University Of Arizona Study Looks At Cannabis Terpenes And Pain Relief

Published: Thursday, July 15, 2021 - 5:42pm
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Chemicals called terpenes give cannabis its pungent aroma. They give marijuana a sweet or skunky smell and taste.

Members of the pharmacology department at the University of Arizona College of Medicine studied mice to find out if terpenes also treat pain.

Terpenes are also found in essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus.

“That’s why essential oils smell so strong is their really heavy terpene content,” said UA biomedical scientist John Streicher.

Terpenes are a different class of chemical than cannabinoids, which are home to the compound THC that causes intoxication.

Streicher’s team wanted to know if terpenes do more than just cause odor.

“So we definitely showed that the terpenes (that) were injected into the mice have a cannabinoid-like effect and do relieve pain,” he said.

The UA study also found the comforting effect of terpenes was amplified in mice when combined with cannabinoids.

The results are a sign that terpenes could one day be used to treat pain in humans without the drawbacks of high-inducing cannabinoids or highly-addictive opioids, Streicher said.

He recently won a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study terpenes and chronic pain.   

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