Which Terpenes Are Best For Treating Depression?

Best cannabis terpenes for cannabis

While there are many terpenes, few from the cannabis plant can be used to treat depression. Image Credit: Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Terpenes are a plethora of volatile organic compounds that stimulate olfactory sensations. The aroma of them is a veritable bouquet of sweet, spicy and even earthy scents. Not only are they useful industrially, but they can also provide additional valuable ecological properties as well as medical properties.

In reality, all the plants can survive with other organisms in a given environment. This is made possible because of phytochemicals (from Greek phyto-, meaning “plant”) produced within the plants. Phytochemicals are referred to as terpenes are entirely natural occurring. Now the question is what exactly terpenes are. They are extremely sweet with a nice scent and are also responsible for interactions among organisms. While plants might be able to photosynthesize or nurture without them, they are very important to ensure the survival of plants in a given environment.

The Importance of Terpenes

Very recently, scientists have discovered that terpenes play a very important role by providing functions on the nervous system and brain of various species. More or less, there is a consensus over the fact that terpenes fulfill significant ecological functions. Terpenes are also of interest to scientists who study the way terpenes may affect the human brain to alleviate symptoms of disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Keeping in mind the fossil evidence, the production of terpene and development of land plants started in ~388 MYA where old mosses and similar plant species with bodily fluids were enclosed in a membrane.

When these bodily fluids were damaged, terpenes were set free that are proven to provide cytotoxic activity to ensure protection from the cells of insects, fungi, and spineless mammals. Initial fossils show that terpenes might have been a source of a hindrance for herbivores since they were nothing but plants cells that could not e digested.

The fact that phytochemicals have an impact on the brain is argued through two main hypotheses. The impact could be a result of biochemical, molecular, and cellular resemblance among humans and plants or because the insect nervous system and that of humans is somewhat the same. Both the hypotheses can occur at the same time, suggesting they are not mutually exclusive.

The Cannabis Plant

The Cannabis plant goes through a cycle of 4-8 month and can emerge as either a female or male. Their development followed by permanent growth is dependent upon the duration of the light and dark associated with the respective time of the month. A female plant develops a bunch of buds at the stem and leaf which are responsible for the production of large quantity of seeds for every plant. On the other hand, Wild Cannabis are fertilized by wind-borne pollen, and as far as a male plant is concerned, it dies once the pollen comes off.

Nevertheless, cannabis today is “sinsemilla”, which implies it is purely female cultivation, the plants do not fertilize, and the developing of seed is compensated by producing a greater number of flowers. Sinsemilla Cannabis has prominent amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes and involves a much better growth of trichomes.
All the air-borne areas of the Cannabis plant contain cannabinoids and terpenes. However, most are present in resinous trichomes.

The exudate that contains a good amount of terpene is combined with capitate glandular trichomes and accumulated in round shaped cells having an excellent membrane. As stated before, terpenes are believed to serve a great many ecological functions. They help attract some of the insects; however, there is a limit to it. If an organism somewhat damages the membrane present at the end of a trichome, the membrane can easily leak and free the fluids, allowing for direct resistance. In addition to this, terpenes can also serve as within organisms signaling devices and referred to as pheromones.

Terpenes, other than plants are also used by insects and animals to communicate with each other through signaling. Lately, scientists have argued on how two distinct types of fungi and bacteria chemically signal one another through terpenes.

Phytochemistry & Cannabis

After carefully studying the phytochemistry of Cannabis, it is found that one of the most natural products coming from Cannabis has to be terpenes. As terpenes are known for their scent, they are utilized in perfumes and aromatherapy. The popular terpene, Limonene is responsible for scented citrus flavor in citrus.

Another most used terpene is Pinene that that gives the true flavor of pine. Limonene and Pinene, compared to other terpenes are most commonly used. By manipulating Cannabis, growers have achieved strains for different quantities of cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabis on which the most research is done include linalool, pinene, humulene, limonene, myrcene, and caryophyllene.

Each of these terpenes has medicinal properties in addition to scents or tastes, and they are just beginning to be discovered. Cannabis strain are known for having powerful flavors and aromas this is due to terpene variation within specific strains, although cannabinoids are largely understood to be flavorless and odorless. Each terpene has specific medicinal effects that can be exploited.

  • Pinine is a combustible liquid having no color and seems to be very repugnant to insects. It is present in conifers, on the tree sap. It is usually customized to be utilized in perfumes.
  • Limonene also has no color and is responsible for the citrus aroma. It is also useful in cleaning up products. There also exists a kind of limonene that does not belong to the mint family and rather have a “musky” or “piney” aroma. Limonene is also used as a flavoring for foods, as a preservative in cosmetics, and as an insecticide on crops. Limonene is also found in citrus fruits.
  • Linalool is used in many marketable products and is believed to have a “spicy floral” aroma. To get rid of the mosquitoes, it is added in insecticidal sprays. In addition to this, it is used in various shampoos and soaps. Some of the linalool smell like lavender or have a particular “woody” scent.
  • Humulene is the most important essential oils from hops and is responsible for giving the beer a “hoppy” flavor. In reality, plants release it as a gas that aids the development of natural aerosol in the environment. This process is also referred to as plant’s “cloud seeding”.
  • Caryophyllene, on the other hand, is responsible for the aroma and spicy flavor of clove and black pepper. It is found in rosemary, Cannabis, and hops. Recently, a lot of research is being done on it to find its possible medicinal advantages such as providing relief from inflammation.
  • Lastly, Myrcene is found in spices including, cannabis, hops, and parsley. It is credited for giving a “herbal” and “peppery” taste.

Also, various processes like steam distillation can help separate terpenes from diverse plants. Of the terpenes listed above, Caryophyllene and limonene specifically have been found to have an effect on mood. They both have antidepressant properties.

It can be difficult to find cannabis strains that are bred specifically for the terpenes you are seeking to treat specific complaints such as depression, but the name of the strain is a great clue. Limonene, for instance, is found in strains of cannabis that have “lemon” or “lime” or “orange” in the title. In order to find other strains that are good for depression, you may need to talk to someone who has used these specific terpenes for that purpose. Also make sure you seek professional medical advice before hand.

Caryophyllene (beta-caryophyllene of BCP) is a terpene that affects depression by interacting with the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system in the body. Scientists have shown that that CB2 cannabinoid receptor has a regulating effect on mood, including depression and anxiety. Based on the fact that BCP does not interact with the CB1 receptor, it has no mind-altering effect like THC. The BCP molecules act strictly with the CB2 receptor, having a positive effect for people with mood disorders.

Trying Terpenes

Many Cannabis products sold, like vape pens, are isolated cannabinoid oils. In processing, terpenes were traditionally completely removed from CBD oil. To give vape oils distinctive flavors, vendors actually often added terpenes back in to create particular flavors and aromas. Due to the development of technologies that isolate cannabinoids and terpenes, extracts are being developed that preserve terpene profiles.

If you choose to try cannabis terpenes for treating depression, there are a number of things you need to consider before doing so.

  • Firstly, make sure that you are using the right strain. Talk to someone with experience.
  • Secondly, choose the right method. Smoking or vaping can deliver a more immediate effect. Edibles have a more long-term effect. In both cases, you should be careful and start with very small doses (microdoses).

Either method can have a sedating or drowsy effect that is not something that people with depression want to add to their symptoms. The goal is to use the least amount possible to avoid the drowsy/lack of motivation side effects. As always, talk to your doctor before adding terpene therapy to your treatment for depression, and do not discontinue any prescription medications without the advice of a medical professional.

What’s the latest on CBD and Depression? Check out this article: Everything You Need To Know About Treating Your Depression with Cannabis.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
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