Let’s talk about anxiety. It’s pretty prevalent these days. A lot of us are experiencing a feeling of “off-ness” after scrolling through the daily coronavirus headlines. It just takes one worry to quickly unravel like a piece of thread. It’s an explosion of thoughts, emotions, sweat. You can’t focus. Your hands are shaking. You have butterflies in your stomach. Pins and needles are alive along with your hands, arms, face. You’re just. So. Tired.
If you deal with anxiety, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older 1. A lot of methods can help you manage your anxiety, like therapy, exercise, diet, medication — and plant medicine. Specifically, cannabis terpenes.
Here’s what you should know about cannabis terpenes for anxiety, plus the best way to get them (without getting high — unless you want to).
Related Article: How To Enjoy Cannabis Without Getting High
The Facts About Essential Oils, Terpenes, and Your Brain
Essential oils aren’t just bottled aromatherapy tools — although they’re pretty great for that, too. Plant compounds called terpenes give essential oils their fragrance. They make lavender smell so soothing, and oranges smell like bright, vivid citrus. When you inhale or ingest terpenes, they pass into your bloodstream — and that’s when the magic happens 2.
Terpenes work with your body to produce different effects. Some terpenes have been shown to support memory, reduce inflammation, and even boost your focus [LINK TO TERPENES FOR FOCUS]. Others play a role in stress relief and mood — which is a big plus for helping you manage anxiety.
You can get terpenes on their own, in essential oils, or in cannabis products.
Essential Oils Benefits for Anxiety
Essential oils, and the terpenes they contain, can support the following effects:
- Reduced anxiety
- Mood support
- Stress relief
What You Should Know About Cannabis and Anxiety
If you’ve ever smoked a joint to unwind, you know that certain strains of marijuana can help you relax — and we’re not talking about Indica or Sativa. Certain strains that are higher in specific terpenes can help you manage anxiety in different ways. Some terpenes, like beta-caryophyllene, bind to particular receptors in your body to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Others, like myrcene, have sedative effects that can help quiet restless thoughts.
There are a few different mechanisms at work here:
- The entourage effect: The cannabis plant contains terpenes and cannabinoids (THC and CBD). These compounds work together in your body to produce different results via the entourage effect.
- Your endocannabinoid system is a system in your body, like your nervous system or immune system. It’s responsible for keeping your body balanced. The compounds in cannabis (terpenes, THC, and CBD) interact with your endocannabinoid system to keep your body in working order. Learn more about it here.
The thing is, you can benefit from terpenes without getting high. That’s because they’ve been shown to interact with your body, even without CBD or THC. This is why essential oils have so many benefits on their own, and it’s why terpenes can help you feel like yourself again.
Below, we’ll dig into the best terpenes to manage anxiety. If you want to get a little baked, look for strains of marijuana with higher levels of the following terpenes. If you wish to relax, try full-spectrum CBD products with these terpenes or isolated terpene products. Everyone’s a little different, and it’s a great idea to experiment and see what works best for you.
Related Article: The Trilogia Guide to CBD
5 Best Cannabis Terpenes to Help Manage Anxiety
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Research in cannabis and terpenes is still in its early days, and we’re still learning about the therapeutic effects of plants. These are a few terpenes with compelling evidence behind them to help you manage anxiety.
Found in: Sage, pine, rosemary
Use it for Reduced anxiety
In a 2014 rodent study, the daily inhalation of pinene over five days was associated with reduced stress in a stressful environment 3. For mice, that meant an elevated maze test. For you, that might indicate any other stressful situation. Pinene, along with the terpene linalool, may help relieve anxiety and depression by acting on the body’s monoaminergic system. This is a fancy way of saying these terpenes affect your feel-good neurotransmitters, serotonin, and dopamine 4.
Found in: Cloves, hops, basil, oregano
Use it for Mood support
Also known as beta-caryophyllene, this terpene is pretty amazing. It’s the only terpene we know of that acts as a cannabinoid. Meaning it directly binds to your endocannabinoid receptors. That might be why it has so many benefits, including reduced inflammation and pain management 5. Rodent studies show that caryophyllene has anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects 6. Researchers don’t know exactly how it works, but the way this terpene interacts with CB2 receptors plays a role.
Found in: Mango, hops, thyme, basil
Use it for Relaxation
Myrcene is the most common terpene produced by cannabis, and it’s responsible for the “couch-lock” effect you’ll get from certain Indica strains. This makes it ideal for relaxation and sedation. In rodent studies using essential oils high in myrcene, researchers associated the myrcene and other terpenes with reduced anxiety and sleep 7 8 9
Found in: Citrus
Use it for Stress relief
Limonene, the primary terpene in citrus essential oils, has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects. However, researchers aren’t exactly sure how it affects the brain 10 11. One 2005 study (with people!) investigated the effects of essential oils in a dental office. The fragrance of orange and lavender was found to reduce anxiety and improve mood. Orange essential oil is high in limonene — and lavender is high in the next terpene, linalool 12.
Found in: Lavender, mint, cinnamon
Use it for Reduced anxiety
If you’ve ever used lavender essential oil to unwind or lit a lavender candle, you’re familiar with the soothing effects of linalool. In rodent studies, this terpene has been shown to have significant anti-anxiety effects 13 14. Like pinene, linalool may interact with the monoaminergic system, which means it affects your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters 15.
Managing anxiety looks a little different for everyone. Some people talk to a therapist to figure out how to get ahead of racing thoughts. Some people use medication and daily exercise to feel their best. Others use cannabis or CBD with some of the terpenes listed above (because Mother Nature cares about you and your beautiful brain). And lots of people use a combination of methods to deal with those anxious thoughts and nagging emotions.
The big takeaway here is that your anxiety is real, and it matters, and you have resources available to help you. You deserve to feel your best. Some days that means you’re on top of the world. Other days that means you need a little help — and that’s perfectly okay. It’s what makes you human.
Related Article: CBD+ Terpene Combinations for Relaxation and Stress Relief