[Canniseur: Science is starting to accrue little bits of data about terpenes and their effects. We don’t know a lot about the entourage effect of how terpenes interact with THC, CBD, and all the other cannabinoid compounds in cannabis.]
Few cannabis consumers are fully aware of the complex molecular chemistry of the herb they vaporize, smoke, or eat. Terpenes like terpinolene are the aromatic molecules responsible for the sometimes revealingly pungent aroma of many strains of cannabis. Although the chief purpose of this family of chemicals is an evolutionary defense mechanism against pests and predators, terpenes have been found to deliver medicinal efficacy that equals that of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. More than 20,000 terpenes exist throughout nature, about 200 of which have been identified in various strains of cannabis. Terpinolene (sometimes denoted as “TPO”) is considered a minor, or secondary, terpene and features an aroma resembling sweet pine. It delivers a taste reminiscent of citrus and is produced in many plants in nature other than cannabis, including allspice, cumin, junipers, parsnip, rosemary, sage, and tea tree.
The Details of Terpinolene
In terms of medicinal efficacy, terpinolene kills cancer cells and acts as a sedative. In addition, it displays antibacterial properties and is both an anti-fungal and an anti-oxidant. It is employed as a flavoring agent by various segments of the food industry. It is also used to manufacture plastics and resins and is an effective repellent against pests such as mosquitoes and weevils. A 2013 study found this special molecule to be a powerful anti-cancer agent. Concluded the study’s researchers, “Our findings clearly demonstrate that terpinolene is a potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumour cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent, which needs to be further studied.”
A 2013 study entitled “Anticancer and Antioxidant Properties of Terpinolene” that was published in the journal Arh Hig Rada Toksikol found terpinolene to be a “potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumour cells” and surmised that this powerfully medicinal terpene “may have potential as an anticancer agent,” an issue in obvious need of further research due to the 91 million people worldwide who suffer more than 100 types of cancers. The researchers concluded, “Our findings clearly demonstrate that terpinolene is a potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumor cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent, which needs to be further studied.” A 2012 study entitled “Terpinolene, a Component of Herbal Sage, Downregulates AKT1 Expression in K562 Cells” and published in the journal Oncology Letters found the terpene terpinolene to be an effective agent in the battle against a variety of cancers. Concluded the study’s researchers, “Increased expression and/or activation of AKT is involved in a variety of human cancers. In cells treated with sage or rosemary extract, mRNA and protein expression levels of AKT1 were reduced compared with those of the control cells 48 hours after the herbal treatments. We found that terpinolene, a common component of sage and rosemary, markedly reduced the protein expression of AKT1 in K562 cells and inhibited cell proliferation.”
Original Post: Cannabis Aficionado: Terpinolene: The Powerful Medicinal Terpene That Battles Cancer
[Editor’s Note: THCA, the non-psychoactive cousin to THC, seems an incredible answer for reducing inflammation from a variety of diseases. Learn how and why.]
The cannabis herb contains hundreds of special medicinal chemicals that fall into several categories, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Among the cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the infamous molecule responsible for most of the psychoactive effect and euphoria delivered by this controversial plant that is also, technically, a vegetable.
What is not readily apparent to many cannabis consumers is the fact that the flowers they purchase at their local dispensary or grow in their backyard contain none of the highly therapeutic and coveted chemical called THC. Yet, when burned or vaporized, the flowers produce smoke or vapor containing this molecule. The THC is absorbed by the lungs in 2-3 ms and travels directly to the heart, where it is pumped north to the brain, allowed to cross the extremely selective blood-brain barrier, and binds with CB1 receptors in the brain to produce euphoria — a total process requiring approximately 2.5 minutes.
How can cannabis flowers containing absolutely no THC deliver the very same molecule to specialized receptors in the human brain and central nervous system? This occurs via a process called decarboxylation, during which the non-psychoactive chemical cousin to THC, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), undergoes a molecular metamorphosis to lose two oxygen atoms and transmogrify into an element with a different binding affinity with the specialized receptors of the human endocannabinoid system. This modified binding affinity is just enough to produce the markedly different efficacy of THC versus THCA.
The Details of THCA
According to Steep Hill Labs in Berkeley, California, “THCA is the most abundant cannabinoid in the vast majority of cannabis grown in the U.S.” This highly medicinal molecule is strongly anti-inflammatory, increases appetite, is anti-tumor, combats insomnia, and is antispasmodic. THCA can reach levels of greater than 30 percent of the dry weight of unpollinated (sensimilla) female flowers.
A helpful mental model is to think of THCA as the pre-stage caterpillar that becomes the butterfly called THC. THCA also breaks down into THC via chemical processes other than decarboxylation, including oxidation and simple exposure to light.
Many in the patient community juice the leaves of cannabis plants in a strategic effort to collect as much THCA as possible. Some claim to have gained significant benefits from the regular consumption of THCA for conditions ranging from chronic pain to depression to social anxiety to fibromyalgia.
The anti-inflammatory properties of THCA are helpful in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis and lupus. The neuroprotective properties of this element of the cannabis plant are helpful in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, while its anti-emetic characteristics treat the nausea and appetite loss associated with conditions such as cancer (chemotherapy) and Crohn’s disease. The antiproliferative properties of THCA have been noted in studies of prostate cancer, insomnia, muscle spasms, and pain.
A 2013 study entitled “Analysis of Cannabis Seizures in NSW, Australia: Cannabis Potency and Cannabinoid Profile” and published in the journal PLOS ONE concluded that “The non-psychoactive THC-A content of plants is of increasing interest given its potential medicinal and neuroprotective properties . A recent trend towards “juicing” cannabis plant material for consumption is aimed at maximising THC-A intake, while minimising the intoxicating effects of THC.”
Original Post: Cannabis Aficionado: THCA: The Highly Medicinal, Non-Psychotropic Cannabinoid
[Editor’s Note: As the research begins to accumulate, we’re finding out how the myriad of interlinking parts of cannabis go together. One day we’ll understand the plant.]
The cannabis herb produces literally hundreds of different chemicals, many of which have been proven to offer significant health benefits to humans, including the ability to shrink cancerous tumors, reduce pain, and even reduce or eliminate the seizures associated with conditions such as epilepsy.
113 cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis since 1964 when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in Israel first discovered what has proven to be a set of very medicinal and beneficial molecules in the lives of humans.
When Mechoulam discovered cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for most of the psychoactive effect and euphoria delivered by cannabis, he also uncovered the hidden mechanism by which these molecules interact with the human body, called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). To the amazement of many cannabis consumers, all mammals feature an ECS, meaning that cannabinoids have efficacy for common pets, such as cats, dogs, and even hamsters.
The ECS modulates and regulates a wide variety of physiological and cognitive processes including appetite, fertility, pain-sensation, pregnancy, memory, and mood. The theory of endocannabinoid deficiency asserts that modern life, including poor diet, lack of exercise, environmental stressors, and pollution lead to problems in the ECS that result in major diseases such as cancer, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, depression, and social anxiety.
The Details on CBGV
One of the most beneficial medicinal cannabinoids offered by the cannabis herb is cannabigerivarin (CBGV), a derivative of cannabigerol (CBG), a molecule that has been described as the “mother of all cannabinoids” due to its role as the molecular source of all other cannabinoids — including THC and cannabidiol (CBD).
Like most cannabinoids, CBGV produces no psychoactive effects when ingested or inhaled. Researchers theorize that it may boost the ability of the cellular receptors in the ECS to more readily bind with THC molecules. Some researchers believe that CBGV also boosts CBD metabolism within the body, making CBD more potent when paired with this cannabinoid.
CBGV has been found to display analgesic (painkilling) and anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective for conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. Although many cannabinoids have been found to improve the quality of skin or combat diseases of the epidermis, CBGV features the relatively unique characteristic of improving and sometimes cure dry-skin conditions.
Like other cannabinoids, CBGV provides great promise in cancer treatment, especially for those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Clinical research has observed CBGV to be cytostatic in leukemic cells, meaning that it inhibits the growth and division of these cancer cells.
A 2013 research study conducted in London, England and entitled “Non-hallucinogenic Cannabinoids are Effective Anti-cancer Drugs” that was published in the journal Anticancer Research demonstrated the cancer-fighting properties (in this case, for leukemia) of six cannabinoids: Two forms of cannabidiol (CBD), two forms of CBG, and two forms of CBGV.
Concluded the study’s researchers, “These agents are able to interfere with the development of cancerous cells, stopping them in their tracks and preventing them from growing. In some cases, by using specific dosage patterns, they can destroy cancer cells on their own. Significantly, these compounds are inexpensive to produce could result in much more cost effective anti-cancer drugs in future.”
Original Post: Cannabis Aficionado: CBGV: The Cannabinoid That Increases the Effects of Medical Marijuana
[Editor’s Note: Linalool is one of the 50 or 60 terpenes found in various strains of cannabis. There’s real research on linalool and that’s important. However, we need research on the effect of linalool combined with all the THCs in cannabis plants.]
Linalool is one of 200 terpenes produced by thousands of plants in nature, including the cannabis herb. Considered a major (primary) terpene, this special molecule offers medicinal efficacy to not only humans but all mammals. Without this particular terpene, there would be no scent of lavender.
For years, terpenes were considered to add little more than a revealingly pungent odor to the smoked flowers or the cannabis herb (which is, technically, also a vegetable). Both research and anecdotal evidence have revealed, however, that terpenes offer considerable benefits for human health and wellness, including their aggregate ability to deliver three primary efficacies: Anti-inflammation, analgesia (painkilling), and anti-cancer.
The linalool terpene of cannabis, which provides a floral, herbal, sweet scent, is also produced by numerous fruits. This terpene is commonly used in aromatherapy and meditation to induce relaxation and relieve stress. Like limonene, it is employed as an industrial pesticide against mosquitoes and roaches. Beyond its role as a major terpene in cannabis, linalool is produced by basil, bay leaf, fungi (some varieties), and lavender.
The Details on Linalool
Similar to all major terpenes found in cannabis, linalool provides many benefits to lifestyle users and patients alike. It acts as an anti-inflammatory (a characteristic of nearly all terpenes), is an analgesic, anti-depressant, and anti-convulsant (helpful for those with seizure disorders, such as epilepsy and Dravet Syndrome). Like myrcene, linalool is also a sedative.
Due to its analgesic properties, linalool is used as a treatment following gastric band surgery. One study revealed that this molecule, when inhaled, resulted in study participants consuming significantly less morphine to treat their pain.
The three most promising applications of this terpene are its role as an anti-cancer agent, its ability to prevent seizures, and its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. Multiple studies have proven it to possess anti-cancer properties, most notably for liver cancer and lymphoma.
A study conducted in 2010 entitled “Anticonvulsant Activity of the Linalool Enantiomers” and published in the journal Natural Product Communications revealed that linalool is an effective anti-convulsant and that “Pretreatment of mice with linalool increased the latency of convulsions significantly.”
A 2008 study entitled “Antiproliferative Effects of Essential Oils and Their Major Constituents in Human Renal Adenocarcinoma” that was published in the journal Cell Proliferation found it to be an effective agent in fighting liver cancer. The study concluded, “Three identified terpenes, linalool, beta-caryophyllene and alpha-cedrol, were found to be active on both cell lines tested.”
A 2003 study entitled “Antileukemic Activity of Selected Natural Products in Taiwan” and published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine studied six “chemical classes of pure compounds present in commonly used medicinal plants.”
The study’s researchers concluded, “Water insoluble compounds, such as triterpenoids (oleanolic acid and ursolic acid), monoterpenes (linalool), and flavonoids (luteolin) possessed strong activity against human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines. Among them, linalool showed the strongest activity against histiocytic lymphoma cells.”
Original Post: Cannabis Aficionado: Linalool: The Fragrant, Analgesiac Terpene That Relieves Stress
[Editor’s Note: For cannabis nerds & geeks: This is a great overview of cannabinoids and how they works in our bodies. There’s so much we don’t know, but here’s what we do know…]
The cannabis plant produces literally hundreds of specialized molecules — cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — that have been shown to deliver medicinal efficacy, lifestyle enhancement, and even performance enhancement to human beings. For those afflicted with disease, medical cannabis has been found to offer a wide range of health benefits, from killing cancerous tumors to alleviating the pain of arthritis to reducing the number of seizures experienced by epileptic children.
Of these molecules, cannabinoids are the most cited and understood. The most infamous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the molecule responsible for most of the psychoactive (psychotropic) and euphoric effects of cannabis, but that also has been found to successfully treat serious conditions, such as PTSD and cancer. Another notable cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD), a mostly non-psychoactive chemical that has been found to provide a wide range of medicinal benefits, including reductions in pain, anxiety, and depression.
Endocannabinoids vs. Phytocannabinoids
First discovered in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam, phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant interact with the human body by mimicking the molecular characteristics of chemicals produced internally. Called endocannabinoids, these internally manufactured molecules include anandamide and 2-AG.
Anandamide has been dubbed the “bliss molecule” because of its ability to decrease depression in humans. It plays a central role in the regulation and modulation of critical bodily functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, immune system efficiency, and one’s ability to deal with stress and anxiety.
Synthetic cannabinoids emerged in the 1970s and are created in a laboratory. An example of it would be dronabinol (Δ9-THC synthetic), which is the active compound of Marinol, a medicine that comes in capsules and has been consumed in the US since 1985 to prevent nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and loss of weight.
The Endocannabinoid System
All mammals, not merely humans, have evolved with a network of specialized cellular receptors throughout their bodies that are designed to bind with cannabinoids — both endocannabinoids such as anandamide and phytocannabinoids from cannabis — that is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The fact that the ECS is present in all mammals is why companies and product lines dedicated to the health and wellness of household pets are beginning to emerge in legal cannabis markets. Dogs and cats suffering conditions such as arthritis, digestive issues, anxiety, and pain can gain significant benefit from the cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp.
Anandamide production has been found to increase and temporarily spike in those who engage in endurance exercise on a regular basis. However, it metabolizes quickly, exhibiting a relatively short duration of effect. Anandamide hints at the chemical underpinnings of the significant health benefits of frequent and intense exercise—and the fact that the mere consumption of cannabinoids is not enough to establish and sustain optimal health of the ECS (a condition called homeostasis that means “balance”).
Both internally produced endocannabinoids and plant-based phytocannabinoids interface with the ECS via specialized cellular receptors that were discovered in the 1990s and called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are located primarily in the organs and tissues of the immune system—including the thymus, skin, bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, bowel, and the mucous membranes of the bladder, genitals, nose, and throat.
Major Cannabinoids + Acidic Precursors
More than 113 cannabinoids have been isolated and identified within the cannabis plant — which is, technically, also a vegetable. Beyond the two major cannabis-derived molecules, THC and CBD, are a plethora of healthful cannabinoids that deliver a slew of desirable and beneficial efficacies for lifestyle consumers and patients alike. Among these are cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
Additional healthful cannabinoids include tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). These chemicals represent a class of cannabinoids dubbed acidic precursors. Think of acidic precursors as the larval caterpillar stage of what becomes the butterflies of THC and CBD.
While they provide significant benefits in terms of health and wellness, the exact effects of these molecules differ from their non-acidic versions. For example, while strains of cannabis that are potent in THC can exact a significant toll in terms of psychoactivity and euphoria, THCA delivers no such psychotropic effect. THCA does, however, offer anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, making it helpful for conditions as wide-ranging as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.
The process by which the transmogrification from the chemical state of acidic precursor (THCA) to its child molecule (THC) occurs is significant (and can be accurately controlled by anyone). A process called decarboxylation, this conversion involves the application of heat (via flame, as in combustion, or from a hot surface or airstream, as in vaporization) to catalyze a chemical reaction in which the THCA molecule drops a carbon and two oxygen atoms (called a carboxyl ring, or COOH) to become THC — and gain its euphoric effects based on its newfound binding affinity with the CB1 receptors of the ECS.
Technically, maximum decarboxylation for a sample of cannabis flowers occurs most effectively when exposed to 220 degrees F (104 degrees C) for a period of 30 to 45 minutes. Decarboxylation is easy and convenient because it can be accomplished using a standard consumer oven.
Thus, one who eats the raw flowers of cannabis will gain significant medicinal benefits, but no euphoria. The simple application of a flame or hot air, however, leads to the nearly instantaneous transformation of these molecules into their chemical cousins, delivering beneficial — but sometimes very different — effects.
A 2017 research study entitled “Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, and Implications for the Acute Care Setting” that was published in the journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics found the cannabinoids of cannabis, such as THC and CBD, to be effective in the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions.
The study’s researchers stated, the “Beneficial cannabinoids exist, as evidenced by single-entity agents derived from cannabis containing the compounds THC and CBD.” The study concluded that “cannabis is relatively safe; therapy is self-titratable by the patient; and…therapy is relatively inexpensive compared with pharmaceutical agents.”
CBC is a powerful cannabinoid first isolated in 1964 by Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam. It is considered one of the “big six” cannabinoids that, according to Steep Hill Labs in Berkeley, California, is ten times more effective than CBD in treating anxiety and stress.
In a 2011 study conducted by cannabis research pioneer Ethan Russo entitled “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects” and published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, Russo found that a CBC-extract displayed “pronounced antidepressant effect,” meaning it may be helpful for humans suffering from anxiety and depression.
Additional evidence of the medical benefits of cannabinoids derived from cannabis — this time for an ocular disease — was revealed in a 2008 study entitled “Possibilities of Applying Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Glaucoma” that was published in the journal Klinika Oczna. The study concluded that cannabinoids like CBG are “able to decrease intraocular pressure. These compounds are characterized by neuroprotection and vasodilatation properties that additionally substantiate their therapeutic utility in conservative treatment of glaucoma.”
Original Post: Cannabis Aficionado: Up Close and Personal with the Science Behind Cannabinoids