Understanding the Terpenes in Relation with Back Pain

If you go into a medical cannabis dispensary, you will often see over 20 different kinds of product. The names of these products will sound like a grunge band name, such as Purple Haze, Nirvana, or White Widow, which can be purchased from a reputable single seed centre.

There are no recognized standards that perform quality control checks on the various strains, so patients cannot be assured of buying the same product between various dispensaries. They should be similar in quality though.


There are two general strains called indica and sativa. Most finished products these days are combinations of strains. Sativas generally have sweet, floral aromas and are said to be inspirational and energizing. They can be helpful in separating the mind from pain.

Indica blends big bud strain, on the other hand, have a dry and weed like odor. They are relaxing, sedating, and relieve stress and pain. Patients often say they work well for chronic pain in conjunction with pain medications.

People often think that the various blends work differently because of the varying ratios of cannabinoids in them. Cannabinoids are the mind-altering components of cannabis, and THC is the most well-known one. Interestingly, research shows that THC is the most predominant cannabinoid by far in all varieties.

The terpenes

Terpenes are the molecules for scent that are found mostly in essential oils of plants. These essential oils are utilized in aromatherapy because they have been found to regulate brain function and mood. Researchers are now giving credence to the belief that terpenes affect how cannabis works on the body.

Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. It’s citrus, earthy, and fruity in quality. This terpene is an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and pain reliever. It is thought to work in combination with THC, decreasing depression, elevating mood, and allowing more THC to get into the brain.

Another terpene, Beta-caryophyllene, smells peppery. It maintains pain relief qualities, but lacks a mental effect. So it is considered non-psychoactive. Pinene is another terpene that is a major component of turpentine. It has a piney odor and has been shown to increase focus, self-satisfaction, and memory. Terpenol also has a significant sedative effect and is great for sleep disorders.

There are other terpenes that help with improving memory, which is one thing that is typically thought to be adversely affected with existing cannabis strains. One of these is Pulegone, which slows the destruction of memory transfer proteins.

As more research is performed, the different varieties of terpene and its effects on the body will hopefully become more apparent. This will help patients more effectively receiving treatment for their disease.

Relieve Pain

The opioid receptor system in the body that allows endorphins pain-relieving effects, the body also has a cannabinoid receptor system. There are three form of cannabinoids: (ECS) endocannabinoids which made by the body, phytocannabinoids made by cannabis plants and synthetic cannabinoids produced in a laboratory.

The oldest and widely used medicinal plant around the world; cannabis contains a number of cannabinoids, each with its own qualities. The three most important components are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and beta-caryophyllene. The main psychoactive component of cannabis— THC is a mild pain reliever and CBD reduces spasms, inflammation, nausea and anxiety. Beta-caryophellene is a strong anti-inflammatory cannabinoid and is found in highest concentration in cannabis essential oils.


The recent theory on fibromyalgia indicates that the brains of its sufferer’s process pain abnormally, or that excessive pain signals are sent to the brain. Increasing the number of cannabinoids available to the body can help to counteract the pain of fibromyalgia. A study showed fibromyalgic cannabis users to report significant reductions in pain and stiffness.

Chronic back pain often involves inflammation, muscle spasms and/or nerve pain. Cannabis has been demonstrated to relieve symptoms, though studies into neuropathic pain relief have been outstanding. A small study tried the effects of cannabis with varying THC potencies on pain relief. Those who received the highest potency, 9.4%, reported substantially reduced pain.

Some sources estimate that street cannabis contains 10-15% THC, more than needed for pain management. This may answer an important question for those considering medical cannabis: Do I have to get high? The answer is no. Since THC is the main psychoactive component in cannabis, reducing its levels and increasing the levels of CBD will result in fewer psychological effects while still relieving pain. There are clinics in states that allow medical cannabis that offer strains of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis.

The Debate

Cannabis is classified as an illicit substance, which has created a stigma around it. More and more, science is discovering the therapeutic effects of this plant, and even working to synthesize its cannabinoids in the lab. Until the safety of the synthetic compounds is supported by solid evidence, however, referring to nature’s source is most advisable.

Some are concerned about the potentiality of dependence associated with drugs. However, many acknowledged prescriptions for pain management, including opioids, are extremely addictive. Cannabis has been demonstrated to limit opioid dependence. Aside from habitual addiction, which is a concern with any medication, there is no indication that cannabis postures dependency issues. A host of other damaging health effects in connection with common painkillers, such as kidney and liver damage, as well as overdose, are not associated with cannabis consumption.

The most popular method of use for cannabis is smoking. Lung and throat irritation are logical concerns for people who are considering medical cannabis for prolonged pain management. Further research is needed to assess the efficacy of cannabis administered orally or through a ventilator.

As with any pain medication, cannabis is a useful tool for pain management that should be used to alleviate symptoms while pursuing a treatment plan that attacks the source of your pain.


Natalie Gray is a Biochemical Engineer. She works in the Research and Development team that focuses on the design and construction of unit processes. Her love for organic chemistry brought her to medical cannabis. She grows her own flowers, working on different projects and study anything above and under cannabis roots.