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Cannabis Terpenes and Their Therapeutic Potential

What are cannabis terpenes and what therapeutic potential do they possess? We look at the most abundant terpenes in cannabis and explore how they can help.
April 7, 2022
Company News

Cannabis Terpenes and Their Therapeutic Potential

Like cannabinoids, cannabis terpenes (aromatic compounds found in all plants) play a key role in producing the varying effects different cannabis chemovars are known for. What’s more, these effects can be harnessed and utilised in cannabinoid formulations (like the ones we make here at True North Labs) to create a CBD oil product that targets a specific need.

 

Although it’s often cannabinoids in the limelight, it’s well known among the scientific community that terpenes in cannabis hold immense potential. Researchers Judith Jorg Booth and Bohlmann even described terpenes and terpene/cannabinoid-rich resin as ‘the most valuable cannabis products’, due to the wide variety of different psychoactive and medicinal properties. They are also believed to contribute to ‘the entourage effect’, most notably in the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Cannabis Terpenes

Following on from our previous article, introducing you to terpenes in general, we are delighted to present some of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis, and their unique therapeutic properties.

Myrcene

Known as the sleepy cannabis terpene, this is the one to look for if you’re after a product that will aid with sleep. Its fruity, earthy and musky profile can be found in mango, valerian, lavender, lemon grass, hops and many other plants besides, as well as cannabis. In fact, myrcene is usually one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis, and can account for up to 65% of terpene content in some cultivars.

Research has revealed that ‘the synergistic relationship between myrcene and the cannabinoids within the cannabis plant is one of crucial significance’, with studies showing that, on top of being a potent sedative, myrcene also boasts motor relaxant, pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, anti-catabolic and pro-anabolic properties.

Limonene

In stark contrast, Limonene (which, as you might guess from the name, has a zesty scent that contributes to the smell of citrus fruits)offers anti-depressant qualities resulting in an uplifting sensation, that would lend itself to a day time blend CBD oil.

 

Consuming this cannabis terpene can leave you feeling calm and happy and has even been shown in a variety of studies to be a powerful anti-convulsant. As an additional perk, it also aids the absorption of other molecules (like cannabinoids or other terpenes). This applies both internally and externally, making this a fantastic addition to topical and cosmetic cannabinoid products. One study showed that nano emulsion with 3% limonene produced similar and comparable skin permeation of a drug with a marketed formulation.

Limonene is also commonly used in cleaning products, not just for it’s fresh scent but also for its potent anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effects.

Pinene

Head to the kitchen and you’ll find it in basil, orange peel and rosemary. Take yourself out for a woodland walk and take a deep breath –that beautiful scent (and the immense wellbeing benefits of ‘forest bathing’ or ‘shinrin yoku’) is largely down to pinene, the most common terpene in the plant kingdom. It’s also found in high levels in almost all cannabis chemovars.

The extraction of oils from plants for medicinal use has been conducted throughout human history and numerous plants high in pinene have been used for a variety of conditions, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, seizures, inflammation, pain, snake bite, colds and fevers, hypertension, rheumatism, cancer, fungal infection, anxiety, and depression among others. A pinene-heavy infusion, using juniper berries, was another common traditional medicine used to treat congestion.

Modern day scientific discoveries now back up this widespread use, with studies revealing that pinene can act as a bronchodilator (increasing airflow to the lungs) and expectorant, an anticoagulant, antitumor, antimicrobial, antimalarial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-Leishmania, and analgesic.

The extraction of oils from plants for medicinal use has been conducted throughout human history and numerous plants high in pinene have been used for a variety of conditions, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, seizures, inflammation, pain, snake bite, colds and fevers, hypertension, rheumatism, cancer, fungal infection, anxiety, and depression among others. A pinene-heavy infusion, using juniper berries, was another common traditional medicine used to treat congestion.

Modern day scientific discoveries now back up this widespread use, with studies revealing that pinene can act as a bronchodilator (increasing airflow to the lungs) and expectorant, an anticoagulant, antitumor, antimicrobial, antimalarial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-Leishmania, and analgesic.

It’s even been shown to possess antibiotic resistance modulation qualities, which could be vitally important for the future of medicine.

Humulene (α-caryophyllene)

Although present in lower levels than the likes of Pinene and Myrcene, Humulene (previously known as α-caryophyllene) brings a lot to the table. In terms of scent and flavour, it has a distinct woody, earthy aroma that you might associate with ginseng, sage or hops, where it can also be found.

Again, this terpene has been well researched and many remarkable properties have been discovered. It’s ability to assist in the termination of cancer cells might be one of the most exciting, as are the anti-inflammatory properties, which have been found to be equal to equal to dexamethasone - a glucocorticoid medication used to treat a wide range of problems. This anti-inflammatory potential also extends to topical application, make Humulene a fantastic addition to CBD oil cosmetics.

There’s also evidence to suggest that Humulene works in synergy with another cannabis terpene, β-caryophyllene, improving the effects of both when used together.

Keep an eye out for our next terpene article, where we’ll delve into the properties of β-caryophyllene and more incredible cannabis terpenes!