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  • by Nicola Boulton September 15, 2022 5 min read

    Do Terpenes Help with Anxiety?

    The distinctive qualities of cannabis buds are the result of hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals found inside the plant. One class of these chemicals, called terpenes, has qualities that help reduce anxiety under certain circumstances. In addition to contributing distinctive aromas, terpenes do much more for the cannabis plant.

    The more we discover about the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant, the more applications we find for it. Terpenes, for instance, are increasingly being used to treat conditions like anxiety. CBD and THC aren't the only cannabinoids capable of providing both physical (e.g., anti-inflammatory) and mental health benefits from cannabis. Terpenes, which have just recently entered the cannabis community's discourse, play a significant part in the "entourage effect." Essentially, they communicate with and enhance the effects of the other cannabinoids in marijuana. However, recent studies have shown that terpenes have powerful anti-anxiety effects on their own. This article highlights some of the most effective terpenes for treating anxiety. It also provides an overview of the top strains of cannabis for relieving stress and nervousness.

    What are Terpenes?

    Terpenes are organic, aromatic chemicals that give plants their signature scent and taste. Oranges, apples, basil, and pepper are only a few examples of such items. According to Hyldgaard, Mygind, & Meyer (2012), terpenes are the backbone of essential oils, several of which have been studied for their therapeutic effects. The terpene linalool, for instance, is responsible for the pleasant aroma and, more importantly, the beneficial effects of lavender oil. The advantages mentioned include alleviation of stress, headaches, treatment of fungus infections, and decreased inflammation. Caryophyllene and myrcene are among the more than 200 terpenes found in cannabis. They collaborate with other cannabinoids in marijuana to generate a wide range of effects, from reducing pain and inflammation to controlling epilepsy and other seizure disorders. According to Russo (2011), terpenes may protect against dementia as well. Therefore, they are often found in CBD oil.

    Terpenes and the Treatment of Anxiety

    According to Gaby (2009), terpenes may boost your spirits and general health without causing any negative side effects. Many cannabis products highlight the presence of terpenes; however, terpenes may reduce stress without the presence of cannabis. These people are capable of doing so alone. Terpenes complement cannabinoids such as CBD, which is why cannabis is often connected with anxiety alleviation. Broad-spectrum CBD, which is produced from hemp, has many of the same terpenes and has the same anxiolytic effect without the psychoactive high that might make some people uneasy.

    How Exactly Do Terpenes Work to Calm Nerves?

    Terpenes' effects on the human body are mostly unknown. As preliminary studies have shown, terpenes have a wide range of effects on the mind and body, from influencing our endocannabinoid system to influencing our neurotransmitters. There are a number of mechanisms through which terpenes reduce anxiety. The calming properties of terpenes may help quiet an anxious nervous system and promote restful sleep. The correlation between better sleep and less anxiety is strong. It's possible that some terpenes only induce relaxation without making you sleepy. Some terpenes, like limonene, may boost stress resistance rather than immediately alleviate anxiety.

    The Most Effective Terpenes for Stress

    Anxiety may manifest in a wide range of ways and cause a wide range of mental and physical symptoms, some of which can be very disabling. Although antidepressants may be helpful, many individuals are reluctant to use them due to concerns about addiction and other negative effects. Thankfully, there are natural alternatives, and terpenes have quickly risen to prominence as a leading competitor.


    Among the several terpenes found in cannabis, myrcene is by far the most common, accounting for around half of all occurrences. This terpene may also be found in abundance in mangoes, lemongrass, hops, and basil. According to Bonini et al. (2018), myrcene has a long history of medical use, most notably in the treatment of persistent illnesses such as high blood pressure, diarrhea, diabetes, and dysentery. Myrcene is known to have significant anxiolytic effects. When mixed with other terpenes, studies suggest it has sedative effects on par with the barbiturate phenobarbital. Because of this, those with sleeplessness, anxiety, or both tend to choose cannabis strains rich in myrcene. Myrcene has been shown to have anti-catabolic properties, in addition to its other advantages, which include alleviating pain and inflammation.


    Because of its anti-inflammatory characteristics, beta-caryophyllene is among the top terpenes for relieving stress and nervousness. Beta-caryophyllene-rich strains tend to be the most relaxing and tranquil options, so they might be particularly helpful if you're feeling anxious. This pungent-smelling terpene, found in black pepper and lemon balm, has been shown to have antidepressant qualities in preliminary studies. Beta-caryophyllene is well-known as a terpene that may bind to and activate CB2 receptors. To a large extent, the therapeutic effects of THC that do not include psychoactive effects are due to these receptors.


    Limonene has a pleasant citrus aroma and flavor. Why? And that's because it's derived from the oil of citrus peels like orange and lemon! Still, this is one of the most effective terpenes for calming anxious feelings and calming down those prone to paranoia. Some research suggests that it may also have an antidepressant effect, in addition to its other recognized benefits, like its ability to deal with anxiety.


    Lavender, jasmine, and basil all contain the chemical linalool. Also, it's a common component of medicinal cannabis strains used to treat mental health issues including anxiety and depression. This soothing terpene is effective against anxiety, and it may also aid with depression. Its comforting qualities make it perfect for relieving stress and anxiety and promoting a general sense of well-being.


    Alpha-pinene, as its name implies, originates in pine trees. The anti-inflammatory, mental-enhancing, anxiety-lowering, depression-relieving properties of this earthy terpene are well-documented. Currently, there isn't a ton of study on the benefits of alpha-pinene on anxiety, but what there is shows promise.


    Terpenes' synergistic effects may be considerably greater than their separate strengths. In addition, they increase CBD's efficacy, making it more potent than CBD alone. Anxiety may be zapped with the appropriate blend of terpenes. In a similar vein, the entourage effect and the distinctive terpene profiles of some hemp strains provide a calming effect.


    Hyldgaard, M., Mygind, T., & Meyer, R. L. (2012). Essential oils in food preservation: mode of action, synergies, and interactions with food matrix components. Frontiers in microbiology, 3, 12.

    Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364.

    Gaby, A. R. (2009). Nutritional approaches to prevention and treatment of gallstones. Alternative medicine review, 14(3), 258.

    Bonini, S. A., Premoli, M., Tambaro, S., Kumar, A., Maccarinelli, G., Memo, M., & Mastinu, A. (2018). Cannabis sativa: A comprehensive ethnopharmacological review of a medicinal plant with a long history. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 227, 300-315.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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