The Best Cannabis Terpenes for Anxiety cannabis

The Best Cannabis Terpenes for Anxiety

Anxiety. We all experience it on occasion as part of normal daily life. But some people who live with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations – onset of episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). This article will talk about terpenes for anxiety.

Many people use cannabis to help manage anxiety, as it has been linked to a decrease in negative symptoms. Recently, military veterans have also shown strong support for access to medical marijuana.

Cannabidiol (CBD) was previously thought to be the only or main contributing compound to this effect, but further exploration of cannabis’ other constituents indicates that cannabis compounds such as terpenes may also have the advantage of anxiety reduction for some people and are being explored for anti-anxiety purposes.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are a chemical compound with a shared ratio of carbon and hydrogen atoms. They are widespread in plants and some animal species, with over 30,000 identified as naturally occurring. Terpenes are noted for their ability to produce specific aromas and tastes, including the smell of lavender and pine trees or their derivatives like turpentine.

In cannabis, over 400 terpenes have been discovered. They benefit the plant by producing an unappealing taste and smell for attacking species, which is why they are concentrated in external structures called trichomes. Terpenes have been historically overlooked in favor of major cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), although this has changed recently as research is emerging to suggest potential benefits of their consumption.

How do terpenes interact with the body?

Some terpenes, including limonene and caryophyllene, have been observed to interact with a specific set of cell signals known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is mainly recognized for its interactions with CBD and THC, and it affects high-level body processes including memory, sleep, motor control, appetite, and mood. This is particularly relevant for anxiety, as the ECS has a significant number of receptors in the brain, mainly of the CB1R type.

Other terpenes interact with physiological systems, where they are linked to reduced pain and inflammation in the body. There is evidence for other mental benefits as well, including partial symptom relief for conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, and epilepsy.

No individual terpene has been identified as having all of these effects. Instead, a combination of them has been suggested to produce these outcomes, which has been extended to anxiety symptoms, as well.

How do terpenes help anxiety?

Perhaps one of the most well-known portrayals of cannabis is as a method for relaxation, but why is this? CBD has been indicated as having anti-anxiety effects, but more recent research has shown that combining CBD with terpenes and other cannabis-sourced compounds produces more effective outcomes through the entourage effect. Supported by recent evidence, this theory proposes that combinations of cannabis compounds produce more intense effects than individual consumption.

Certain terpenes have been identified as potentially having anxiety-reducing properties. Caryophyllene, linalool, pinene, cadinene, and guaiol have varying amounts of evidence to support their anti-anxiety effects, with the first two demonstrating benefits in human trials against existing pharmaceuticals. Linalool and pinene have been found to work best when combined with other compounds, such as in lavender oil.

Interestingly, terpenes appear to affect different brain pathways than common treatments such as benzodiazepines, so they could be beneficial for patients who don’t respond well to other drugs.

What else can I do to reduce anxiety?

There are many ways to help reduce temporary feelings of anxiety, including those that can be done alongside the use of cannabis products. Removing yourself from the source of stress is often the first step to take, but actions such as meditation, breathing exercises, or a quick walk can all help to reduce anxiety.

You may also notice that there are certain experiences that cause you to feel anxious. This could be decreased by avoiding exposure to the situation, planning ahead to calm a racing mind, or reducing intake of stimulants like coffee and sugar.

It’s very difficult to avoid anxiety completely, but making an action plan to manage stressful situations as they arise can help to deal with anxiety in the short term.

What’s the best way to take terpenes for anxiety reduction?

Terpenes are found in just about every cannabis product type: flower, edibles, vapes, oils, tinctures, beverages and certain topicals. However, as many terpenes are known to be very sensitive to heat, it’s best to avoid heating them too long before you intend to consume them, as they may break down before they can be effective.

One of the most effective methods of consuming terpenes is sublingually (under the tongue) via tinctures or sublingual strips and tablets. This is beneficial, as it can absorb rapidly into the body, providing quick relief from symptoms without requiring high temperatures to ingest it. Additionally, sublingual products have a high bioavailability and accurate concentrations for working out specific dosages.

Heat-based methods such as vaping or smoking can be effective so long as they are inhaled shortly after heating to minimize terpene destruction. These methods also allow a high proportion of the cannabis compounds to be ingested into the body in a short amount of time, which could be beneficial for rapid symptom relief.

Oils or topical balms/lotions and, especially, patches may be useful for reducing side effects such as muscle tension, but typically do not reach the bloodstream (unless they are the transdermal type). This prevents them from interacting with the pathways involved in anxiety, so these products would not be ideal for improving feelings of anxiety.

What product types can they be found in?

Cannabis products are typically categorized based on the combinations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other cannabis compounds found in them, which can be useful to know when choosing terpenes for anxiety.

Full-spectrum products include all of the naturally occurring active compounds in cannabis. These aren’t designed specifically to help with anxiety but may still be useful as a starting point to see whether terpenes may be helpful for you.

Broad-spectrum products have a range of active components, but they specifically exclude THC. This allows them to take advantage of the entourage effect, and products containing terpenes with the aim of relieving anxiety are emerging into the market. If you’ve settled on one or more terpenes as being effective for you, a broad-spectrum product might be the way to go.

Isolate products contain only one cannabinoid, usually CBD or THC. These products won’t include any terpenes, so cannot take advantage of the entourage effect or any terpene-specific advantages.

Could terpenes make anxiety worse?

There doesn’t appear to be evidence of any specific terpenes associated with increased anxiety, but this doesn’t guarantee that neither of them will. It’s also important to check with your doctor before using cannabis-derived terpenes for anxiety, as some medications (anxiety-related or otherwise) may negatively interact with terpenes compounds.

Terpene products that also contain THC should be noted, as high concentrations of THC have been associated with increased anxiety for some people.

The bottom line

Whether you are suffering from general anxious feelings or an anxiety disorder, the desire to reduce these sensations can be overwhelming.

There is ongoing research to suggest that cannabis-derived terpenes such as pinene, caryophyllene, and linalool could be beneficial in managing these symptoms, but anxiety is a complex disorder.

Learn more about the benefits of medical marijuana here:

Find products to help you manage anxiety symptoms:

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