How Terpenes Work Synergistically With Cannabinoids


Terpenes are abundant in cannabis and cannabis oils (CBD oil). There have been more than two hundred terpenes found in the cannabis plant but only the ones in concentrations of 0.05 percent or higher are of interest from a therapeutic perspective, working in conjunction with cannabinoids.

Almost all of the interesting aromas associated with different strains of CBD are due to the presence of terpenes. You might be surprised to learn that cannabinoids have no smell whatsoever so drug sniffing dogs looking for marijuana are not trained to detect THC but rather terpenes. Even though cannabinoids like THC and CBD get most of the attention when it comes to research, there is something very special about terpenes you need to know:

Terpenes amplify the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids like CBD!

In other words, terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids. For example, pinene, a highly present terpene in CBD oil, helps to build CB2 receptors. These are the receptors in the endocannabinoid system that CBD and other non-THC, i.e non-psychoactive, cannabinoids bind with to modulate the entire immune system. Another abundant terpene in CBD oil is myrcene. This terpene helps make the cell membranes with CB2 receptors more permeable to cannabinoids interacting at those receptors.

Those who conduct research on the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes in the body often refer to the synergistic effect as the “entourage effect.” You can think of terpenes as the “entourage” of cannabinoids, magnifying their effectiveness greatly. This effect is why it is so important that you select a FULL SPECTRUM CBD oil that is derived from the whole plant. If you choose a CBD oil that only has a single cannabinoid with no terpenes and no other cannabinoids present, you will not get the full therapeutic benefit of the cannabis plant. This is also why synthetically produced cannabinoids are inferior to full spectrum CBD oils derived from the whole plant.

Some scientists call the entourage effect of cannabinoids and terpenes in medical grade CBD oil “polypharmaceutical.” Just as you’d never want to take terpenes in isolation, you don’t want to take cannabinoids in isolation either. This is a very different way of thinking than the pharmaceutical companies that attempt to isolate one specific chemical compound and then synthesize (recreate it artificially in the lab) this one specific chemical, bottle it, and sell it at a very high profit margin. Mother Nature just doesn’t work that way. She gives us combinations of chemicals that work well together. This is the same reason why eating foods to get your vitamins works much better than taking synthetic vitamin pills.

Caryophyllene, another fairly abundant terpene in CBD oil, is particularly interesting in how it may amplify the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids. It turns out that this terpene actually acts like a cannabinoid and binds itself directly to CB2 receptors! In doing so, this terpene seems to make the cannabinoid CBD have a stronger anti-inflammatory effect at those receptors. Because this terpene is not a cannabinoid but seems to act like one in that it binds to CB2 receptors, it is sometimes referred to as a phytocannabinoid.

In isolation, cannabinoids are not as effective as they are when terpenes are present. Not only do terpenes amplify the beneficial effects of cannabinoids, they also add additional benefits that add to the holistic effect of taking CBD oil. For example, pinene acts as a bronchodilator which is beneficial to anyone who has asthma that also needs the CBD oil for the anti-inflammatory abilities of CBD. You can see where this would also be synergistic for someone taking CBD oil for sinus issues or chronic lung infections. Caryophyllene as been shown to help lower blood pressure in addition to amplifying the effect of CBD.

To get the maximum synergistic effect of terpenes and cannabinoids, it is important that you obtain CBD oil harvested from plants that were raised in highly fertile soil. Research as shown that terpene quantity and diversity increases the higher the quality of soil. In this way, you’ll also avoid the toxins so often present in lower quality soils, especially where industrial hemp fiber plants are grown. Think about this… most of what goes into the making of a plant comes from the soil in which it grows!

The terpenes found in CBD oils are also known to have aromatherapy benefits. These effects can be very soothing to those who are experiencing anxiety and stress due to their ailments. Terpenes can also greatly improve your mood and energy level via the aromatherapy effects. So, if you are taking CBD oil for lupus or to battle cancer, these extra benefits of terpenes work synergistically with the benefits you are receiving from the cannabinoids in the CBD oil.