You’ve probably heard that more and more people are starting to choose cannabis for pain over traditional prescription medications. But did you know that studies show people are choosing it over opioids? How can cannabis be so effective at relieving pain?
The truth is, no one cannabinoid (like THC or CBD) is responsible for the painkilling power of cannabis. While a combination of cannabis compounds team up to bring results, you might be surprised about how big of a role terpenes play in the plant’s healing powers. Let’s take a look at how terpenes can help fight pain.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found throughout the plant world. You can find them in all your favorite herbs and flowers. Terpenes are responsible for the uplifting sensation you get when you smell a lemon rind and the stimulating feeling from walking through a pine forest. Plants produce these fragrant chemicals to help attract pollinators, and help stave off animals that might otherwise eat them. Cannabis is naturally high in terpene content, giving cannabis flower its potent “dank” aroma.
How Terpenes Work for Pain
While terpenes are famous for being the ingredients in your favorite essential oils, they also have proven health benefits like pain relief. The primary reason terpenes work for pain is because of their ability to reduce inflammation. To understand how they work, let’s take a look at why inflammation occurs in the first place.
When our bodily tissue is injured or threatened, our immune systems trigger inflammation as a way to protect the tissue from a potential foreign invader. This inflammatory response also helps the body heal itself by sending repair tools to the site of the injury. But it can also put pressure on surrounding nerves, which causes pain. When the body experiences too much inflammation too often, it can lead to chronic pain.
Just like cannabinoids, terpenes have the power to suppress an overactive immune response to reduce inflammation and pain. And when cannabinoids and terpenes work together, they maximize the power of each other — a phenomenon called the entourage effect.
Best Terpenes for Pain
There are over 200 different types of terpenes in the cannabis plant, including several that fight pain. But which ones should you look for at your next trip to the dispensary? Here is a list of the pain-relieving terpenes that we love. We think you’ll love them too.
Beta-caryophyllene is one of the most sought-after terpenes for pain relief. This terpene produces a peppery aroma that’s often described as spicy. In addition to cannabis, it can be found in herbs like cinnamon, basil, clove, and rosemary. But the most distinguishing characteristic of beta-caryophyllene is the fact it is categorized as both a terpene and a cannabinoid.
This lemony favorite smells like fresh cut citrus fruit. It can be found in many natural citrus-based cleaners and a number of famous cannabis strains. It’s known for its healing power and ability to stimulate the immune system. People love this terpene for relieving anxiety and depression, but it’s best known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties
You can find linalool in fragrant herbs like lavender and mint, and it’s known for being a contributing factor in the relaxing qualities of cannabis. It’s also been used in traditional medicines for centuries for its antidepressant and pain-relieving properties. It can fight inflammation like nobody’s business and is a great choice to treat arthritis, MS, chronic pain, and even insomnia.
Beta-myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant. You can also find this powerful pain-reliever in bay leaves, mangos, and hops. It has a calming, earthy fragrance that works hard to fight inflammation, ease pain, and relax sore muscles. This terpene is thought to contribute to the “couch-lock” qualities of sedative indica strains.
While terpenes are a great way to treat pain, they’re also used to do things like reduce anxiety, increase feelings of relaxation, enhance cognitive performance and alertness, and make it easier to fall asleep. There’s no limit to the healing power of these amazing plant compounds.
Are you ready to put cannabis terpenes to work for your pain? We’d love to help. Stop by our Venice Beach dispensary for tips and recommendations.