There are thousands of different terpenes in existence that may help with different health conditions. We ask what terpenes are best for anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common emotions. It is a natural reaction to stress creating fear or apprehensive feeling about what might happen. While anxiety can happen to everyone from time to time, there are some people who struggle with strong feelings of anxiety every day.
Could terpenes found in cannabis or CBD may a part in anxiety-relief?
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the active aromatic molecules found in plants that cause smell and taste. Most people associate them with cannabis plants as they are high in concentration but there are other plants or fruits such as pine, lavender and lemon.
In nature, these terpenes protect the plants from animal grazing or infectious germs. Some terpenes play a protective role in helping the plant to recover from damage. Others can act as an immune system to keep away infectious diseases.
What terpenes help with anxiety?
Linalool is most commonly found in lavender. It may have the same benefits that CBD is associated with such as reducing anxiety, depression and sleep issues. This is why lavender is often associated with sleep. Linalool can also be found in geraniums, roses, chamomile and cannabis. It may also increase adenosine which is a sedating hormone that can help us to fall asleep.
One study on mice revealed that inhaled linalool may reduce anxiety, aggressiveness and increase social interaction. It showed anxiolytic properties (anti-anxiety properties) in light/dark tests. In higher doses of linalool, the mice showed decreased aggressiveness and increased social interaction however researchers noted impaired memory. They concluded that linalool essential oils may help with relaxation and decreased anxiety.
A study reported that linalool could potentially help to reduce sleep problems in dementia patients. During the study, 19 patients inhaled lavender before trying to fall asleep for 20 days. The patients reported better, longer sleep on the days where they inhaled the lavender than when they did not.
Limonene is often found in citrus fruits or plants such as oranges or lemons. It is especially strong in oranges as it makes up 97 per cent of the rind. Limonene is often used for a variety of different items such as cleaning or beauty products due to its antibacterial properties.
It is thought to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, disease-preventing properties. It’s the potential anti-stress properties that make it a great terpene for anxiety in particular. It is also the third most common terpene found in cannabis plants and the second most common terpene found in nature. In cannabis, the terpene is produced in the flower’s resin glands. Although certain strands may be higher than others in limonene, it is usually found in trace amounts of less than 0.2 per cent.
It isn’t just found in citrus fruits, limonene is also present in mint, juniper, rosemary, pine, and fennel.
A study involving an elevated maze model of rats with anxiety suggest it may help as an anti-stress agent when used in aromatherapy.
In another recent study, mice were injected with saline in a control group and limonene in a test group before their behaviour was assessed. The mice showed increased locomotor activity and open-arm preference in the elevated plus-maze experiment. The mice given limonene showed increased expression of proteins and significantly upregulated dopamine levels in the striatum. The striatum contains brain activity related to movements and rewards.
Inhalation of limonene vapour may also increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for stabilising our moods, while dopamine sends signals to the brain that affect mood, sleep, memory, learning and concentration.
Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. It is thought to have sedative and calming effects which could make it a great choice for anxiety. It is usually found in lemongrass, thyme or hops and has a peppery or spicy scent.
One study revealed that myrcene given in large doses may have muscle relaxant effects on mice. The amount of time the mice spent asleep was increased when used along with tablets that have sedative effects.
One thing to watch out for is that it is synergistic with THC. This means that those using THC may experience stronger ‘high-like’ effects when combining both. This is potentially why there are concerns that myrcene may cause anxiety.
Pinene is often associated with feelings of calm. This may be because it is a bronchodilator that opens up the lungs to allow more oxygen which in turn is transmitted to the bloodstream and tissues. Deep breathing may in turn increase the relaxation felt as more oxygen hits the brain.
Alpha-pinene is also found in parsley, dill, basil, rosemary, and some varieties of citrus.
A study from 2019 showed that inhalation of alpha-pinene potentially reduced anxiety in mice. The mice were observed for dizocilpine (MK-801-) induced schizophrenia-like behavioural abnormalities including hyperactivity and anxiety.
The authors wrote: “These results suggest that α-pinene acts to reduce MK-801-induced behavioural abnormalities resembling those seen in neuropsychiatric disorders. Therefore, both medicinal plants and essential oils containing α-pinene may have the potential for therapeutic treatment of schizophrenia.”
How do I take different terpenes?
There are different ways to take particular terpenes.
It comes down to personal preference when choosing a way to take terpenes. CBD and cannabis brands are now introducing terpene profiles into their products for different health needs.
Some people may prefer to add herbs or plants to their diet where possible such as rosemary, hops or dill. Others may choose vaping or oils.
Essential oils or cosmetic products containing both can also help if you are struggling with muscle pains or stiffness. Oil diffusers can also distribute the scent into the air to be inhaled. They can also be pressed into the temples or pressure points on the body to relieve stress or tension. Some people even add linalool (in lavender form) to their bed linen to get a good night’s sleep.
New research refutes ‘gateway drug’ fears over cannabis legalisation
Young adults consumed less alcohol, cigarettes and other substances following cannabis legalisation in Washington State.
Young adults consume less alcohol, cigarettes and other substances following cannabis legalisation, according to a new study.
A paper published earlier this month by researchers at the University of Washington, found that young people consumed less alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain medication, after cannabis was legalised for adult-use.
Researchers assessed trends in alcohol, nicotine, and non-prescribed pain reliever use among a cohort of over 12,500 young adults (ages 18 to 25) in Washington State following legalisation in 2012.
Contrary to concerns about the detrimental effects on wider society, according to the study, “the implementation of legalised non-medical cannabis coincided with decreases in alcohol and cigarette use and pain reliever misuse.”
The findings show that prevalence of alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking and cigarette use in the past month, as well as prevalence of past-year pain reliever misuse decreased.
While the prevalence of substance use other than cannabis was “higher among occasional and frequent cannabis users compared to cannabis non-users”, associations between cannabis and pain reliever misuse and heavy episodic drinking “weakened over time”.
However the team did find that the prevalence of past-month e-cigarette use had increased post-legalisation.
They concluded: “Our findings add to evidence that the legalisation of non-medical cannabis has not led to dramatic increases in the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and non-prescribed opioids.
“The findings indicate that the most critical public health concerns surrounding cannabis legalisation and the evolution of legalised cannabis markets may be specific to cannabis use and related consequences.”
Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Real-world data from legalisation states disputes longstanding claims that cannabis is some sort of ‘gateway’ substance. In fact, in many instances, cannabis regulation is associated with the decreased use of other substances, including many prescription medications.”
Cannabis legalisation in the UK
Cannabis legalisation is a hot topic in the UK at the moment, following London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s fact-finding trip to LA last week. He subsequently announced that he would be launching a review panel to explore the possibility of decriminalisation in the UK.
This has sparked debate among politicians, media personalities and the general public alike.
While Home Secretary Priti Patel shared her thoughts that cannabis can “ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives”, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse described it as an “entry level drug”.
And even Labour refused to get behind Khan, saying the party “does not support changing the law on drugs.”
But recent polling suggests the politicians may be out of touch with the public. YouGov polls show that more than half of Londoners support the mayor’s proposals.
Meanwhile a poll last year revealed that 52 per cent of the population either ‘strongly supported’ or ‘tended to support’ legalisation.
Medical cannabis in the mainstream – the top headlines this week
Get up to date on the week’s headlines.
This week the media has been dominated with responses to Sadiq Khan’s controversial fact-finding mission to LA and plans for cannabis decriminalisation.
Although stories of police raids and cannabis farm busts continue to make up the majority of major cannabis headlines, the mainstream media is increasingly covering new developments in the cannabis space, from policy to patient stories.
Over the past few days, MPs have been responding to Sadiq Khan’s controversial trip to LA cultivators and dispensaries, while the Daily Express reported on a new study about a cannabis-based product aiming to treat chronic pain. Here are the week’s five top cannabis headlines not to miss.
New study into cannabis for chronic pain
Daily Express spoke to the managing director of LVL Health, Tony Samios, about the company’s feasibility study which explores the effects of a cannabis-based product for chronic pain. The study will use cannabis flower in pre-filled cartridges and aims to build the data and evidence needed to improve patient access on the NHS.
Samios told the Express that the study is set to be a “game-changer in bridging the gap between evidence and making change using a rigorous scientific approach” providing “reliable data that is essentially missing”.
Sadiq Khan’s time would be “better spent focusing on knife and drug crime”, says Patel
Priti Patel made her thoughts on Sadiq Khan’s plan to consider cannabis legalisation in London clear in a Twitter post last week.
“Sadiq Khan’s time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London. The Mayor has no powers to legalise drugs. They ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives,” Patel said in the Tweet.
Her rebuke comes after Sadiq Khan’s recent trip to the US which included a fact-finding mission to LA to understand more about an international evidence-based approach to reducing drug-related harm in the capital. The London mayor also announced the launch of a new London Drugs Commission.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse expressed a similar view to Patel. Last week he told The Sun: “I find it baffling that just last week, the Mayor of London thought it appropriate to stage a photoshoot in a cannabis farm in LA, to reiterate his support for the legalisation of this entry level drug. I profoundly wish he would focus on knife crime and violence taking place in the capital instead.”
Khan initially made his plans clear last year prior to his re-election, saying that he would consider decriminalising cannabis in the capital if he were to be voted in as mayor for a second term.
The Labour party’s response to Khan’s cannabis plan
The party’s stance was made clear in a statement that stated: “Labour does not support changing the law on drugs. Drugs policy is not devolved to mayors and under Labour would continue to be set by national Government.”
HuffPost UK reported that a number of shadow cabinet members were “furious” at Khan’s comments, including Yvette Cooper. “Yvette is furious about it,” a Labour source told HuffPost UK. “People are just rolling their eyes because it definitely is not the official party line.”
Although it goes against his party’s official stance, Khan’s plan reflects data gathered by YouGov which has found that the majority of UK citizens are in support of cannabis legalisation.
Another source told the online outlet: “Sadiq has positioned himself as a progressive mayor on the side of the public prepared to take on the tough questions to genuinely tackle crime rather than pointless posturing that isn’t even popular anyway.”
Meanwhile, iNews reported that Labour MPs “let rip” in a private WhatsApp group. “This is going to go down like a bucket of cold sick in my bit of the suburbs just now… Crime up, police numbers still way below where people think they should be, so Labour is going to have a chat about drugs… Inspired,” said Gareth Thomas, the Shadow International Trade minister.
Not all Labour MPs have responded negatively, however. The Daily Mail reported on Shadow Cabinet minister Ed Miliband’s response to Khan’s plans. Although he highlighted that Khan did not reflect the Party’s position, he said Labour “welcome[s] Sadiq looking at these issues because this debate should carry on”.
“Cannabis ruins lives and legalising it won’t help”
In response to Sadiq Khan’s US visit, journalist and campaigner Louise Perry offered her opinion in an article for the London Evening Standard. While she said she would be “happy” to see possession of small amounts of cannabis made legal, but added that legalising the cannabis industry is “another matter entirely”.
The article is unlikely to sit well with cannabis campaigners and advocates thanks to its comparison between cannabis and tobacco, a focus on the dangers of psychosis and the lack of attention given to studies showing the positive effects of cannabis on health and wellbeing.
“Industries employ lobbyists to disguise the harmful effects of the products they sell,” Perry writes. “This has happened many times before.
“By the early 50s, the scientific evidence was clear: tobacco was killing people. And yet it would be 20 years until warning signs appeared on the side of cigarette packets sold in the UK. This tardiness was the result of lobbying by the tobacco industry, which opposed health authorities every step of the way.”
Patient faces dispute with council over housing
A man living in Norwich who holds a private cannabis prescription says he is facing difficulties finding a new place to live after being told by the city council to disclose his indoor cannabis use to landlords.
As reported by Norwich Evening News, Danny Wilson is prescribed legal cannabis by TMCC Medical Clinic for chronic pain, ADHD and anxiety. Wilson – who is currently on universal credit and personal independence payments due to his condition – pays between £700 and £1,000 per month for his medication.
Mr Wilson said: “I’ve repeatedly told them forcing me to go around approaching landlords and agents this way is causing me trauma but they ignored me.”
Despite never having being in prison, the city council offered him a place at House of Genesis, a rehoming initiative for ex-offenders.
Medical cannabis in the mainstream – the UK’s top stories
All your cannabis news in one place
There has been a mix of cannabis-related stories in the media over the past week. In case you missed them, we’ve compiled some of the headlines.
This week, news outlets such as The Guardian and The Telegraph have reported on UK medical cannabis labs, cannabis use for fibromyalgia and a rise in drug-driving cases amongst medical consumers.
Inside one of the UK’s first medical cannabis labs
The Guardian’s Julia Kollewe visited a growing lab owned by Celadon Pharmaceuticals, one of the first cultivation sites to be granted a home office licence to grow high-THC medical cannabis in the UK. The site is based in the West Midlands and grows cannabis predominantly for chronic pain. It is one of the only cannabis cultivators in the country to use an indoor lab rather than greenhouses.
According to The Guardian, Celadon is planning to ramp up production, aiming to grow 10 to 15 tonnes a year and supply up to 50,000 patients. At full capacity, the lab could generate £90m in annual revenues.
Founder James Short said: “I speak to patients on a regular basis who can’t work and are in terrible pain each day, that don’t want to be on opioids. Some are having to pay hundreds of pounds each month for medicinal cannabis. It really does work.”
“Massive injustice” – medical cannabis patients facing driving offences
In a less positive story, The Telegraph reported that medicinal cannabis patients are increasingly being prosecuted for drug driving with arrests reportedly doubling in the last four years.
Those taking cannabis may face a positive result in police roadside testing up to 72 hours after taking the drug. Although studies have shown driving capabilities are not impaired after this length of time, patients still face prosecution.
Since 2016, arrests linked with drug driving have increased by 140 per cent, according to police figures obtained by The Telegraph.
But while medical cannabis patients are at risk of arrest, those taking opiate-based prescription drugs are permitted to drive even if they are over the lawful limit, provided they follow their doctor’s advice.
The Telegraph spoke to one patient, David Dancy, who was being prosecuted for drug driving despite the fact he had taken his prescription 12 hours prior to getting in his car. The 33-year-old said the prosecution is “a massive injustice”.
Fibromyalgia and arthritis patient on how cannabis changed her life
Andrea Wright, a medical cannabis patient from Bristol, spoke to The Guardian about her ongoing battle with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. The 39-year-old was diagnosed in 2016, suffering from constant pain and severe lack of sleep. She eventually was forced to leave her job due to her ill health.
“I had to stop work because the pain was too much. It’s been very depressing; I really enjoyed my job. I tried so many different therapies and managed to get my arthritis under control but for fibromyalgia, there isn’t anything, no magical pill,” Wright told The Guardian.
After trying medical cannabis as part of a study run by LVL Health, she found she was able to get her first “proper night’s sleep” since 2012. She is now back at work and now aiming to reduce her reliance on opioid painkillers.
300 campaigners march through streets of Cardiff
Campaigners calling for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK marched through Cardiff city centre this weekend, WalesOnline reported on Saturday (7 May). This was the first protest to take place in Wales since before the pandemic.
The march was organised by Terry Wakefield, who has been involved in cannabis campaigning since 1999. She told WalesOnline that the stigma surrounding cannabis was pushing the trade further underground.
“Cannabis is my medicine. I suffer complex PTSD and this march might sometimes be the only time I’m outside,” she said. “If I was in a position where I could go to my GP and ask for a prescription I would do.
“If we are able to consume cannabis in the UK then we should have a right to grow our own. The more this stays illegal the more it will be pushed underground and the more gangs and slaves in Britain.”
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