What about Terpenes?
Many people tend to focus on the major cannabinoids like THC and CBD when picking out their cannabis strains, but that’s not the only medicinal component to the plant. Terpenes are the essential oils that provide cannabis plants their different flavors and aromas. Some terpenes even help supplement the indica or sativa properties of cannabis strains. While there are over 200 different terpenes, in this article we’ll go over the most common ones to look out for.
The pinene terpene is is what gives pine needles their flavor and aroma and can also be found in many cannabis flowers. It has gastrointestinal benefits, airway flow benefits for those with COPD, as well as strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is involved in attenuating the widest variety of inflammatory pathways of all the terpenes. Alpha-pinene is also thought to improve alertness and be a stimulant. In fact, some patients who experience paranoia, anxiety or panic when using cannabis may want to choose strains that have less α-Pinene especially if using sativas.
Linalool has a citrusy, flowery aroma and is often recommended for those trying to use cannabis for anxiety or depression. It’s sedative properties are great for relaxation and some preliminary research shows it has anti-seizure properties, too. It also synergizes with alpha-pinene to enhance its anti-inflammatory properties.
Another citrus-flavored terpene that is great for mood elevation to treat stress and depression. While also being a great strain for mood and insomnia when paired with linalool, it also has anti-carcinogenic properties and is good for GI issues.
This terpene is an important component of the plant for those seeking pain relief and also provides anti-inflammatory effects. Some research also shows it is has anti-cancer properties and potential neuroprotective benefits for those with Parkinson’s disease.
Humulene (aka Alpha-Caryophyllene)
Humulene is a terpene that contributes to the flavor of beer hops. It can be helpful as an appetite suppressant for those trying to ward off the munchies, and for some pain and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Myrcene adds an earthy, hoppy flavor like humulene. It’s a great choice for insomnia just like Limonene and Linalool. You’ve probably noticed the pattern by now that most terpenes seem to have some sort of anti-cancer property and Myrcene is no exception. It also has some potential cardioprotective benefits so is good for those with heart disease.
Notable for its flowery notes, it is especially common in the Jack Herrer plant. Terpinolene is potentially beneficial for those with brain tumors, cancer or other brain lesions as it has exhibited anticancer and antioxidant effects in rat brain cells.
Another citrusy, floral terpene that is fairly common. Research shows it has multiple potential benefits, including sedative, pain-relieving and antiepileptic properties.
Geraniol gives cannabis a floral, rosey aroma and is even used in some perfumes. It has been shown to have potential benefits for diabetic neuropathy in animal studies, so it’s worth exploring for those with neurological conditions. Like a-pinene it also seems to have gastroprotective effects while also providing anti-cancer benefits.
If still having difficulty finding the right strain, it may be beneficial to experiment with different terpene profiles. Don’t write off a strain if it didn’t work for you the first time as there can be variations in harvests based on growing conditions, too. It’s important to remember that very few of the studies linked above were extensive clinical trials done on humans. Furthermore, while the vast majority of the terpenes above have anti-cancer properties, they were mostly studied using cultured cancer cells or animal models.
While most of the research above was done on individual terpenes, there’s still a lot more research to be done for the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the idea that terpenes and cannabinoids interact with each other to enhance their benefits. Many patients and users of cannabis agree that some strains do provide better relief and different kinds of ‘highs’, but it’s hard to say why or which combinations are best. In the end, you just have to dive in and try different products. If you are not yet a patient, Green Health Docs would be more than happy to help you begin your journey.