The Science of Terpenes

 

Although landmark studies in the 1960s showed that THC is the predominant psychoactive component in cannabis, there is now ample evidence that its medicinal/psychoactive properties are modified by a class of organic compounds called terpenes. At Defined we believe terpenes underlie many of the discrete biological effects induced by cannabis, and we are actively performing experiments to "crack the code" that will tell us how different terpene combinations elicit their unique biological responses. When you walk into a room and instantly recognize the smell of bacon, how does your brain know this? Aromatic molecules in bacon hit receptors on neurons in your nose that are wired to your brain centers that recognize these molecules and transduce signals that trigger you to think "yum" and cause your stomach to start grumbling. The mechanism of how cannabis works is roughly similar. As cannabis, or a concentrate of cannabis, is vaporized THC and terpenes become volatile, distribute very quickly through your body and engage protein receptors on neurons and immune cells in your body. While it is widely accepted that different cannabis strains induce unique biological responses (e.g. an "up" strain vs. a "couch-lock" strain), there is currently little real science to explain these effects. This is the void in knowledge that Defined seeks to fill.

 

Terpenes and Their Potential Medical Benefits

β-Caryophyllene

Flavor Profile : Hops, Cloves,  Earth

Medical Benefits:  Pain Relief,  Anti- ulcers, Anti- anxiety, Anti-depression

 

This terpene smells like the hops used to flavor beer. Scientific studies show this terpene is protective in animal models for pain, ulcers, anxiety and depression- is the only terpene known to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (CB2). It produces anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. β-Caryophyllene is found in several edible plants. Among those are a variety of spices, such as black pepper, cinnamon and cloves, and herbs, such as basil, rosemary, oregano and hops. 1

Humulene (aka α-Humulene/α-Caryophyllene)

Flavor Profile : Hops, woody

Medical Benefits:  Anti-inflammatory,

 

This terpene is found in hops, cloves, basil and cannabis sativa. Scientific studies show this terpene is protective of inflammation. 2

β-Myrcene

Flavor Profile : Cloves 

Medical Benefits:  Neuroprotective, Anti-inflammatory, Pain Relief

 

This is the terpene that smells a bit like cloves. Scientific studies show this terpene is neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and also beneficial for pain. Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene and is found in most varieties of cannabis. Myrcene concentration dictates whether a strain will have an Indica or Sativa effect. Strains containing over 0.5% of myrcene produce a more sedative high, while strains containing less than 0.5% myrcene have an energizing effect. Myrcene is also present in thyme, hops, lemongrass, and citrus, and is used in aromatherapy.3

Linalool

Flavor Profile : Lavender, Floral 

Medical Benefits:  Anti-anxiety, Anti-depression, Pain Relief, Anti-inflammation, Anti-Neurodegeneration

 

This terpene has a floral scent and is also found in lavender. Scientific studies show this terpene is protective from anxiety, depression, chronic pain and inflammation, and neurodegeneration. 4

Limonene

Flavor Profile : Citrus

Medical Benefits:  Anti-anxiety, Anti-depression, Pain Relief, Anti-inflammation, Anti-cancer

 

This is the terpene that smells like citrus. Scientific studies show this terpene is protective from anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, and cancer, and in some published studies in humans. 5

Geraniol

Flavor Profile : Rose

Medical Benefits:  Anti-depression, Pain Relief, Anti-inflammation, Anti-Neurodegeneration, Anti-cancer, Anti-atherosclerosis

 

This terpene has a floral scent like roses. Scientific studies show this terpene is protective from depression, pain, inflammation, cancer, atherosclerosis and neurodegeneration. 6

α-Pinene

Flavor Profile : Pine

Medical Benefits:  Pain Relief,  Anti- ulcers, Anti- anxiety, Bronchodilator and Anti-cancer

 

This terpene is the most common naturally occurring terpenoid and has a pine scent and helps to give cannabis its distinct aroma. Scientific studies show it has protective properties from anxiety, pain, ulcers, inflammation and cancer.  This terpene is produced naturally by a variety of plants and whose aroma of fresh pine needles gives it its name. In addition to being found in pine trees, pinene is produced by many herbs, such as basil, parsley and dill. 7

Epiphany contains the following Terpenes

  • β-Caryophyllene
  • Humulene
  • β-Myrcene
  • Linalool
  • Limonene
  • Geraniol
  • α-Pinene

Heal contains the following Terpenes

  • Humulene
  • α-Pinene

Footnotes

1. Involvement of peripheral cannabinoid and opioid receptors in β-caryophyllene-induced antinociception, Eur J Pain, 2013 May;17(5):664-75; Gastric cytoprotection of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene, beta-caryophyllene; Planta Med. 1996 Oct;62(5):469-70; β-Caryophyllene, a CB2 receptor agonist produces multiple behavioral changes relevant to anxiety and depression in mice, Physiol Behav. 2014 Aug;135:119-24; Polypharmacological Properties and Therapeutic Potential of β-Caryophyllene: a Dietary Phytocannabinoid of Pharmaceutical Promise, Curr Pharm Des. 2016 Mar 10

 

2. Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene alpha-humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation, Br J Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;158(4):1074-87; Anti-inflammatory effects of compounds alpha-humulene and (-)-trans-caryophyllene isolated from the essential oil of Cordia verbenacea, Eur J Pharmacol. 2007 Aug 27;569(3):228-36.

 

3. Neuroprotective effects of β-myrcene following global cerebral ischemia/reperfusion-mediated oxidative and neuronal damage in a C57BL/J6 mouse, Neurochem Res. 2014 Sep;39(9):1717-23; Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential oils from two Asteraceae species, Pharmazie. 2003 Aug;58(8):582-6; Effect of myrcene on nociception in mice, J Pharm Pharmacol. 1990 Dec;42(12):877-8.

 

4. Anxiolytic-like activity and GC-MS analysis of (R)-(+)-limonene fragrance, a natural compound found in foods and plants, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Jan;103(3):450-4; Antihyperalgesic and antidepressive actions of (R)-(+)-limonene, α-phellandrene, and essential oil from Schinus terebinthifolius fruits in a neuropathic pain model, Nutr Neurosci. 2015 Jul;18(5):217-24; Antinociceptive effect of the monoterpene R-(+)-limonene in mice, Biol Pharm Bull. 2007 Jul;30(7):1217-20; D-Limonene modulates inflammation, oxidative stress and Ras-ERK pathway to inhibit murine skin tumorigenesis, Hum Exp Toxicol. 2012 Aug;31(8):798-811; Oral administration of d-limonene controls inflammation in rat colitis and displays anti-inflammatory properties as diet supplementation in humans, Life Sci. 2013 Jul 10;92(24-26):1151-6.

 

5. Anxiolytic-like activity and GC-MS analysis of (R)-(+)-limonene fragrance, a natural compound found in foods and plants, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Jan;103(3):450-4; Antihyperalgesic and antidepressive actions of (R)-(+)-limonene, α-phellandrene, and essential oil from Schinus terebinthifolius fruits in a neuropathic pain model, Nutr Neurosci. 2015 Jul;18(5):217-24; Antinociceptive effect of the monoterpene R-(+)-limonene in mice, Biol Pharm Bull. 2007 Jul;30(7):1217-20; D-Limonene modulates inflammation, oxidative stress and Ras-ERK pathway to inhibit murine skin tumorigenesis, Hum Exp Toxicol. 2012 Aug;31(8):798-811; Oral administration of d-limonene controls inflammation in rat colitis and displays anti-inflammatory properties as diet supplementation in humans, Life Sci. 2013 Jul 10;92(24-26):1151-6.

 

6. Geraniol produces antidepressant-like effects in a chronic unpredictable mild stress mice model, Physiol Behav. 2015 Dec 1;152(Pt A):264-71; Protective effects of geraniol (a monoterpene) in a diabetic neuropathy rat model: attenuation of behavioral impairments and biochemical perturbations, J Neurosci Res. 2014 Sep;92(9):1205-16; Natural isoprenoids are able to reduce inflammation in a mouse model of mevalonate kinase deficiency, Pediatr Res. 2008 Aug;64(2):177-82; Preclinical renal cancer chemopreventive efficacy of geraniol by modulation of multiple molecular pathways, Toxicology. 2011 Nov 28;290(1):69-81; Geraniol inhibits murine skin tumorigenesis by modulating COX-2 expression, Ras-ERK1/2 signaling pathway and apoptosis, J Appl Toxicol. 2013 Aug;33(8):828-37; Geraniol ameliorates the motor behavior and neurotrophic factors inadequacy in MPTP-induced mice model of Parkinson's disease, J Mol Neurosci. 2013 Nov;51(3):851-62; Geraniol attenuates fibrosis and exerts anti-inflammatory effects on diet induced atherogenesis by NF-κB signaling pathway, Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Sep 5;762:102-11).

 

7. Daily inhalation of α-pinene in mice: effects on behavior and organ accumulation, Phytother Res. 2014 Sep;28(9):1284-7; Chemical composition and evaluation of the anti-hypernociceptive effect of the essential oil extracted from the leaves of Ugni myricoides on inflammatory and neuropathic models of pain in mice, Planta Med. 2010 Sep;76(13):1411-8;21; Gastroprotective and ulcer healing effects of essential oil from Hyptis spicigera Lam. (Lamiaceae), J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Apr 26;135(1):147-55; Anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective activity of (+)-α-pinene: structural and enantiomeric selectivity, J Nat Prod. 2014 Feb 28;77(2):264-9; The therapeutic efficacy of α-pinene in an experimental mouse model of allergic rhinitis, Int Immunopharmacol. 2014 Nov;23(1):273-82; Inhibition of rat mammary carcinogenesis by monoterpenoids, Carcinogenesis. 1989 Nov;10(11):2161-4; α-Pinene isolated from Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi (Anacardiaceae) induces apoptosis and confers antimetastatic protection in a melanoma model, Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Jul 29;411(2):449-54; Fragrant environment with α-pinene decreases tumor growth in mice, Biomed Res. 2012 Feb;33(1):57-61; Synergistic antitumor effect of α-pinene and β-pinene with paclitaxel against non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), Drug Res (Stuttg). 2015 Apr;65(4):214-8.

Defined Concentrates is fully compliant with the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of California