Cannabis, a complex botanical treasure trove, has piqued the interest of researchers worldwide. With over 100 unique cannabinoids and a plethora of plant terpenes, it’s a chemical matrix like no other. One question that has intrigued scientists is whether these compounds interact in our bodies and if these interactions could enhance the overarching effects of cannabis. This theory is known as the entourage effect.
While the entourage effect requires more research, a study from the University of Arizona Health Sciences (UAHS) adds substantial weight to its impact on the body. This study unveils the potential of terpenes to augment the pain-relieving properties of cannabinoids, opening the door to new possibilities in cannabis-based medicine.
What the Entourage Effect Study Says
The entourage effect suggests that various cannabis compounds interact synergistically, enhancing the overall therapeutic impact. Previous pre-clinical studies have hinted at its existence, but doubts remained. However, the UAHS study presents strong evidence in favor of this theory.
The researchers focused on terpenes, aromatic compounds found in cannabis and many other plants. Terpenes are known for their distinctive scents and flavors and have been long associated with cannabis’s unique fragrance. The study assessed the effects of four common terpenes and terpenoids – α-humulene, β-pinene, linalool, and geraniol – on behaviors mediated by the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, such as pain response, movement, catalepsy, and body temperature.
Administered individually to laboratory mice, these terpenes were found to reduce pain sensitivity independently and influence monitored behaviors. Significantly, these terpenes achieved these effects by activating the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, a primary target of cannabis compounds. The researchers expanded the study’s scope by examining the interaction of these terpenes with WIN55,212-2, a synthetic cannabinoid resembling THC, responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effects. The results were remarkable. When administered alongside WIN55,212-2, the terpenes produced a more pronounced reduction in pain sensation than the terpenes or WIN55,212-2 alone. This strongly suggests an additive entourage effect, where terpenes enhance the pain-relieving effects of cannabinoids beyond expectations.
Lead researcher Dr. John Streicher of the UAHS Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center commented, “It was unexpected, in a way. It was our initial hypothesis, but we didn’t necessarily expect terpenes, these simple compounds found in multiple plants, to produce cannabinoid-like effects.” This revelation is a breakthrough in our understanding of how cannabis compounds work together and presents exciting possibilities for future medicinal applications.
Terpenes Have Cannabis-Like Effects
When administered individually, the four terpenes studied in the UAHS research – α-humulene, β-pinene, linalool, and geraniol – displayed fascinating properties. Each terpene was found to reduce pain sensitivity in the mice and exert varying degrees of influence on body temperature, movement, and catalepsy.
This reduction in pain sensation was linked to the activation of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. This receptor plays a pivotal role in regulating various physiological processes and is a primary target for cannabinoids like THC. Moreover, the terpene β-caryophyllene, known to activate the CB2 receptor selectively, was used as a control in the study. This allowed the researchers to make precise behavioral comparisons when the terpenes interacted with the CB1 receptor and WIN55,212-2.
When the terpenes were administered alongside WIN55,212-2, the effects were pronounced. The combination of terpenes and cannabinoids resulted in a more significant reduction in pain sensation than expected from their individual effects. This observation underscores the entourage effect, which amplifies the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids when combined with specific terpenes.
Why Studying the Entourage Effect Matters
Understanding the entourage effect is not just a matter of scientific curiosity; it has significant implications for medicine. The potential to enhance the pain-relieving effects of cannabinoids through terpenes opens up new avenues for creating more effective and efficient cannabis-based medicines.
Many patients seek pain relief through medical cannabis, but the psychoactive effects of THC can be a deterrent. The discovery of the entourage effect could lead to the development of novel cannabis medicines that utilize terpenes to boost their beneficial effects while minimizing their psychoactive properties. This could mean that patients can experience pain relief without the unwanted side effects associated with THC.
Get Your Mississippi Medical Card for Pain Relief
If you’re in Mississippi and seeking access to pain relief through medical cannabis, Pause Pain & Wellness is here to assist you. We have clinics across the state, including Oxford, Meridian, Flowood/Jackson, Tupelo, Olive Branch, Starkville, Hattiesburg, and Gulfport. Our dedicated team is well-equipped to provide guidance and support throughout the process.
To take the first step towards obtaining your Mississippi Medical Card for pain relief, simply contact us at 833-940-5060.