Terpenes, essential oils found in cannabis which give the plant its unique aroma, are particularly compelling. A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology states that terpenoids are “pharmacologically versatile: they are lipophilic, interact with cell membranes, neuronal and muscle ion channels, neurotransmitter receptors, G-protein coupled (odorant) receptors, second messenger systems and enzymes.”
The researchers explored the powerful effect terpenes exert in animal tests. Limonene was found to increase serotonin in the prefrontal cortex and dopamine in the hippocampus region of the brain — both of which help fend-off depression and feelings of stress. Moreover, limonene induces apoptosis (cell death) of breast cancer cells and demonstrated exceptional radical scavenging properties. It’s also remarkably bioavailable, rapidly metabolized and is highly non-toxic and non-sensitizing.
Myrcene is anti-inflammatory and an effective sleep aid, while pinene acts as a bronchodilator and broad spectrum antibiotic — including the destruction of lethal MRSA bacteria. Pinene also curbs inflammation. Linalool is a sedative and anticonvulsant. Caryophyllene is antimalarial, anti-inflammatory and useful in treating duodenal ulcers. Nerolidol inhibits fungal growth and protozoal parasites. Phytol increases GABA expression, resulting in a calming effect. These are just a handful of the 200 varieties of terpenes found in cannabis.