In 1996, California passed Proposition 215 which legalized the use of medical cannabis. Then, in 2017, the state finally legalized recreational marijuana as well. But federal research into the medical potential of cannabis is woefully underfunded. One unfortunate consequence of this is that it makes cannabis-based terpene research extremely difficult. Indeed, the the United States and the rest of the world have been slow to change their minds about cannabis. And yet, despite all of these legal obstacles, it’s never been a better time to be a researcher into terpenes. So today, we’re going to take a quick look as some of the most interesting developments on the terpene frontier.
The primary focus of most cannabis research is still cannabinoids - primarily THC and CBD. This makes sense, given how potent and widely applicable both of these compounds are. But as we learn more about the marijuana plant, we’ve discovered that terpenes aren’t simply the compounds responsible for taste and aroma. In fact, terpenes exert control over many of our biological functions. Terpene therapy is an entirely new branch of research that seeks to uncover the ways that we can harness the power of terpenes to treat some of the most well known illnesses.
As of the writing of this article, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has announced that it is launching an exploratory funding opportunity entitled “Exploring the Mechanisms Underlying Analgesic Properties of Minor Cannabinoids and Terpenes”. This cutting edge terpene research will focus on how cannabinoids and terpenes can be used to treat various pain conditions in medical patients. Of particular interest to us here at True Blue is the fact that this research will touch on some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis and in our products, including myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, and humulene.
The International Cannabinoid Research Society
As described above, the federal government is beginning to invest more and more funding into advancing our understanding of terpenes. But international research into this topic has been going on for decades under the auspices of the International Cannabinoid Research Society.
The logo for the the International Cannabinoid Research Society.
Incorporated in 1992, this organization has grown to over 650 members from around the world who specialize in cannabis research. In particular, it is responsible for some of the major work investigating how terpenes interact with cannabinoids to produce what’s called “the entourage effect" and the relationship between specific terpenes and the Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid strain classifications.
Terpenes & the Entourage Effect
When scientists began investigating the chemical makeup of marijuana, there was a conventional wisdom that it was the cannabinoids (THC and CBD) that were responsible for getting people high. But as our understanding has grown, scientists have become more aware of just how critical terpenes are to the effects of various strains. And this synergy of effects - that is cannabinoids and terpenes - has come to be known as the entourage effect. Some of the most recent scientific investigation has found that the entourage effect may be responsible for making cannabis effective in treating pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections.
A Walk In The Forest: Research Into The Terpene Effects of Japanese Cypress Oil
One of the most fascinating discoveries in terpene science is what’s called shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing” - a practice of medicinal aromatherapy that originated in Japan in the 80s. People found that by taking a simple walk through a cypress forest, they felt rejuvenated and healthier. While this may sound like a bunch of pseudoscience, there is actual real science to back it up.
Cypress trees produce essential oils that are used in many consumer-grade locations that treat cramps and muscle pulls, soothe dry skin, and relieve anxiety. In fact, a research article in the Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine found that forest bathing substantially increased the number of immune cells in the human body for up to 30 days.
Terpene Drops: The Future of Extraction
Given the broad application and ease of use, many weed shops, restaurants, and bars have begun to off terpene-infused products. Take a stroll around LA are you’re like to pass by coffee shops that offer terpene-infused kombucha and avant-garde bars that mix terpenes drops into their drinks. All this is to say that we highly recommend you check out our terpene products. You can mix them with cannabis concentrate or use them on their own. The choice is yours!