBD with limonene, linalool and pinene) to social anxiety disorders (CBD with limonene and linalool).
Research has revealed that terpenes also determine how much THC passes through the blood-brain barrier. This means terpenes could be used to inhibit the psychoactive effects of THC and effectively increase its therapeutic value as a treatment for pain, inflammation, depression, epilepsy, anxiety and other conditions.
Terpenes can also influence neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting dopamine and serotonin production and destruction.
Here is an overview of four of the most common terpenes:
Myrcene is the most common terpene in marijuana strains. It smells very similar to cloves and is found in high levels in strains such as Pure Kush and White Widow. It is thought to combat muscle aches, pain, insomnia and depression. This terpene can also be found in mango.
Linalool, which has a floral smell, is found in high quantities in G13 and LA Confidential. It is used to treat anxiety, seizure disorders, acne and depression. This terpene, which has also been used as a sleep aid, can also be found in lavender.
Caryophyllen smells like pepper, cloves and wood. It’s used to treat arthritis, ulcers, autoimmune disorders and various gastrointestinal issues. It can be found in high quantities in Hash Plant as well as in black pepper.
Limonene has a citrus scent and is thought to be an effective treatment for inflammation, bacterial infections and depression. It’s found in OG Kush and Super Lemon Haze as well as in fruit rinds and peppermint.
Terpene research is still in its infancy and further study is needed to determine exactly how various terpenes can be used, on their own or in combination with cannabinoids, to treat specific ailments. But results have been promising so far and there’s enthusiasm about this new frontier for cannabis.
- CBD Offers Relief for Patients with Depression and Anxiety - June 26, 2018
- Q and A: Darrin Massey is a master at making dry sift and changing lives - May 8, 2018
- Terpenes Hold Great Therapeutic Promise - November 21, 2017
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