Terpenes are what give trees, flowers, and plants their scent, and food their flavor. But are terpenes bad for you, or do they offer any important health benefits? When used specifically to treat certain conditions or ailments, using concentrated formulas, there is some concern that long-term use can potentially have ill effects on kidney function. Studies have found that terpenes offer both physical and emotional benefits that can be felt after smoking cannabis that contains terpenes, or by adding terpenes to your next aromatherapy session. They can also be applied topically to treat inflammation and certain skin conditions. Very powerful, potent, and versatile, there’s no doubt that there are several health benefits linked to these powerful compounds, but are they safe to use for the long-term?
Are terpenes bad for you? Unfortunately, more research is needed in order to determine the full effects of terpene use over the years. Most research has gone into the benefits of terpenes uses as opposed to how terpenes can negatively impact your health. One study has been conducted on rats, regarding the negative effects of terpene use. This study focused on the terpene beta-caryophyllene. It showed that rats forced to breathe a mixture of cannabis and beta-caryophyllene suffered kidney damage because the smoke causes beta-caryophyllene molecules to break down, turning it into a toxin. This only occurs when the terpene is smoked. This is an ongoing study, so little is known concerning long term damage and the effects of terpenes when used topically, orally, or when inhaled. As researchers continue to focus on both the negative and positive effects of terpene use, we’ll learn more about how it will impact our health after several years of use.
Keep on reading to learn more about the benefits and side effects of terpene use, what happens when we mix terpenes with cannabis, and the pros and cons of using terpenes for anxiety, pain management, and to treat certain medical conditions.
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Why Terpenes are Good for Your Health
Not all terpenes will offer impressive health benefits, but many do. An important terpene found in peppermint and citrus fruits called limonene can instantly help to improve your mood, while others can boost mental alertness and focus. Some can even help to promote relaxation, allowing you to sleep better at night.
Terpenes are basically fragrant molecules that release a type of therapeutic scent. When the terpenes are combusted, the scent is even stronger because at high temperatures they become aerosolized. However, they are also able to release a scent in their natural state.
As I mentioned, terpenes offer both mental and physical health benefits. Research has shown that terpene use can provide neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory benefits.
For many years, people experienced benefits from terpenes by inhaling them. The olfactory system is tied to the emotional center of the brain, which is how terpenes can positively impact our mood. In recent years, research has found that terpenes also directly work on the brain cells to balance their activity.
The Most Powerful Terpene
Beta-caryophyllene is a powerful terpene that’s found in cannabis, black pepper, oregano, and basil and it’s been proven to help reduce pain and inflammation. A study conducted in China involving the cognitive benefits of terpene use found that the terpene beta-caryophyllene helped to reduce inflammation in the brain by activating the CB2 receptors.
Additionally, other studies have found that high doses of linalool showed both anti-epileptic and anti-seizure effects.
How the Entourage Effect Impacts Cannabis and Terpene Use
Terpenes found in different strains of cannabis are believed to enhance the effects of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. This process is referred to as the entourage effect. The idea behind the entourage effect is that when combined, terpenes and cannabinoids can provide better therapeutic benefits compared to cannabis use alone. But is terpene use safe for everyone?
Studies have discovered that smoking cannabis with added terpenes can lead to kidney damage in some users. While terpenes are naturally occurring, this doesn’t mean that all terpenes are healthy.
As the popularity of marijuana concentrates continues to rise, manufacturers are also adding more terpenes back into the oil during the extraction process, in order to make the cannabis taste better. But considering there is little research involving the pros and cons of smoking cannabis and terpenes together, we don’t know for certain what happens when cannabis and terpenes are smoked together.
Can Terpene Use Be Harmful to Your Health?
One study used the terpene beta-caryophyllene on lab rats. These rats were forced to breathe in a combination of beta-caryophyllene and cannabis. We already know that beta-caryophyllene mixed with cigarette smoke can lead to cancer, but does mixing terpenes with cannabis make it unsafe? In cannabis, when smoked, the molecules break down the beta-caryophyllene molecule and turn it into a toxin. This toxin caused kidney damage in lab animals. When combusted, the changes that take place in the terpene and cannabis mixture cannot be controlled. This process is referred to as degradation and it only begins when the oil is smoked.
Unfortunately, no one really knows if or how bad terpene are for human consumption. There has only been a single study, and not much to go on aside from that. So, it’s unclear whether or not terpene use really can have a negative impact on the body when combusted.
While one study found that beta-caryophyllene can lead to kidney damage in some users, when combusted, others have found that terpenes added to cannabis have a unique effect on the endocannabinoid system. This is because each type of terpene delivers a different kind of sensory experience.
A Unique Experience
Evidence has shown that different strains of cannabis contain different types of terpenes. Because of this, different strains of weed will have a variety of aromas and flavors.
The latest research tells us that terpenes can lower, increase, or change the intensity and the duration of the effects of a specific strain. Basically, terpenes can do much more than just flavor your weed, they can also directly impact the unique feeling of each strain.
What is Full-Spectrum CBD Oil: Why Terpenes are So Important
Full-spectrum CB products, such as the Pure Hemp Botanicals Full Spectrum CBD Oil contains both cannabinoids and terpenes that remain intact when they’re processed. This can change the way the body receives the CBD. CBD isolate, which contains just one isolated cannabinoid, is not as effective if the entourage effect does not occur.
When processed, full-spectrum CBD is considered the most effective when the oil is extracted from a high-quality hemp flower, as opposed to the stalks, seeds, or stems. But why? The flower is said to contain the most effective and highest-quality of natural cannabinoids.
Did you know that the hemp plant contains over one hundred and twenty different types of terpenes? The amount and variety of the terpenes that are found in profiles and isolates will depend on the method used during processing. Fortunately, lab tests can now analyze these oils to detect the presence of terpenes as well as the content of the cannabinoids.
But what makes terpenes so important in regard to full-spectrum formulas? It all comes down to the entourage effect. When combined, the benefits are multiplied. The terpenes and cannabinoids will work together to produce the best effects.
Obviously, terpenes have more to offer than just a pleasant scent or flavor. As the terpenes interact with the cannabinoids, they are able to intensify the reaction they have within the body, working to create a more stable balance of nutrients.
What We Already Know
Certain types of terpenes for pain can provide relief from chronic inflammation, especially the terpene myrcene, which is found in high levels in cannabis. When mixed with beta-caryophyllene, the terpene will work to reduce inflammation and pain almost immediately.
In terms of mental health, terpenes also have their place as a natural way to treat depression, chronic stress, and anxiety.
When mixed with CBD, linalool shows positive effects on people suffering from ongoing depression and anxiety disorders. This terpene has also been the focus of a study on terpene use and natural treatments in people with Alzheimer’s disease. The study showed that regular use of linalool reversed many of the hallmarks of this form of dementia and also helped to improve both emotional and cognitive functions, due to the terpene’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Linalool was also used in a study on epilepsy because of its seizure stopping capabilities.
In terms of heart disease and cancer prevention, terpinolene was shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Regular use is also said to reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease.
Cineole contains antibacterial properties that can be used to fight against certain types of fungus. One study even showed the cineole use can prevent the sexual transmission of herpes. However, more research is needed to determine the full effects of this terpene and others commonly used to treat pain and inflammation, terpenes used to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and others that are commonly used to promote relaxation and relieve any symptoms associated with stress and anxiety.
Consult Your Physician Prior to Use
Additionally, it’s also very important to mention that terpenes should not be used in place of prescribed medication. Before you decide to treat a serious medical condition with terpenes, please check with your doctor to determine if it’s safe, and to learn more about the type of terpenes that are right for you. To learn more, make sure you stop and read my terpenes buyer’s guide to get a look at some of the leading types of terpenes available.
How Do You Dilute Terpenes?
Most brands of terpenes must be diluted prior to use. They should never be consumed without being diluted. Fortunately, terpenes tend to mix very well with other types of oils, concentrates, and plant extracts. They can also be diluted using common carrier oils such as coconut oil. With agitation, terpenes will homogenize, a process which can be sped up using low heat. Most terpenes are not water-soluble, so they have to be diluted using a type of oil. However, you can also use a type of emulsifying agent such as sunflower lecithin. To be clear, terpenes are very potent, so they should never be directly applied to the skin, inhaled, or consumed without first being diluted.
How Do You Measure Terpenes?
In their pure form, terpenes are very potent, which is why it’s very important to measure them accurately. It’s recommended that you use a type of adjustable pipette to measure accurately. Pipettes are a type of tool you can commonly find in any lab and they’re often used in medicine, biology, and chemistry to transport the measured volume of liquid. They’re also often used as dispensers for certain types of medication.
Are terpenes bad for you? The answer is, we don’t know enough to say whether or not long term terpene use will negatively impact health. Most research has focused on what terpenes can do in terms of improving your health. Researchers focused on terpenes for weight loss, and products such as Lev8 Labs Ltd Zkittles terpenes that claim not only can their terpene products reduce pain and inflammation, but it can also help to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
Terpenes are known to work collaboratively with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD to cause the entourage effect, which I discussed earlier. There’s no argument that terpene use can provide relief from certain symptoms including anxiety, depression, pain, and general discomfort. But more research is needed to determine the long term effects linked with terpene use and whether or not it will have a negative impact on a person’s overall health. Research is ongoing, so there’s really no telling when scientists can give us a clear answer.