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  • by Nicola Boulton September 15, 2022 4 min read

    Do Terpenes Help with Pain?

    Evidence from the laboratory and clinic is piling up stating that cannabis has useful pharmacological effects, one of which is alleviating pain. This article will highlight terpenes' effects and the most effective terpenes for treating pain.

    Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (9-THC) are the two primary phytocannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant. More than 150 terpenes have been isolated from various cannabis chemovars, adding to the already-known spectrum of phytocannabinoids. Terpenes such as the monoterpenes (myrcene, pinene, limonene, and linalool) and the sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene and humulene) may contribute to many of the pharmacological properties of cannabis, including its anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects. However, 9-THC and CBD are considered the primary medicinal compounds.

    Terpenes: What are They?

    Terpenes are fragrant chemicals present in all plants. According to Alihosseini (2016), terpenes are aromatic compounds responsible for the energizing effects of inhaling lemon oil or strolling through a pine forest. The aromatic compounds produced by plants have two purposes: they lure in pollinators and deter herbivores. As a result of its naturally high terpene concentration, cannabis flower has a pungent "dank" scent.

    Do Terpenes Really Help with Pain?

    Terpenes in marijuana come from the same gland that produces the painkilling cannabinoids THC and CBD. A number of the terpenes in cannabis are speculated to have medicinal characteristics, including the ability to reduce pain and inflammation. The therapeutic benefits of terpenes are theorized to result from their interaction with certain protein cell receptors in the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), much like cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a physiological system in humans and other animals that helps keep the body in check by modulating various psychological and physiological processes. According to Hazekamp (2008), terpene caryophyllene is the first non-cannabinoid molecule capable of directly activating cannabinoid receptors in the body. Although additional study is required, other terpenes likely activate similar cell receptors inside the ECS.

    Terpenes are found in essential oils, topical goods like creams, lotions, household cleaners, and even certain food additives. Terpenes in cannabis contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, anticonvulsive, depressive, anxiolytic, anticancer, neuroprotective, anti-mutagenic, antitumor, anti-allergic, antibiotic, and anti-diabetic characteristics. Therefore, they may be used for a broad variety of medicinal purposes. Choose a cannabis strain with a terpene profile to cure certain ailments. It's crucial to think about things like dose, terpene profile, and CBD: THC ratio when choosing strains to treat certain diseases.

    Terpene Effects: Are They Medical or Psychological?

    A pharmacological theory contends that since they interact with the neurological and endocrine systems, aromatic chemicals like terpenes impact mood, physiology, and behavior (hormones). The psychological hypothesis contends that terpene effects are not caused by terpenes directly interacting with bodily systems but rather by a person's beliefs, expectations, emotional connections, and perceptions. Terpenes seem to have effects through both psychological and pharmacological processes. There is strong evidence that terpenes, particularly linalool and limonene, have direct physiological impacts on the body. Consequently, strains high in linalool are likely to have a sedative effect and alleviate pain, whereas those high in limonene are likely to have an uplifting effect. The effects of terpenes on the human body are not completely understood, but strong evidence indicates that psychological processes like expectancies, beliefs, and connections have a role. The takeaway here is to trust your nose above your head. More has still to be discovered about the effects terpenes have on our bodies and thoughts, but this is certain to change as more studies are conducted. Many researchers think that the many chemicals in cannabis, including terpenes and cannabinoids, interact together to generate effects that none of them could cause, making it especially crucial to investigate terpenes in the context of the many other components in whole-plant cannabis.

    Which Terpenes are Most Effective for Treating Pain?

    Multiple terpenes have been linked to anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making them promising candidates for pain relief. They include:


    The flowery terpene linalool may be found in mint, citrus fruits, and lavender, in addition to fragrances. According to El Alaoui et al. (2017), linalool is most well-known for its ability to alleviate anxiety. It may also be effective in treating inflammatory pain.


    Beta-myrcene is a type of terpene found in high concentrations in the cannabis plant. Mangoes, bay leaves, and hops contain this potent analgesic. Its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, muscle-relaxing scent is reminiscent of the earth. Indica strains, known for their sedative effects, are thought to benefit from this terpene.


    The natural environment has the highest concentrations of pinene than any other terpene. Pine needles aren't the only source; rosemary and orange peels are, too. Anxiety, inflammation, and discomfort are just some of the conditions that pinene has the potential to alleviate.


    This crowd-pleaser has the aroma of freshly cut lemons. Several well-known cannabis strains and other citrus-based natural cleaning products include it. It has been well documented for its immune-boosting and therapeutic properties. Even though this terpene is popular for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, it is most often used to treat anxiety and depression.


    Terpene caryophyllene can be found in many plants, including cloves, rosemary, and hops. Caryophyllene can directly stimulate endocannabinoid system cell receptors within the human body. Researchers believe that caryophyllene can reduce inflammation to alleviate pain and lower the risk of several serious diseases caused by inflammation by activating CB2 receptors found in the system. Caryophyllene alleviates pain in mice, according to Paula-Freire et al. (2013). The terpene also increases the efficacy of low-dose morphine in relieving pain.


    The demand for natural pain-relief solutions is expected to increase as the opioid crisis severely affects people nationwide. These days, cannabis and CBD users know everything about terpenes and expect maximum potency from their purchases. In the future, terpenes will likely be as well-known for their therapeutic uses as cannabinoids are now. Take the lead in the race to find natural pain relief by fortifying your CBD or cannabis products with the specific terpenes that research has singled out.


    Alihosseini, F. (2016). Plant-based compounds for antimicrobial textiles. In antimicrobial textiles (pp. 155-195). Woodhead Publishing.


    El Alaoui, C., Chemin, J., Fechtali, T., & Lory, P. (2017). Modulation of T-type Ca2+ channels by Lavender and Rosemary extracts. PLoS One, 12(10), e0186864.


    Paula‐Freire, L. I. G., Andersen, M. L., Molska, G. R., Köhn, D. O., & Carlini, E. L. A. (2013). Evaluation of the antinociceptive activity of Ocimum gratissimum L.(Lamiaceae) essential oil and its isolated active principles in mice. Phytotherapy Research, 27(8), 1220-1224.


    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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