Scientists Discover Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Terpenes
Terpenes have been getting attention from the media and medical community as of late.
These compounds of cannabis are aromatic organic compounds that give plants its unique odor. Herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, and many other plants and flowers in the natural kingdom have their own terpenes and terpenoids.
In cannabis, some 200 terpenes have already been identified. Each cannabis strain has its own terpene profile, but we are only discovering now the benefits of these humble little compounds. Not only do they contribute to a delightful medicating experience thanks to their aroma and taste, but they were also developed by cannabis plants through many years of evolution because terpenes act as protection against animal grazers, insects, and in some cases, fungus.
More importantly, terpenes have valuable medicinal properties.
A brand-new study, conducted by researchers in Israel and published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, reveals that there’s more reason to care about terpenes other than its fragrance. The researchers discovered that not only are CBD and THC beneficial in fighting and preventing inflammation, but terpenes play an important role too.
For the study, the researchers extracted terpene-rich oils from 3 strains of cannabis. These were then tested on animal cells. In the first experiment, they found that terpenes were effective in inhibiting the production of free radicals that are linked to inflammation. In the second experiment, the mice’ biological activity demonstrated “moderate anti-inflammatory activities.”
What’s interesting is that researchers observed the mechanisms in which terpenes fight inflammation are different from those of cannabinoids. “Different chemotypes of cannabis have a distinctive composition of terpenoids,” write the researchers. “These essential oils do have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities that vary according to their composition, but they had no effect on TNFa titers [antibodies].”
“We suggest that terpenoids may be used to diminicute acute inflammation effect, whereas the cannabinoids to inhibit chronic inflammation symptoms,” they conclude. In other words, as they noticed that CBD works better in mitigating inflammation for longer periods of time, CBD is a better choice for individuals with chronic inflammation, while terpenes work well for cases of acute inflammation.
Why Should You Care About Terpenes?
Our understanding of terpenes and its medicinal benefits is still in its infancy. But the data that we have so far gives us good reason to care about the terpene profile of your favorite strain.
In 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo released a report in the British Journal of Pharmacology which delved deep into the wide array of terpenes’ medicinal attributes. Dr. Russo’s study, one of the most well-known in the world of terpenes, says that CBD-only products are greatly lacking in these valuable compounds. In other words, if you want to maximize the entourage effect of cannabis, you should be paying attention to terpenes.
For one, beta-caryophyllene, is a type of terpene (sesquiterpene) that is abundant in essential oils of oregano, black pepper, and several other herbs. It can also be found in some cannabis strains. Beta-caryophyllene has been shown to demonstrate therapeutic benefits particularly for the stomach, auto-immune disorders, and inflammatory conditions since it works by binding to the CBD2 cannabinoid receptor. In 2008, Jurg Gertsch, a Swiss scientist, referred to beta-caryophyllene as a dietary cannabinoid because of its affinity for binding to the CB2 receptor. In fact, beta-caryophyllene is the only terpenoid that is known to directly activate receptors.
Cannabinoids and terpenes work together in mitigating respiratory pathogens, killing bacteria, enhancing cortical activity, and improving blood flow. According to Dr. Russo’s report, the synergistic effects of cannabinoids and terpenes “could produce synergy with respect to treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections.”
Cannabis strains have a unique terpenoid profile, so choose wisely when shopping for your next strain to smoke. Think of it as a cannabis “fingerprint”. For this reason, it’s ideal for you to purchase lab-tested cannabis if you want to take advantage of the health benefits that terpenes offer. Gone are the days when people solely chose cannabis for its THC or CBD content; when armed with knowledge of terpenes, you can enjoy significantly more relief from your aches and pains while reducing the risk for inflammation and disease.