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420 with CNW — Study Says Cannabis Terpenes Equal to Morphine in Pain Management

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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A new study exploring the potential of marijuana terpenes as treatments for chronic neuropathic pain suggests that these compounds could be as effective as morphine for pain relief, showing similar reductions in pain markers when administered via injection. Interestingly, when terpenes were combined with morphine, they enhanced the drug’s effectiveness as well.

The study found that, unlike morphine, none of the terpenes triggered a significant reward response, implying that they might be effective pain relievers without the risk of addiction or dysphoria. However, vaporized or orally administered terpenes did not show much impact on pain relief.

The authors highlighted that while major marijuana components, such as CBD and THC, have shown moderate effectiveness in managing severe pain, THC often has undesirable psychoactive effects. This limitation has led to a focus on other potential therapeutic compounds in marijuana, including terpenes, flavonoids and minor cannabinoids.

Terpenes, naturally occurring in many plants, such as rosemary, pine trees and oranges, are particularly abundant in marijuana, which contains about 150 different terpenes. The study suggests that this chemical diversity might contribute to the varied effects of various marijuana strains.

The research specifically investigated five terpenes: linalool, alpha-humulene, geraniol, beta-caryophyllene and beta-pinene, found in significant quantities in marijuana. The terpenes were tested on mice to evaluate their effects on inflammatory and peripheral neuropathic pain. The substances were injected into the mice’s hind paws and induced by chemotherapy medications, respectively. The terpenes were also administered orally and through vaporization.

Tests were conducted on a per-terpene basis, with 200 mg/kg of terpenes and 10 mg/kg of morphine being used for comparison. The study aimed to not only assess pain relief but also understand the mechanisms behind it. This included behavioral observations and cellular analyses, such as mRNA evaluation from flash-frozen mouse skin.

Results showed that all tested terpenes reduced neuropathic pain markers, except pinene, which did not significantly affect inflammatory pain.

Combining lower doses of terpenes with morphine appeared to enhance pain relief, indicating a potential for combination therapies that might offer better pain management while reducing the risk of opioid addiction. Regarding the potential for addiction, the study found that linalool and geraniol did not produce either an aversion or a preference in mice, suggesting they do not cause dysphoria or reward. Conversely, beta-caryophyllene and alpha-humulene showed a substantial aversive response, indicating they might be dysphoric, while beta-pinene had possible aversive side effects.

The method of administering terpenes mattered significantly. Injected terpenes were effective in reducing pain markers, whereas oral and vaporized terpenes had limited impact and sometimes caused side effects such as hypothermia. This indicates that terpenes might have restricted bioavailability when taken orally or inhaled, which could explain why some people might not experience their pain-relieving effects through these methods.

The study also explored the mechanisms behind terpene-induced pain relief, suggesting that terpenes might act as anti-inflammatory agents and interact with specific nervous system receptors. The research indicated that terpenes could act as A2AR agonists, potentially interacting with receptors in a complex manner that requires further investigation.

Overall, while the findings are promising, the authors emphasized the need for more research to fully understand how these results translate to human pain management.

This study, in a way, provides validation for companies such as Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (CSE: TRUL) (OTCQX: TCNNF) that have heavily invested in developing medical cannabis products to help patients manage their symptoms.

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