Olfaction researchers and terpene chemists have always known the incredible power of terpenes. But few other people understood that terpenes were more powerful than many pharmacological compounds including cannabinoids – even THC. This was aptly demonstrated in the following journal article.
In this past issue of the highly respected Journal Nature, the link listed above brings you to a very interesting article regarding the power of terpenes. Granted, this article contains some heavy psychopharmacology and neurochemistry, so not everyone is going to want to attack the fine print.
To help those people let’s break it down a bit. Basically, the article points out that marijuana works due to its ability to turn on endocannabinoid receptors (especially EC1 receptors) in the brain. That is a known fact. Another well-known, proven fact is that hunger and satiety (feeling full) is controlled primarily in one part of the limbic system in the brain called the hypothalamus. In a very general sense, when the lateral hypothalamus is excited, people get very, very hungry, due to the presence of receptors which cause hunger. And when the ventromedial hypothalamus (sitting next door) is excited, satiety occurs, and hunger disappears, due to the presence of receptors which cause us to feel full.
When you ingest certain strains of marijuana, especially through smoking or vaping - a very interesting thing happens. Since both areas of the hypothalamus contain endocannabinoid receptors, when CB1 receptors grab THC and certain groups of related terpenes, they cause profound hunger to occur – regardless of whether the receptors that are activated are in the lateral or ventromedial areas of the hypothalamus. Here is where it gets interesting. When you introduce a CB1 antagonist, i.e. a terpene that is known to activate receptors in the ventromedial hypothalamus, something startling happens. Rather than hunger growing, it disappears.
And the information contained in the Nature article shows the general mechanism.
Inject THC directly in lateral hypothalamus = hunger
Inject THC directly in ventromedial hypothalamus = hunger
Inject THC directly in lateral hypothalamus with CB1 antagonist (scent) = hunger
Inject THC directly in ventromedial hypothalamus with CB1 antagonist = SATIETY
The Nature study shows that the ventromedial hypothalamus will override the lateral hypothalamus when both are stimulated by THC and a CB1 receptor antagonistic terpene odor.
In other words, the correct appetite suppressing terpenes are so powerful for portion control and therefore weight loss, that they can even override one of the strongest behavioral effects of THC – the munchies.
What is true here for hunger/satiety is also true for pain modulation, mood affect, as well as most of the other known effects of cannabis. In other words, using the proper terpenes we can turn on endocannabinoid receptors in one area such as decreasing pain while blocking another area such as hunger.
To break it down even further, if many cannabis strains cause you to get what is referred to as the munchies, all you need to ingest the cannabis alongside of a simple terpene or terpene blend which will totally change the effect into appetite suppression, i.e. diet cannabis! Similarly using cannabis whether, marijuana or hemp derived, the simple addition of various appropriate terpenes can dramatically increase the positive response delivered by the natural cannabis product in other areas like pain or anxiety.