Terpenes are a diverse class of organic compounds produced by plants. These chemicals give trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables their distinct scents, flavors, and pigments. If you’ve ever enjoyed essential oils or herbs, you’ve already reaped some of their many benefits.
There are different kinds of terpenes, and while these tiny molecules stimulate the senses, they also have the power to help relieve pain.
This post will discuss the most common types of terpenes known to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Terpenes and Their Pain-Relieving Properties
Myrcene is the most common type of terpene found in plants. It forms the majority component of essential oils in herbs, such as lemongrass, thyme, and bay. Apart from its antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, this citrus-smelling compound has also been found to relieve chronic pain and anxiety.
A study involving rats showed that myrcene helped lessen their pain due to the analgesic activity present in the terpene. Another experiment concluded that myrcene helped prevent blood vessel injury by inducing certain compounds and enzymes in the body. Moreover, myrcene has been shown to generate sedative effects, reducing irritability.
Meanwhile, one test that employed mice models suggests that myrcene may help alleviate stroke in humans. In particular, beta-myrcene has been shown to reduce brain damage caused by cardiac arrest. In addition, beta-myrcene treatment may prevent brain tissue impairment, lowering the risk of stroke. However, researchers note that further clinical trials and studies are necessary to confirm these initial observations.
Commonly contained in citrus fruits, limonene is one of the most researched terpenes because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. In addition, a study has noted that this compound helps soothe pain, particularly chronic bone-related sensitivity. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, thanks to its stress-relieving effects.
One particular study concluded that limonene improved spatial memory impairment in mice while performing an anti-stress function by restraining hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity.
Another experiment, which used fruit fly models, found that limonene exhibits neuroprotective activity, making it a possible therapeutic reagent for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
While current results suggest that limonene’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can cure Alzheimer’s disease, researchers recommend that extensive clinical trials be carried out to validate such findings.
Known for its woodsy, piney smell, this terpene can be found in various fruits and plants, including conifer trees, citrus, and rosemary.
Studies have shown that beta-pinene, in particular, helps stabilize mood and acts as a potent antimicrobial, helping relieve inflammation. Research has also uncovered its potential to treat arthritis due to its inflammatory property.
Pinene has also been found to ease pain associated with cancer, helping inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Further, a study suggests that alpha-pinene helps induce physiological relaxation when inhaled.
Upon intake, a signal is transferred from the olfactory system to the central nervous system. From there, the brain works to regulate anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders by secreting neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
This effect was likewise observed in an experiment involving mice, where the ingestion of pinene resulted in reduced anxiety levels. It also helped suppress the brain abnormalities present in the rat models, suggesting that it may potentially treat schizophrenia in humans.
Eucalyptol can be derived from tea tree, bay leaf, and – you guessed it right – eucalyptus. While it works as an insecticide, it is primarily used to relieve pain and swelling. In particular, this terpenoid (a derivative of terpene) is known to inhibit gout inflammation.
Not surprisingly, researchers highly value eucalyptol as an analgesic, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. A study that employed mice suggests that this terpenoid may potentially treat acute lung injury by decreasing inflammatory cells. This scientifically validates what people have been traditionally practicing for decades – using eucalyptus to cure respiratory disorders.
Terpenes Help Alleviate Pain
Terpenes possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that fight against pain. In addition, they communicate with certain protein cell receptors in the body’s inner endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in regulating key bodily functions. When taken in, they work to suppress an overactive immune response to inflammation, helping ease chronic pain, stress, and mood disorders.
If you seek relief for a specific symptom, experts recommend that you consult your doctor to do a comprehensive assessment.
Kalki is one of the master flavor chemists at Sauce Terps and Medical Terpenes. He is the director of sales and marketing at Sauce Terps and Medical Terpenes; he is also a major contributor to research and development. Amongst creating new and exciting, dank strains, he also manages the quality control of the manufacturing process in an ISO 9001:2015 and GMP compliant lab. He enjoys spice and pungent aromas with a heavy nose.