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Is There Research on the Pain-Relieving Potential of Terpenes?

Soumya Nalam
OG Shark Cannabis

When you are looking for the right strain for your chronic pain, you must consider these terpenes. 

The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of cannabis strains can be attributed to the presence of two terpenes:  β-caryophyllene and β-myrcene.

An electronic survey was conducted for 2,032 medical cannabis patients suffering from headaches, arthritis, and chronic pain. These were asked to indicate their demographics and patterns of cannabis use, including: cannabinoid and terpene profiles of their strain, frequency, methods, preferred strains, prescription substitutions and quantity per day.

Person carrying cannabis leaves

Image Credit: Canna Obscura

The results showed 21 illnesses treated with cannabis, with headache the most common symptom to be treated with cannabis (24.9% of respondents).

The most preferred of the strains had 3:1 (CBD:THC) and 1:1 (CBD:THC). Smoking joints of vaporizing were the primary methods of use across all groups.

Do Hybrid Strains Kill Pain the Best?

Results showed that hybrid strains were most preferred across all pain subtypes. Patients with the primary symptoms of migraine and headaches most commonly and specifically preferred the hybrid strain “OG Shark.” It is a rare Canadian blend of 50% indica and 50% sativa.

OG Shark is a high THC/low CBD strain with high percentages of β-caryophyllene and β-myrcene. The choice of this strain reflects the potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of THC, β-caryophyllene and β-myrcene.


Renowned as the first-ever “dietary cannabinoid” for over a decade now, β-caryophyllene (BCP), is a major component of cannabis. This terpene can also by found in: basil, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, oregano and rosemary.

BCP exhibits anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. It the ONLY terpene known to bind directly and selectively to the endocannabinoid receptor CB2.

Bowl of Black Pepper Against White Background

Image Credit: Shutterstock

CB2 is a therapeutic target for treating atherosclerosis, inflammation, pain and osteoporosis; β-caryophyllene is a selective CB2 agonist. This means that strains high in β-caryophyllene will better treat these inflammatory conditions. Several studies strongly support the effectiveness of BCP as a novel molecule in the development of effective therapeutic solutions to treat inflammatory conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Osteoporosis in hip bone

Image Credit: Crevis

Studies have shown that BCP may be highly effective in the treatment of debilitating, long-lasting pain states.


The most prevalent terpene found in most varieties of cannabis is myrcene. It is also  present in basil, bay leaves, hops, parsley, wild thyme, lemongrass, citrus and tropical fruits, such as mango.

Its concentration is the deciding factor in whether a strain will have an Indica (sedative effect) or Sativa effect (energizing effect). A strain containing more than 0.5% myrcene is an Indica and anything less is a Sativa.

Myrcene has potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties. By mimicking the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea as a sedative, it has an action profile different from that of the aspirin-like drugs. It is also capable of blocking the detection of a painful or injurious stimulus by sensory neurons (antinociception) in mice.

Close up of Hops

Hops are also high in myrcene. Image Credit: McGraw

Identifying dosing and most effective patterns of use (quick acting inhaled or more sustained orally ingested) is needed to develop and optimize crossbred cannabis strains that effectively treat chronic pain and inflammation.

Soumya Nalam

An expert content strategist with over a decade's experience. A double gold medalist with a Master's in Life Sciences (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology). Editor-in-charge at CureJoy, Senior Publishing Specialist and Reuters and Optimization Specialist at Google AdSense.

1 Comment
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    Deb Johnson

    I love that terpenes are getting so popular. My question is what is a recipe? What do you mix with? What oil? How many drops of each? This is what is driving me crazy! Been trying CBD oil for 3 or 4 months. I notice no difference, so thinking of giving up. Medical Cannibis is to open here sometime in April. Will that CBD be different from what’s availble….ahhhh!! Lol

    February 13, 2019 at 9:54 pm Reply

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