You might know that cannabis and hemp products are potentially able to help get rid of inflammation and pain. That said, most people assume that this is just because of the cannabinoids, or in other words, the THC and CBD, along with others. However, although THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, all have potential anti-inflammatory properties, they aren't the only substances contained in cannabis and hemp that can do this. What we are talking about here are terpenes. Yes, terpenes, the substance that gives weed its flavor and aroma, are also responsible for potentially providing a variety of health benefits, both for the body and mind. If you don't know what terpenes are, no worries, because we'll explain this directly below. We'll then talk about the various potential health benefits of terpenes, how they fare at treating inflammation, and what some of the best anti-inflammatory terpenes out there are.
- Terpenes are the substances found in plants that give them their flavors and aromas.
- Terpenes are not only there for aroma and flavors but also have a variety of potential medical and therapeutic benefits.
- Besides being anti-inflammatory, terpenes may also be analgesic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-allergy, and they may help you sleep, reduce anxiety, and so much more.
What Are Terpenes in Cannabis?Terpenes are a specific type of natural compound that are found in most plants, herbs, and more. Even some animals create or release terpenes. Yes, cannabis contains terpenes. To put it in simpler terms, terpenes are like the essential oils produced by plants. They are what are responsible for the aroma and flavor of the plants. Every strain of cannabis has slightly different terpenes, which is why every strain has a different smell and flavor. Virtually all of the plants and fruits that you are familiar with contain these terpenes. In the natural world, terpenes also offer plants protection from predators. As far as humans are concerned, however, there are a variety of potential health benefits that terpenes may have for us.
What Are the Health Benefits of Terpenes?The terpenes found in cannabis plants and other plants on this planet have a wide variety of potential benefits, so let's take a quick look at what exactly these might be.
Sleep AidOne of the biggest purported benefits of terpenes is that they may act as sleep aids. Various terpenes, such as myrcene, linalool, terpinolene, and caryophyllene may all help you get a good night's sleep. Most of these terpenes, in one way or another, have a sedating effect. They may also increase the levels of adenosine in your blood and brain, which may make you a little bit drowsy. Many terpenes are ideal for combating insomnia.
Anti-InflammatoriesAnother one of the biggest benefits of terpenes is that many of them are anti-inflammatory in nature. Terpenes such as myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, linalool, and ocimene, as well as humulene, may all be able to help alleviate inflammation in the human body. Exactly how these terpenes eliminate inflammation from your body somewhat varies from one to another, although the result is more or less the same across the board. Some terpenes can take care of acute inflammation (which is onset inflammation), usually caused by something like an injury. There is then also chronic inflammation, which is long-term inflammation that can last for years. The bottom line is that many terpenes can decrease inflammatory markers in the body. For instance, some of these terpenes decrease nitrous oxide in the blood which is produced by inflammatory cells. In essence, your immune system produces inflammatory substances as a response to various pathogens, invaders, and other issues. Terpenes may be able to help stop your immune system from creating these inflammatory substances, therefore preventing or relieving inflammation.
Pain ReductionOne of the biggest benefits that some terpenes may have is the management of chronic pain. There are some terpenes, such as linalool, myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, and limonene, which are known for having potential painkilling properties. Most of these terpenes interact with your cannabinoid receptors in one way or another and may act as analgesic agents. In other words, they may be able to block pain signals from getting from your nerves through your brain. Some of these terpenes may also increase the levels of adenosine in the brain, which can also lead to pain relief.
Concentration and MemoryThere are then also a select few terpenes that may be able to help increase concentration, memory and focus. Pinene, linalool, and limonene, may in their own ways all be able to help make you feel more alert. Now, here we are talking more about memory and concentration in terms of long-term health, such as acting as potential treatments for a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. In other words, various terpenes may be able to help prevent or at least slow down cognitive and neural decline.
Antimicrobial BenefitsOne of the lesser-known benefits of terpenes is that they may also have antibacterial, antifungal, and even antiviral properties. Yes, that is right, some terpenes may be able to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Some of the terpenes that are believed to be able to do this include caryophyllene, limonene, ocimene, and pinene. Therefore, terpenes may show some promise in terms of relieving symptoms related to various bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
Stress and Anxiety ReliefFurthermore, we then have terpenes that are effective at relieving various degrees of stress, anxiety, and depression. Some of the terpenes that are believed to help on this front include limonene, pinene, myrcene, linalool, and caryophyllene. For the most part, this has to do with how these terpenes interact with the neurotransmitters in your brain, specifically those related to serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol. It is believed that various terpenes may be able to increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, while simultaneously decreasing cortisol levels. The ultimate result here is that you should feel much happier, calmer, more relaxed, and less stressed out, depressed, and anxious.
Are Terpenes Effective in Treating Inflammation?Based on various studies and pieces of research, it is shown that terpenes are indeed effective at relieving and treating inflammation, both acute and chronic inflammation. Now, terpenes on their own often won't have a huge effect, but when combined with cannabis, particularly THC and CBD, their efficacy increases significantly. This is generally related to the entourage effect, which is how cannabinoids interact with terpenes in the human body. That said, terpenes on their own may still have a variety of health benefits, mainly the ones as listed above, but those health benefits are usually much greater when combined with the cannabinoids contained in cannabis. Let's move on and talk about how exactly anti-inflammatory terpenes work.
How do Terpenes Alleviate Inflammation?Although more research is required on this front, there are a variety of ways in which they may be able to help alleviate inflammation. First and foremost, terpenes may be able to help reduce inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokine in the body. Cytokines are inflammatory markers that the immune system produces when it senses some kind of threat. Cytokines that cause inflammation to occur, with the hope of fighting off said pathogen or invader. However, this inflammation is generally just uncomfortable and painful. There are a variety of other inflammatory markers that various terpenes may be able to help reduce in your body. Strictly which inflammatory markers are concerned with depends on the type of inflammation you have. For instance, some terpenes may be able to help reduce the amount of nitrous oxide production by various inflammatory cells. Nitrous oxide is an inflammatory substance, so reducing it should in theory also reduce inflammation. It is also believed that some terpenes may be able to help inhibit cell proliferation, specifically the proliferation of inflammatory cells. It may also be the case that some terpenes can induce what is known as apoptosis in inflamed cells, which in simplest terms is the death of cells. We realize that most of this is extremely dense and scientifically heavy, but the bottom line is that terpenes may be able to help alleviate inflammation and pain in a variety of ways.
What We Know About Terpenes for InflammationLet's just do a quick summary of exactly what we know about terpenes and inflammation.
- There are various terpenes that may be able to help reduce inflammation, including myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, pinene, linalool, terpinolene, and humulene.
- These cannabinoids on their own may be able to help reduce inflammation. Although, they usually work better when combined with cannabinoids, mainly THC and CBD, which is then known as the entourage effect.
- Terpenes may be able to help reduce inflammation by inhibiting the proliferation of inflamed cells, inducing apoptosis, suppressing cytokine production, and through the induction of T-regulatory cells.