How may well terpenes contribute to the ‘entourage effect’ of cannabis?


Mike TagenDecember four, 2019

(WinsomeMan, TShum/iStock)

The entourage impact describes how unique elements of the cannabis plant interact to produce the exclusive effects of a variety of strains and items. This “entourage” of diverse plant chemical substances need to theoretically deliver effects that differ from a single isolated compound like CBD or THC.

Consider of it this way: A patient finds discomfort relief from a specific dose of THC, but can’t tolerate the side effects of this dose, such as anxiousness or memory impairment. According to anecdotes, and in some circumstances scientific research, other elements of the cannabis plant—like CBD—can lessen these side effects and permit this dose to be tolerated.

The interaction amongst the two most important cannabinoids, THC and CBD, is comparatively nicely understood via years of animal and human research. Nonetheless, CBD is unlikely to be accountable for the wide array of effects reported for cannabis. So what else could be accountable for the properties that folks have attributed to unique strains (e.g., uplifting, sedating, inventive, or relaxing)?

The principal suspect for a strain’s reported effects is terpenes.

The entourage impact of terpenes

Terpenes are the molecules that give cannabis and other plants their exclusive aromas. They typically have an impact on the brain, at least in animal research. Their levels in cannabis also differ extensively, producing them fantastic candidates for explaining why 1 strain may well really feel incredibly unique from an additional.

You need to take into consideration most of what you study about the terpene entourage effects to be untested hypotheses rather than established scientific details. The reality is that their interactions with THC are virtually unstudied in humans. Some research of terpenes have been performed in animals, but typically at extremely higher doses which do not translate to the quantity ordinarily consumed from cannabis.

There are thousands of anecdotes about unique strains, but we can’t very easily use these to identify the impact of a precise terpene. The complicated mixtures of terpenes in cannabis make it tough to pin down a precise impact on a precise element. Hardly anyone knew the terpene profile of the cannabis they had been consuming till not too long ago.

Cannabis legalization has improved the reputation of terpene testing, and now several folks are in a position to access the terpene profiles of their cannabis. Nonetheless, devoid of strong information on the effects of unique terpenes in humans, these profiles are tough to interpret.

Limonene’s function in the entourage impact

1 terpene of distinct interest is referred to as limonene. This terpene, popularly linked with citrus aromas, has some exclusive properties. Anecdotally, it is reported to impact mood a 2019 study in humans showed that inhalation of limonene odor lowered heart price.

Tahoe OG Kush is an instance of a strain with higher levels of limonene (yellow).

In reality, limonene can function via a quantity of mechanisms in our brain. It is capable of interacting with a variety of neurotransmitter systems, like the adenosine method, GABA method and serotonin method. These systems handle several items, like alertness, mood, and considering.

So while there is some strong preliminary proof that limonene could interact with THC, we can never ever truly know till a clinical study is performed. Clinical research take dollars and the most important way to get this dollars is via government grants. Till not too long ago, it seemed incredibly unlikely that the government would fund analysis into cannabinoid-terpene interactions.

Clinical research on limonene &amp the entourage impact

Occasions are altering. Terpene entourage effects are lastly about to be place to the test.

Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, has obtained a grant from the National Institutes of Wellness (NIH) for 3 clinical trials of cannabinoid-terpene interactions. This appears to show that the NIH is now additional disposed to funding research associated to cannabinoids.

The very first clinical trial will assess how limonene modulates the effects of THC.

This study will use the solutions of 20 healthful adult participants, who will pay a visit to a analysis unit on quite a few unique occasions. On every pay a visit to, they will consume (by means of a vaporizer) either an inactive placebo, limonene alone, THC alone, or the mixture of THC and limonene.

For the reason that two unique dose levels of THC (15 and 30 mg) and limonene (1 and five mg) will be tested in addition to placebos, participants will essentially do nine unique treks to the laboratory, producing this 1 of the most extensive research of its variety to date.

How do this study’s limonene ratios evaluate to strains?

This study is incredibly nicely made, but 1 factor I had to query was irrespective of whether the levels of THC and limonene correspond to actual terpene profiles of offered strains. For instance, is there an current strain that essentially has five mg limonene for each and every 15 mg THC? To answer this, I turned to Leafly’s strain database.

This chart shows the typical levels of limonene in unique cannabis strains on Leafly. Most flower includes trace amounts of limonene (beneath .two% by weight). Extremely couple of flower items express a greater limonene content material (more than .eight% by weight). (Leafly)

This plot shows the distribution of limonene content material in unique cannabis flower items. We can see that several items have incredibly tiny limonene (much less than .two% by weight). Only a couple of items have a higher level of limonene (above .eight%). These items provide about eight to 10 mg of limonene per gram of cannabis.

We subsequent looked at the ratios of THC to limonene in unique strains. The highest ratio of THC to limonene in the clinical study is 30:1 (30 mg THC to 1 mg limonene). A couple of came close, with Banana OG supplying a match:

The other ratios becoming tested are basically not offered in THC-dominant strains. To accomplish these ratios, the lowest of which is three:1 (15 mg THC to five mg limonene), you would will need to supplement with added limonene. (This essentially wouldn’t be as well really hard provided that limonene is present in so several popular foods!)

Regardless of whether or not you are in a position to replicate these precise ratios in your personal cannabis routine, this study will undoubtedly add crucial findings about how terpenes and cannabinoids interact in our bodies, bringing us that substantially closer to understanding which strains are most effective for our person demands.

Mike Tagen's Bio Image

Mike Tagen

Mike Tagen obtained his B.A. in neuroscience and Ph.D. in pharmacology. He has worked in clinical analysis and drug improvement for the previous 12 years, and is presently a consultant at Verdient Science.


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