Terpenes (general)

Terpenes and Inflammation

Written by Cara Wietstock

Inflammation is a problem with many people in the world, terpenes may shed light on the answer.

As new products begin to line the shelves of dispensaries we are starting to see how terpenes can shape the cannabis market as we know it. Terpenes are added to vapor cartridges for added flavor. They’re used to reconstruct strain profiles which can then be added back into oils that may have been stripped of these compounds while going through the extraction process. Terpenes can also be added for possible therapeutic benefits, more specifically, they could prove valuable in unlocking treatment for inflammation.

Inflammation is cited as the cause of most discomfort for patients who are diagnosed with a variety of conditions. The biochemical processes of inflammation are controlled by gene expression and complex signaling. Nuclear factor-kB (NF-kb) controls transcription the parts of our DNA that relate to dealing with septic shock, cancer, inflammation, and immune disease. This is why many consider the protein complex to be a major regulator of the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases. In patients with unwanted inflammation, this protein group is generally overactive, producing unnecessary inflammation response. This is why pharmaceutical researchers are looking for a way to lower NF-kb levels without causing unwanted side-effects.

Some terpenes have actually shown to have inflammatory relief properties. Myrcene has proven to reduce the force of NF-kb over-expression. Similarly, Alpha-pinene can inhibit the movement of NF-kb into some cells, reducing excess inflammation. Furthermore, research on beta-caryophyllene implies that it can reduce inflammation of the bowel. These three terpenes, not surprisingly, are commonly found in cannabis cultivars that are well known for relieving pain.

Despite these minor breakthroughs we still don’t know what pathways are leading to NF-kb suppression. Though we have learned much more about chemical changes in the body that flag inflammation. Yet we have still not been able to locate the target molecule upstream. With more research, some believe that terpenes could be a tool in helping us understand the mechanism of NF-kb suppression.

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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