There’s no question that pain sucks. But the good news is that cannabis is proven to help manage chronic pain—and it’s not just THC and CBD that are providing relief. The greatest pain-fighting players in cannabis are cannabinoids, but did you know terpenes can also help? If you’re curious about the power of terpenes for pain management, keep reading because this article is for you.
Terpenes are a diverse class of organic compounds made by plants, including cannabis. They’re the chemicals that give the plant world its variety of scents and flavors. If you’ve ever enjoyed herbs or essential oils, you’ve already reaped some of their many benefits. In fact, essential oils largely consist of terpenes. And while these tiny molecules stimulate the senses, they also have the power to help ease our pain.
Terpenes for Pain
People have been successfully using herbs (including cannabis) to fight pain for centuries, and today we have the science to back it up. While most cannabis studies focus on cannabinoids like CBD and THC, scientists have begun looking at non-cannabinoid elements of cannabis like terpenes for anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties. A recent study on mice found that terpenes from cannabis can help guard against oxidative stress, inflammation, and pain.
Terpenes work for pain in a similar way to cannabinoids—by activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors—without getting you high. If you suffer from pain, navigating the 200+ terpene varieties can seem overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the most effective terpenes for pain. Ask your budtender about some of these on your next trip to the dispensary.
Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. It has an earthy, fruity, citrus-like aroma and provides a variety of beneficial qualities. It’s an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and potent pain reliever. Myrcene works more powerfully in combination with THC, zapping depression, boosting mood, and squashing pain.
There is a reason the word “eucalyptol” sounds like “eucalyptus.” This well-known Australian tree is one of the primary sources of eucalyptol, and it can also be found in tea tree and bay leaf. While it works as a powerful insecticide and antifungal, eucalyptol is primarily useful for relieving pain and swelling, especially when applied topically or inhaled.
Pinene has a woodsy, piney scent, and is naturally sourced from conifer tree resin. It gives cannabis a fresh scent along with powerful healing properties. Studies have shown that beta-pinene acts as a mood stabilizer and a potent antimicrobial, helping to bring relief from pain and inflammation. Pinene has also been shown to be particularly effective in easing pain associated with MS, arthritis, and cancer. It can also help counteract the short-term memory loss associated with THC.
Caryophyllene is found abundantly in cannabis, with the distinctive flavor that gives black pepper its kick. You can also find it in hops, cloves, and rosemary. It was the first non-cannabinoid compound found to activate cannabinoid receptors and works as a powerhouse to reduce inflammation and lessen pain.
Linalool has a beautiful floral aroma that promotes relaxation and a sense of calm. It’s found abundantly in over 200 plants like lavender and birch bark. While plants use it as an antimicrobial, humans have been using it for ages for its sedative, antidepressant, and pain-relieving properties. It also makes your immune system more resilient to the effects of stress, which can help relieve stress-induced pain.
While terpenes can be effective on their own, they are more powerful when combined with cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Why? It’s thought that terpenes can modulate the effects of the individual cannabinoids, so you can combine them to target specific issues like pain. This synergistic power is known as the entourage effect and allows your body to maximize the benefits of both cannabinoids and terpenes for potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving benefits.