John Streicher, PhD, Associate Professor at The University of Arizona, is exploring how cannabis terpenes affect pain. One study found that terpenes mimic cannabinoids and produce similar pain-relieving effects without mood or behavioral side effects, a finding that supports the existence of the “entourage effect.”
Streicher said very little is known about terpenes’ relationship with pain, hence his research. “There is a good body of clinical studies with people showing that terpenes can relieve pain, but very little of how they do it. Our studies confirm in animals that terpenes relieve pain, and we are starting to identify mechanisms,” said Streicher. “Terpenes can produce strong pain relief, and they do it at least in part by the cannabinoid and adenosine receptor systems.”
Streicher also mentioned the entourage effect, which he said is a controversial topic. “Many will claim it doesn’t exist. I should be clear, our studies don’t prove it – at least not yet. We just show that terpenes have these properties on their own, and that they interact to enhance cannabinoid pain relief when injected separately, but that doesn’t yet prove it happens in a natural plant preparation. In a sense though, this doesn’t matter, because our work suggests you could combine terpenes and cannabinoids or opioids for enhanced pain relief and reduced side effects, so who cares if it happens naturally’?”
To hear more about his research and why Streicher thinks cannabinoids are a promising alternative to pain pills, listen to the NutraCast.