The taste of oregano we add to food. The sweet citrus smell of an orange we eat to help ward off cold and flu. The lavender oil we inhale as part of aromatherapy to bring on sleep . . . Natural substances called terpenes give flavor and fragrance to many fruits and plants, including cannabis.
More than being a pretty smell, terpenes also provide a variety of health benefits, including reducing pain and inflammation, increasing calm and relaxation, enhancing alertness, lowering anxiety, and making sleep an attainable goal.
“For years it was thought that people benefited from inhaling terpenes because our olfactory system, or sense of smell, is tied to emotional centres in the brain, thus having a positive effect on our mood,” says Josh Kaplan, a neuroscientist at The University of Washington. “However, recently it’s been identified that the terpenes also act directly on brain cells to modulate their activity.”
They appeal to people who want natural solutions to health issues, as part of a holistic approach that covers lifestyle changes, balanced diets, herbal remedies and vitamin supplements. The idea is, each of these practices and natural substances do good on their own but can work together to deliver even more health value.
3. Terpene-Vitamin Pairings Worth Trying
Following are three terpene-vitamin combinations that may enable you to better cope with pain, relieve your stress level and get a better sleep:
- Caryophyllene & Vitamin B Complex for Chronic Pain With a spicy, peppery odor, caryophyllene is found in cloves, black pepper cinnamon, basil, oregano and hops, as well as cannabis. The terpene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, perhaps making it a good bet for helping with chronic pain and conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Cannabis strains with caryophyllene in them include Bubba Kush, Sour Diesel and GSC.
Vitamins B3, B9 and B12 have shown some promise in treating different arthritis conditions improving joint mobility and hand grip and reducing inflammation. B12 helps with cell reproduction but also provides protection for our nerves. B3 works to build a strong nervous system and also enhances the effects of medications such as ibuprofen.
- Linalool & Vitamin D for Better Sleep Often used in aromatherapy, this lavender-scented terpene is found in hundreds of plants, including marijuana. Some evidence suggests that it can help lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as protecting the immune system from stress. As far as sleep, linalool boosts levels of adenosine, a sedating hormone that helps with getting shut-eye. A 2017 study says that the terpene helped to lessen sleep problems in older adults suffering from dementia. Cannabis strains high in linalool include Grandaddy Purple, Lavender Kush, and Fire OG.
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to sleep disorders.. So taking a supplement, especially in conjunction with linalool, can help restore balance and make it easier to fall and stay asleep. Vitamin D also serves to promote strong bone growth as it interacts with calcium, and may help to control inflammation in the body.
- Limonene & Rhodiola Rosea for Stress Relief Helping to boost serotonin levels in the brain, limonene has been shown to lower levels of anxiety and stress, to help improve the symptoms of depression, and have mood-lifting effects. Found in fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit, the terpene is also a key ingredient in cannabis strains such as White Fire OG, Purple Hindu Kush, and Cinex.
Rhodiola rosea is an herb found in the cold, mountainous regions of Russia and Asia. Its active ingredients of rosavin and salidroside have made it known as an adaptogen, a natural, non-toxic herb that helps increase your body’s stress stress resistance. One study showed that rhodiola rosea worked to improve the condition of people with chronic fatigue syndrome, and another showed that it improved symptoms including anxiety, exhaustion, and irritability in people suffering from stress-related burnout.
How Terpenes Work
Terpenes are highly active, aromatic molecules found in plants, insects and animals. There about 20,000 terpenes known to exist in the natural world, with 200 or so found in various strains of cannabis. Different terpenes have different effects on the body, whether it's on mood, cognition or on the immune system. Some can be stimulating and some sedating.
The terpene profiles of different strains of cannabis often dictate the kind of effects that they will have on the body. For example, the Lavender Kush strain, with the linalool terpene, may work to help get a better sleep by producing a sedative effect, quieting nervous system activity, and promoting deep calm and drowsiness.
Terpenes are different from cannabinoids — cannabis compounds, the best known of which are CBD and THC — which activate receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to achieve their effects, including health benefits. While terpenes may also work on ECS, they are absorbed by the body in different ways.
Terpenes also work in conjunction with CBD and THC, possibly amplifying their effect, in what is known as the “entourage effect” — if properly applied they can increase the health benefits of medical cannabis. A variety of cannabinoids used in conjunction with different terpenes lead to better therapeutic effects than the cannabinoids alone.
Find the Combination That Works Best for You
It’s possible that terpenes used together with vitamins might provide another kind of entourage effect but more research must be done to prove that this is the case. Both terpenes and vitamins occur naturally in a range of foods, so can be consumed together in oranges, mangoes, hops and in many others. Terpenes are for the most part considered non-toxic and safe for consumption, so they can safely be combined with various vitamins to boost their beneficial properties.
The kind of benefits that a cannabis strain can have for you is determined by a lot of things, including the type of terpene, whether it is an indica, sativa or hybrid strain, and the levels of THC vs. CBD. This may seem like a lot of information to juggle, but with a bit of research and trial and error you can find your own winning terpene-vitamin combination to achieve the health results you are looking for.