Cannabis Aromatherapy – How effective is it?
As many of you may already know, the fragrant essence of plants, including cannabis, comes from terpenes. Terpenes are naturally occurring molecules, or compounds, produced by plants. These compounds are varieties in all kinds of combinations that have evolved in plants to keep predators away and attract animal and plant pollinators. Read on to learn more about the effectiveness of cannabis aromatherapy.
The essential oils used in conventional aromatherapy are derived from the extraction of these terpenes into oils. The National Institutes of Health says that “aromatherapy is the inhalation of the scent of essential oils that are extracted from plants, often from under the surface of leaves, bark, or from peel”.
When these terpenes are inhaled, they travel into the limbic system, which is a primitive brain structure which regulates behavior, emotion, and mood. Otherwise known as cannabis aromatherapy.
Note: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis as a treatment for any medical condition so you should consult your doctor for all health recommendations.
How Terpenes Can Help with Relaxation and Insomnia
There are many plants such as lavender, citrus, hops, black pepper and pine have scents which can make people feel more relaxed or help promote sleep. The scents that will be most effective in providing help with insomnia and relaxation can be found in terpenes that have been used over the years in herbal and folk medicine. These are considered the primary terpenes in cannabis, which include linalool, limonene, and a-pinene. Cannabis flower oil and hemp essential oils properties are considered calming, uplifting and relaxing. Using hemp essential oil in a diffuser is thought to aid in concentration and clear thoughts. These are the properties that are used in aromatherapy to encourage the emotions. While hemp oil is not made from the cannabis flower, it is often used as a carrier oil for the cannabis flower essential oil.
Based on a large amount of research into cannabis research, we have come to a more clear understanding of the exact way terpenes affect the human body. This research also has shown how they interact with the more well-known molecules of the cannabinoids CBD and THC. As mentioned earlier, terpenes have been used for many years in folk medicines and continue to be used in today’s herbal medicine practices. One study found that “lavender can help people relax and limit the agitation of Alzheimer patients”1. You can read more on the subject of dementia and essential oils on one of my earlier posts from 2016.
What Are the Differences between Cannabis Essential Oils and Hemp Seed Carrier Oils?
Cannabis Essential Oil is produced by the steam distillation of the cannabis flower. The active components are myrcene and caryophyllene, which are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties. These come in several different formulations. Listed below are the types of essential oil formulations available from Eden’s Garden 2., one of my favorite sources for essential oils. Here is an extract of Eden’s Garden’s recent post discussing these differences:
“CBD – Extracted from the Hemp Plant, Cannabidiol is a potent phyto-cannabinoid that is non-psychoactive.
Cannabis CO2 Total – A concentrate extracted from the flowers of cannabis by the use of carbon dioxide and a great amount of pressure. Typically, CO2 Totals have a thicker semi-solid consistency, often referred to as cannabis “mud”. The process produces an extract that contains the highest amount the plant’s heavier extractable components which are typically the most medicinally valuable, and a minimal amount of the volatile aromatic essential oil components.
Cannabis CO2 Select – Closer to an essential oil than the CO2 total, the select is extracted from the flowers of cannabis using relatively lower pressure. Generally, the CO2s select is comprised of the plant’s most volatile essential oil components in addition to a smaller amount of the heavier molecules which cannot be steam distilled. The cannabinoid content of the cannabis select is typically in the 3-5% range. As the cannabis essential oil basically has no significant level of cannabinoids, one can think of the CO2 select as sort of a hybrid between the CO2 total and the essential oil. In general, all CO2 selects are chemically closer to the essential oil profile but almost always having a richer, fuller, higher quality aromatic profile than the essential oil, due to the inclusion of the heavier components that the standard essential oil production methods cannot access.
Hemp Seed Carrier Oil – Filled with vitamins and antioxidant properties, Hemp Seed Oil is produced through a cold pressed method. The oil is pale to golden yellow. Hemp Seed Carrier Oil can help reduce toxins, clear skin and improve overall health.”
Properties of Myrcene and Caryophyllene
Listed below are the properties of the terpenes of myrcene and caryophyllene so you can see how the medicinal values match up. You can mix the cannabis essential oil with either single essential oils, or one of your favorite blends and take advantage of the increased medicinal value and create your own cannabis aromatherapy!
Scent – Spicy, Woody, Black Pepper, and cloves
Most Common Effects – None detected
Medicinal Value – Autoimmune disorders, anti-inflammatory; good for arthritis. Also found in black pepper, cloves, and cotton.
Scent – Musky, cloves, earthy, herbal with notes of citrus and tropical fruit.
Most Common Effects – Sedating, relaxing
Medicinal Value – Antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic; good for muscle tension, sleeplessness, pain, inflammation, depression. Also found in Mango, lemongrass, thyme, and hops.
If you want to learn more about terpenes click HERE.
Practical Uses for Cannabis Oil
Make You Own Scents
Try this recipe for a wonderful, relaxing non-chemical scent that is helpful in promoting relaxation after any stressful situation or to help get you through a tough day.
Mix a few drops of lavender essential and a few drops of a citrus-scented essential oil of your choice with cannabis essential oil in a small dark bottle to form a calming, refreshing perfume. Add a few more drops of hemp carrier oil and store the bottle in a dark, cool place for a few days. As with any essential oil, make sure you rub a small amount of cannabis essential oil on the inside of your wrist to test for sensitivity. In most cases, cannabis oil can be applied directly to your skin, but you can use it with hemp seed carrier oil to get maximum fragrance and effectiveness. Shake the bottle before application and viola, your own personal perfume!
Using Cannabis Essential Oil in Your Home
This versatile oil can also be a good replacement for those insect repellants which are full of toxic chemicals.
Since cannabis oil is made from the flowers of the plant, it contains the properties of limonene, which is similar to the properties of citronella. Citronella is a very common insect repellant on its own and can repel any number of insects, such as gnats, mosquitoes, and other common annoying flying insects. That makes it a perfect oil to add to your portable diffuser to make your deck or patio a much more pleasant place. If you have no skin sensitivity, you can also use as a personal repellant to rub on your skin! You can read more about using essential oils as natural insect repellents here.
Some research has shown that essential oils carry anti-fungal properties which can be effective in treating plant fungi which attack your garden and patio plants. If you are currently fighting with this problem, you can try mixing cannabis essential oil with lemongrass oil with water and spraying on your plants. Make sure you repeatedly shake your container to keep the oils from separating.
In answer to our initial question, “How Effective is Cannabis Aromatherapy”? My answer is: Highly Effective. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts. Leave me a comment or question below and we can further discuss!
1. National Institute of Health – Efficacy of aromatherapy (Lavandula angustifolia) as an intervention for agitated behaviours in Chinese older persons with dementia: a cross-over randomized trial.
2. Eden’s Garden – What Is Cannabis Essential Oil