Talk About Terpenes: Active Agents in CBD Oil for Pets

CBD for pets is a huge hit with pet owners who see a dramatic improvement in the health of their furry family members. But what’s the science behind CBD and what direct impacts does CBD oil have on our furry friends? We know it can be a daunting task to read through scientific studies in an effort to learn more about CBD, so if you want to geek out for a while with a trusted source that has done the research for you, you’ve come to the right place.

With more than 400 chemical entities, it would be an understatement to say cannabis is a complex plant. The two chemicals that get the most attention are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But there is another class of chemicals in cannabis that deserves attention: terpenes.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are actually found in many plants, but cannabis has a high concentrations of them, which is probably why you hear more about terpenes in cannabis than in other plants. When you smell a zesty lemon rind or pick up on the spicey aromatic notes of freshly ground black pepper, you’re smelling the terpenes. The highly aromatic nature of terpenes explains why many essential oils contain them. While terpenes can act as a repellent to predators, they can also attract pollinators.

So, why are terpenes important for animals? The answer is: Terpenes are bioactive, which means they have health benefits.

Interestingly, terpenes have a similar effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that cannabinoids do. As we discussed in a previous blog, the ECS is a system of cells that play a role in mood, appetite, memory, sleep, fertility/reproduction and many others life functions. It’s important to note here that research has shown that terpenes act as a non-psychoactive agent in the body because it is not a cannabinoid and therefore doesn’t contain THC.

CBD Terpene Types

The exact number of terpenes in cannabis is still being debated, but its widely believed that there are more than 100. Among the ones believed to have health benefits for human, dogs and cats include limonene, linalool, pinene, caryophyllene and myrcene.

  • Limonene
    The most common terpene, limonene gives citrus fruits that wonderful aroma, but it also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Limonene also acts as a solvent of cholesterol and has been used clinically to dissolve gallstones containing cholesterol. And because it has a neutralizing effect on acid, it has been used for treating heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux.
  • Linalool
    If you’ve read about CBD being used to control epilepsy, you’re probably familiar with this terpene. It’s also regarded for its ability to reduce stress and is an anti-inflammatory, a sedative and a pain reducer. Researchers at a university in South Africa found that linalool can be used to effectively treat rhodococcus equi, which is a type of pneumonia domesticated animals get from bacteria found in soil. They also found it to be of use in treating staph infection.
  • Pinene
    Another anti-inflammatory is pinene, but it has also been studied for its use as a bronchodilator. Pinene has been involved in anti-cancer research for its perceived ability to slow or stop tumor growth. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information says pinene has been used to treat patients with breast cancer and leukemia. Pinene is also known for its mood enhancing qualities, such as giving users a more uplifting, comfortable feeling.
  • Caryophyllene
    Noted for its impact on inflammation and pain, caryophyllene has also been used for treating atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. It’s also been beneficial in treating colitis. There is research ongoing regarding the protective properties of caryophyllene against various neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, but this terpene is also cited for enhancing mood.
  • Myrcene
    Another terpene type associated with its antibiotic uses, myrcene is also an anti-inflammatory, sedative and analgesic. People with sleep disorders, such as insomnia, have benefitted from this terpene. Muscle relaxation is another trait associated with myrcene, which is why it can be helpful in reducing and treating anxiety. These same relaxation qualities also make it a helpful terpene used to reduce pain.

Researchers’ Results

While you might not be an advocate of studies that use test animals, some interesting results have come out of a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Researchers found that mice exposed to terpenoid odors, which they inhaled in ambient air for one hour, “demonstrated profound effects on activity levels, suggesting a direct pharmacological effect on the brain.” The study also found that myrcene is a “prominent sedative” and proved to be a muscle relaxant in mice.

The study also claims that caryophyllene, which is one of the most common terpenes used in cannabis extracts, has proven to be a “gastric cytoprotective” (meaning it protects cells) for patients undergoing treatment for ulcers in their upper small intestines.

The science can get pretty complex, but for pet owners doing the deep dive about CBD and the impact it can have on their pets, it’s an interesting journey. As more studies are published, we at PetSoothe will continue to keep you informed. If you have questions about our CBD protect pets, contact us today. 

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