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Do Terpenes Have Medicinal Value? Study Says Yes

THC and CBD are the two most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis plants. They are also the two cannabinoids manufacturers concentrate on for medicinal purposes. Indeed, when a patient purchases medical cannabis at a licensed dispensary, they are almost always after THC. But what about cannabis terpenes? Do they have medicinal value?

A recently released study led by researchers at the University of Arizona suggests that terpenes can be effective analgesics. The terpenes were compared to morphine and noted for their pain relief capabilities and their tendency to offer a reward. When all was said and done, the terpenes performed exceptionally well.

Relief Without Reward

Morphine has been utilized as a pain medication for decades. It is effective. There is little debate about that. But the challenge with morphine is that it offers a reward presented as euphoric feelings. The reward is what makes morphine potentially addicting. It explains why doctors need to be incredibly careful with morphine prescriptions.

On the other hand, the terpenes utilized during the University of Arizona study offered no reward. They did not impact the brain the same way morphine does. In simple English, terpenes do not make a person feel high or euphoric. Yet they still offer analgesic benefits.

For the record, the research did not involve human subjects. Terpenes were tested on laboratory mice. Research data gathered throughout the study indicated that the terpenes reduce the markers of neuropathic pain in the test animals. All the terpenes but one also appeared to effectively reduce inflammatory pain.

The Scoop on Terpenes

Terpenes are plant compounds and the main constituent of essential oils. They are the compounds that give plants, trees, etc. their distinct odors. The University of Arizona researchers say that most plants and trees have no more than two dominant terpenes. As for the typical cannabis plant, it offers approximately 150.

While researchers are just getting their feet wet in the terpene pool, terpenes have been the subject of extensive research within the medical cannabis community. Both growers and processors have been diligently working on different cannabinoid-terpene profiles in hopes of coming up with better medicines.

Terpenes have become so important to medical cannabis that dispensary technicians recommend that patients seriously consider terpene profiles. Both techs and pharmacists discuss them with patients at Zion Medicinal in Cedar City, UT.

According to Zion Medicinal, medical cannabis patients should be less concerned about brand names and more concerned about cannabinoids and terpenes. They say a product’s cannabinoid-terpene profile is the key to symptom relief. Brand names are meaningless in this regard.

Terpenes Are Easily Extracted

If future research confirms that terpenes have medicinal value, putting them to use should not be hard. Terpenes are easily extracted along with cannabinoids and other plant compounds. Cannabis plant material is processed to extract what is known as crude oil. That oil contains all the natural compounds in the plant.

Crude oil is further processed to separate cannabinoids, terpenes, fatty acids, etc. Distillation is one of the more common processes for doing so. When all is said and done, processors have separate compounds they can mix and match to create specific profiles.

Terpenes appear to have the potential to relieve neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Here’s hoping that research advances to human subjects at some point. If terpene-based medicines can eliminate the need for morphine and other prescription painkillers, patients will be better off for it.

In the meantime, medical cannabis users should pay attention to cannabinoid-terpene profiles when purchasing their medications. A pharmacist can explain how certain profiles can help with certain types of symptoms.

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