The list of proven benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) is ever-increasing, from pain-relieving applications to mental health struggles. In addition to cannabidiol, all CBD products (except isolate) contain terpenes. These compounds are considered a critical element in boosting CBD’s overall effect. But do cannabis derived terpenes have any use on their own? How do they work in tandem with CBD and THC to promote wellness?
What is a Terpene?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found not only in cannabis, but in many other species of plants, fruits, and even some insects. Essential oils are composed primarily of terpenes, which gives them their potent aroma. The ones present in cannabis are responsible for the distinctive flavors and scents associated with different strains.
The function of terpenes in plants and animals is not thoroughly understood. However, evidence suggests that certain properties may contribute to disease and pest prevention. Certain terpenes may also play a role in cellular development and UV protection.
Mental Health Benefits of Cannabis Derived Terpenes
The hemp plant has over 400 known terpenes. Full and broad spectrum CBD products leave these terpenes in, as research suggests they work together with CBD and the trace amounts of THC to enhance their effect. This is what is known as the “entourage effect.”
When it comes to mental health, most professionals will recommend a combination of THC and CBD. However, many cannabis-derived terpenes on their own are showing promising results in treating certain disorders:
Limonene is another cannabis-derived terpene that is also present in the peel of citrus fruits. It is recognizable by its fruity and slightly bitter aroma. Research has demonstrated strong antidepressant properties in mice who inhaled sweet orange essential oil–an oil whose most abundant terpene happens to be limonene.
With a musky, earthy aroma, myrcene is another of the cannabis derived terpenes. Strains that have high levels of myrcene are more likely to induce a sedative effect, which can help individuals with insomnia, anxiety, and other mental health issues. An interesting study also found that essential oil of summer savory (a myrcene-containing herb) reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in the elderly.
As the name suggests, this terpene is also found in pine trees and has a distinct, resin-y scent. Alpha-pinene has been studied as an alternative to benzodiazepines in patients with severe anxiety. Current research also supports its use as a sleep aid: rats administered alpha-pinene had enhanced non-REM sleep cycles and decreased sleep latency to a degree comparable with prescribed zolpidem (a.k.a. Ambien).
Recognized for its floral aroma, linalool is most commonly associated with lavender essential oil. However, it is also present in appreciable quantities in cannabis. Anecdotally, linalool has been used for centuries to promote relaxation. Clinically, ongoing research suggests that linalool may have a calming influence on the nervous system by inhibiting voltage gated calcium channels and increasing parasympathetic tone.
Caryophyllene is unique among terpenes as it can also interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Specifically, it acts on the CB2 receptor in the brain to exert an analgesic effect. This makes it a promising alternative to treatments for patients with chronic pain.
Medical Marijuana and CBD in Destin, Florida
While research on cannabis derived terpenes and their impact on mental health is still in its early stages, the preliminary findings are promising. As the stigma surrounding cannabis continues to diminish, more studies are likely to delve deeper into the therapeutic potential of these compounds.
In the meantime, there is abundant research supporting the use of THC and CBD for physiological and psychiatric conditions. At the Crane Center, our counselors are qualified to recommend medical marijuana and CBD among our other strategies for treating mental health disorders. If you are struggling with anxiety, PTSD, depression, or another related illness, please call our office or go online to schedule an appointment.