Terpenes (general)

Terpenes for Topical Application

Written by Cara Wietstock

The importance of terpenes in our cannabis flowers and extracts is paramount, but what about adding them to our topical products?

In Issue 4 of Terpenes and Testing magazine, we interviewed the owner of Halsa topicals. Halsa is a line of medical cannabis products that are utilizing terpenes extracted from the plant itself in their essential oil blends to treat symptoms of various conditions. This company uses proprietary blends of healing herbs in each of their intentional roll-on topical products and has patients boasting positive results. In this post, we want to explore the unique way that terpenes are absorbed in the skin.

There was one study published in Planta Med in March 2006 that studied the efficacy of five different terpenes as they absorbed into the skin’s layers through three types of mediums. Linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol, citronellol and alpha-pinene were applied to subjects in oily, hydrogel, and emulsion-based dermatological formulations. It was found that in pure essential oil form these compounds accumulated on the cutaneous layer. As such, the other formulations were found to facilitate better absorption.

The study also showed that linalyl acetate was not absorbed by any of the dermatological formulations while linalool was applicable with all three. Alpha-pinene and citronellol were better absorbed with a hydrogel than an oily solution. While this did show that topical terpene absorption is possible in all of the skin’s layers, it also showed that each terpene in unique in how they are best utilized in topical applications.

For those making beauty products at home, think about adding terpenes in the form of essential oils to lotions, bath salts, and even face washes to reap the healing benefits of the widely coveted aromatic compounds. As more patient trials and research emerge, more products containing terpenes will as well. Before purchasing a topical product because it says it contains terpenes be sure to check that the proper dermatological formulations are being used to receive optimal absorption.

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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