It’s Not Just Cannabinoids Which Bring Health Benefits
When cannabis educated lay people or professionals talk about the benefits from cannabis, they do more than just talk about cannabinoids, they spend a lot of time and detailings discussing flavonoids and terpenes. And, it’s the terpenes and flavonoids in cannabis which we should acknowledge for their critical role.
It’s not just the 110+ cannabinoids in cannabis which are thought to reduce pain, inflammation, anxiety, migraines, headaches and various body aches, it’s 200+ other molecules which work together to benefit these most-common health complaints. These component compounds work together (i.e., synergistically) to create diverse and important benefits, side effects, and strain qualities. The more we research what has been illegal for 75+ years, the closer we come to success by targeting the individual symptoms and diseases which cause universal health problems around the world.
If you have ever done any research around CBD oil, you will have heard of the terms ‘full spectrum CBD oil, ‘broad spectrum CBD oil’ or ‘CBD distillate’. These are the three types of CBD that you can typically buy, the difference between them being the ‘purity’ the CBD.
You probably know that CBD distillate is CBD in its purest form, whereas full spectrum CBD is at the other end of the range, giving you not only CBD, but all of the other compounds in the plant – cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, and broad spectrum CBD oil is placed somewhere between the two.
Terpenes (also known as “terpenoids”) are compounds responsible for what you smell and taste from cannabis, and prove growing evidence they augment certain benefits from cannabinoids. Flavonoids are similar to terpenes because they contribute to a plant’s aroma and flavor profile, but may offer their own unique therapeutic effects.
Terpenes are fragrant oils produced by many different types of plants, and some insects. When you smell a strong aroma in plants and fruits, it’s from terpenes. Botanists speculate that they have evolved as a way to help nature by deterring predators and luring pollinators. Only recently have numerous studies published that terpenes have beneficial therapeutic properties ranging from anti-anxiety and anti-depressive, to pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory. But with so many terpenes to choose from, which ones are the best terpenes for pain?
Terpenes in cannabis are secreted by the same gland which produce pain-relieving cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It is not surprising that several cannabis terpenes are also thought to possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Terpenes are somewhat similar to cannabinoids because they are thought to communicate with certain protein cell receptors in our body’s inner endocannabinoid system (ECS) which produce beneficial therapeutic effects. The ECS is a natural physiological system (like all our systems: neurological, cardiologic, respiratory, endocrine, etc) which are found in humans and all animals and is responsible for maintaining the balance (“homeostasis”) in our body by regulating vital bodily functions, such as: mood, pain, appetite, sleep, stress, and more. A 2008 study found the terpene caryophyllene to be the first non-cannabinoid compound which could directly activate cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. Many scientists call for increased research because they show evidence that it’s possible that other terpenes work through the same pathway by activating various cell receptors within our ECS.
Terpenes Fight Pain
- Linalool: Linalool is a floral terpene commonly found in perfumes and naturally found in mint, citrus, and lavender. It’s well known for it’s anti-anxiety properties, while it clearly demonstrates its anti-inflammatory benefits/
- Myrcene: (also known as: beta-myrcene) is the most common terpene in cannabis, and thought to be the dominant terpene in 40+% of known cannabis strains. It’s a spicy, earthy terpene which is found in so many different fruits and flowers; from lemongrass to mangoes. Because in multiple studies myrcene was identified to relieve pain in some rodents, many other animal studies have identified that myrcene may be useful to treat anxiety. Some promising new studies show the potential for myrcene to be an effective muscle relaxant.
- Alpha-Pinene: Pine is what you’ll smell so fragrantly. Alpha-Pinene is usually simply referred to as “pinene”, and is the most common terpene in nature. You can smell it in rosemary, conifer trees, orange peels, and of course, pine needles. This widespread terpene is thought to possess a wide range of therapeutic effects which seems to help with anxiety, inflammation, and pain.
- Limonene: A bitter citrus taste distinguishes limonene. We smell it so clearly in orange, juniper, and lemon. Research looks to limonene as beneficial to stimulate the immune system while it combats inflammation, depression, stress, and anxiety.
- Caryophyllene: Put your nose close to rosemary, cloves, hops, and so many more and it’s caryophyllene, which is thought to impart the spicy kick you smell in black pepper. It is also well known as an effective pain relieving terpene. Research on caryophyllene was shows evidence that it directly activates cell receptors in our body’s inner endocannabinoid system. Researchers speculate that this terpene activates our CB2 receptors which triggers a reduction in inflammation, which subsequently lessens pain and the risk of a variety of serious diseases which are caused by inflammation.
Flavonoids are found only in cannabis plants (they’re called: cannaflavins). And, when cannabis educated people talk about terpenes, they almost always talk about flavonoids. The problem is that because of a lack of adequate research, they are much less understood than terpenes. Yet flavonoids are not rare in cannabis, and they compose about 10% of all of the compounds which are found in the hemp plant.
It’s flavonoids which are credited with giving a plant its pigment and help protect it from harmful UV rays. And it’s flavonoids which are primarily responsible for giving the hemp plant its unique aromas and flavors.
Some of the most common flavonoids are:
- Cannaflavin – with anti-inflammatory attributes
- Kaempferol – which is high in antioxidant and anticancer properties
- Quercetin – which exhibits strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, and is typically found naturally in apples, onions, green tea, wine and fruit and vegetables.
It’s the Entourage Effect!
When we take CBD for beneficial health reasons, it’s the combination of terpenes and flavonoids which add to the beneficial properties caused by cannabinoids.
This is known as the entourage effect – the fact that CBD is more effective to humans when we take it with all the other compounds which are in the plant, instead of just the single molecule (Isolate) called CBD. This is why, cannabis educated health professional recommend that anyone who takes CBD take full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD as this will give us the wide range of terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids.
Can You Order Up Some Flavonoids?
One would wish! As cannabis research becomes legal throughout the more educated and scientifically and health-oriented countries, we will begin to learn the clear benefits. Only then will government regulators allow commercial and academic entities to perform the important research and development.
Can You Order Up Some Terpenes?
Yep! It’s just not that commercially popular. Keep reading our blog posts for what’s good for you (Coming soon, we hope!)