When Terpenes and CBD Interact: Understanding the Entourage Effect

In recent years, terpenes and CBD have been quickly gaining public attention as possible natural remedies for a variety of illnesses, thanks to the legalization of cannabis in multiple states. Both terpenoids and cannabinoids are present in cannabis – hundreds of different terpenoids and around 113 cannabinoids (CBD and THC being the most dominant) have already been identified in the cannabis plant alone.

A Quick Introduction to Terpenes and CBD

Most of us have been using products infused with terpenes, a key component in plant essential oils, for most of our lives. Some common examples are cleaning liquids and many skincare products. Terpenes are the compounds found in plants that are responsible for their taste, scent, and flavor. Some terpenes even serve to defend plants against insects. They are commonly incorporated into products for their scent (ex. Aromatherapy essential oils) as well as their health benefits.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids among users because of its non-psychoactive quality. Meaning that users may reap the benefits of cannabis without their daily lives or personal routines being affected by “getting high.” It is especially convenient because it’s available in many different forms. CBD is most commonly available in oils, gummies, and tinctures.

When it All Comes Together – Producing the Entourage Effect

Terpenoids and cannabinoids each provide benefits on their own, and they are greatly amplified when the two are combined; due to their interaction with the endocannabinoid system, specifically how they affect the human CB2 receptors (found primarily in the immune and gastrointestinal system) and CB1 receptors (mainly found in the brain and nervous system). This phenomenon is called the “Entourage Effect.” The term was introduced in 1998 by Raphael Mechoulam and S. Ben-Shabat. These two Israeli organic scientists uncovered the process by which terpenoids and cannabinoids naturally synergize for improved efficacy. 

Manufacturers and growers are taking full advantage of this relationship, using it to customize and optimize their products to better fulfill customers’ individual needs. When cannabinoids are paired with the appropriate terpenoids, the health benefits can effectively be stacked –  this is why there are so many popular designer strains on the market. Cannabis has become a common alternative for people suffering from chronic pain and those who seek to possibly manage symptoms that accompany cancer treatment.

How to Customize Your CBD Experience Using the Entourage Effect

CBD is a wonderful alternative to THC because of its flexibility and lack of psychoactive side effects. Terpenes are not water soluble; however, they homogenize well with CBD oil, making it extremely easy to customize your experience. Since terpenes each have their own possible health benefits, they can be used to potentiate the effects of your CBD oil or infuse additional benefits. 

Terpenes can effectively control your CBD experience. Some people might want to ramp up the myrcene if they are feeling anxious or restless from being bedridden, or lean more toward limonene or linalool if depression is starting to settle in. Knowing the potential healing qualities of individual terpenes is key to better understanding just how it will interact with CBD. There are thousands of terpenes that have been identified so far, and that number continues to grow as the science evolves. Below are short descriptions of four more dominant terpenes that can be found in cannabis:

  • Linalool is found in more than 200 species of flowers and spice plants. Though it’s a common terpene in cannabis, it’s most known for its dominance in lavender. It acts as a sleep aid and has long been used as an anxiety treatment, which is why lavender is a popular scent in candles and room sprays. Linalool is also associated with vitamin E, a necessary vitamin in cellular regeneration and healthy body functions. And is also an effective anticonvulsant and anti-inflammatory.
  • Limonene is a terpene often found in cleaning products from floor cleaner to face wash – because it has natural antibiotic, mood-lifting, and antioxidant properties. It can be most recognized by its citrusy scent and is found in plants like lemons and limes, as well as in orange zest. 
  • Myrcene is commonly found in massage oils because of its ability to improve blood circulation and is often a component of aromatherapy essential oils. It is said to be an effective anti-inflammatory, sedative, antispasmodic, analgesic, muscle relaxant, and antibiotic terpene. This is why it can be found in higher concentrations in very popular strains among those looking for possible chronic pain relief.
  • Alpha-Humelene is a terpene that’s shared by beer (hops) and cannabis. It can also be found in plants long recognized for their healing abilities like sage, ginseng, and ginger. This terpene also may act as an appetite suppressant, which makes it a great dulling agent for “the munchies” if used with CBD or THC.

With CBD being available in so many different forms, customers are no longer limited to the terpenes that naturally occur in cannabis. They can even customize each experience according to scent or taste preferences. The possibilities are only broadening.

As medical researchers continue on their work, humanity becomes more able to understand that it’s possible to treat and heal our bodies using natural remedies. There are options outside traditional Western medicine, and some individuals have even found them to be more effective. The human body is a miracle of nature, so it’s only logical that nature would provide ways to help it along.

About the Author

Eric Van Buskirk is the publisher Of DopaSolution.com, a website about mental health. Van Buskirk’s an evangelist for website, WC3 (World Wide Web Consortium) accessibility standards. He received his MS from Boston University in Mass Communication and undergraduate degree from Skidmore College.

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