Could Cannabis and Aromatherapy be a Match Made in Heaven?
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing method where the focus is put on the aroma of the plant. Extracts from the plant are used in the form of essential oils to either inhale or to be used as a topical ointment. Just as with Cannabis, other plants have been used for thousands of years to treat all sorts of problems. Aromatherapy is one such practice. Because the healing properties lie in the plant, it creates a perfect match for Cannabis.
Most plants contain Terpenes that are responsible for the specific smell of a plant. These terpenes are used to create essential oils. The terpenes are loaded with therapeutic properties and when it is inhaled it triggers the endocannabinoid and olfactory systems. The cannabis plant has a complex system, and in studies, it was found that just by smelling cannabis alone, the endocannabinoid system was activated. This means, that apart from the cannabinoid properties inside the plant, the aroma also contributes to the healing effect.
How does Aromatherapy work?
In the ordinary medical world, aromatherapy is seen as an alternative method. Some people remain skeptical and would not even dare to try it. But as it is as ancient as the use of cannabis to treat people, it is becoming more popular again. In aromatherapy plants like rosemary, lavender, cloves, and mint are used to name a few. The oils are extracted from the terpenes. Most plants have a terpene profile that has one or two main terpenes. Cannabis, on the other hand, has a terpene profile of roundabout 100 terpenes or more. There are many cannabis strains each with its own terpene profile. These terpenes can also render essential oils and in combination with other essential oils could be used as an effective healing method.
There is scientific proof that when you smell something, the molecules trigger a specific response in the olfactory receptors found in the nose. The signals registered by the olfactory neurons get taken by mitral cells to the olfactory bulb where the information gets processed. From there it gets transmitted to the olfactory cortex in the brain. The olfactory cortex is not the only place where the signals are taken to. It also gets moved to the limbic system in the brain where functions like heart rate, stress responses, memory and, breathing are processed.
Inhaling essential oils trigger a chain of event that lead to stress relieve, relaxation, and mood change.
Cannabis as an Essential Oil in Aromatherapy
In aromatherapy, all essential oils have to ability to trigger the olfactory system which activates the limbic system and amygdala in the brain. When essential oils also have cannabis added to it, it has a far-reaching effect because of the cannabinoid´s interaction with the endocannabinoid system. As the endocannabinoid system has receptors all over the brain and body, the cannabinoids have a wider effect.
The olfactory system has many cannabinoid receptors and the CB1 receptor is especially present. THC and CBD both respond to the receptors and work together to bring homeostasis to the body. It supports the immune system and have many healing effects.
How to use Cannabis Oils in Aromatherapy
Cannabis has 9 primary terpenes identified as the best to use in aromatherapy. It has been found that these terpenes alone or in combination have healing effects. A terpene like a pinene is very good for decongestion. In combination with Eucalyptus, it is excellent for relieving cold symptoms. The terpene borneol has anti-inflammatory properties and also helps to speed up the process of taking up cannabinoids in the bloodstream. Borneol also acts as a potent antioxidant and has anti-aging effects.
Terpenes work in synergy together with the cannabinoids to create therapeutic effects. When CBD is used together with THC, it counters the psychoactive effect of THC and lessens it. The terpenes Alpha Pinene and Beta Pinene have a similar effect. This is especially helpful when you don´t want to lose the medicinal effect of THC but want to reduce the psychoactive effect. When cannabis is consumed, THC interacts with the CB1 receptors. The terpenes also interact with the endocannabinoid system and modify the output of THC. It controls the amount of THC traveling through the blood barrier in the brain and lessens the psychoactive effect on the neurotransmitter levels.
Something similar happens when beta-caryophyllene is taken together with CBD. Beta-caryophyllene also binds with the CB2 receptors and just like CBD, has anti-inflammatory properties. The different terpenes create specific reactions and people tend to find the specific terpene for their condition.
Some of the benefits of cannabis essential oils are:
- Energy spurge
- Skin health
- Stress relief
- Headache relief
- Allergy relief
Cannabis as an essential oil together with other aromatherapy essential oils is very effective. The therapeutic benefits together with cannabis medicine can only enhance the effect. Each Terpene should be studied individually to understand the entire effect.