When I first started experimenting with medicinal cannabis a few years ago it was much simpler: indica or sativa was all you needed to know. Fast forward to 2020 and scientists have identified more than 200 terpenes in cannabis!
Terpenes are the “fragrant, essential oils that lend aromatic profiles to cannabis products” (source: Hexo). The most common cannabis terpenes are shown in the chart below.
As I noted in my last post, we are a long way from understanding how all the components of cannabis work in our bodies. Some research indicates beneficial effects may be due to the interaction of different plant compounds and not one specific component (an entourage effect). Similarly, there is evidence showing that a combination of THC and CBD is better than either cannabidiol alone. Think of it like this: you can get Vitamin C in a pill, but an orange provides more health benefits, and an organic orange even more.
Terpenes have a history of use in wellness through essential oils and herbal remedies. In cannabis research and general wellness research, the terpene linalool, for example, has been shown to have an anxiolytic effect. Linalool is found in lavender essential oil and in food, like blueberries. It follows that the cannabis strain “Blueberry” also contains this terpene, as do “Purple Kush” strains.
Referring to the cannabis industry chart above, you can see the 3 terpenes you may want to try for anxiety symptoms are myrcene, linalool and limonene. For depression, limonene and pinene are often recommended. Some medical cannabis users, myself included, can be sensitive to the uplifting effect of pinene, resulting in an increase in anxiety.
You can look up the terpene profile of a particular strain online. An example of the profile for Purple Kush can be found here: notice how the user rating is much closer to calming than energizing? This strain of cannabis indica should be calming for most people. However, if you suffer from panic attacks, as I do, you definitely need to consult a physician before adding cannabis to your treatment plan (more about this is my last blog).
In my quest to find an effective anxiolytic to replace the unhealthy benzodiazepines, I experienced many setbacks. I had THC-induced panic attacks, exacerbated by withdrawal from the benzos. I also found significant relief from CBD oils. I have been consistently using CBD oils and sublingual sprays for about 2 years. I supplement this with vaping THC/CBD hybrids to help with insomnia. The approach I use is called microdosing: using very small amounts spaced throughout the day. You often see this expressed as “start low and go slow.”
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Peace & Progress