When I explain the science behind the sleep brand, dreamed people often ask: “What load do you use? Shows, Law? Indicas are there to sleep. “While not all indica will help you sleep, these people are up to something. Certain strains of cannabis have specific effects, and some can help you sleep. While the effects are straightforward with inhalants like vapes, flowers, and extracts, food is a completely different story – and it’s a story that many in the cannabis industry have told without fully exploring the science behind their claims.
What is a burden and what makes an edible “strain specific? “I could spend page after page explaining cannabis strains, but for the purpose of this discussion, a strain is a strain or a plant type. In general, all strains contain flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids. Some strains contain more THC or CBD than others , but commercially available plants contain 12 to 30 percent THC and insignificant amounts of it CBD and other smaller cannabinoids (excluding plants grown or processed specifically to make CBD or other cannabinoids).
However, a variety from a producer or a crop can be different THC Percentages as the same variety from other growers or a different crop with the same grower. In addition, the flavonoids and other compounds can be highly diluted after extraction and dosing. What really is a burden in this case is the terpene profile.
Terpenes are aromatic and volatile compounds that give wood, fruits, flowers and cannabis their characteristic scent. Terpenes can act as pheromones, insect repellants, and perform many other functions. When used in the correct concentration and method of administration, they can have several medicinal benefits in humans.
You can get all of the benefits of terpenes in Cannabis food? In short, no. But let me explain why. To understand the effects of terpenes, we need to study olfactory neuroscience, skin biology, and small bowel physiology. The main mechanism in detecting terpenes is the olfactory or nasal system. The signaling pathway begins with the activation of olfactory receptor proteins in olfactory sensory neurons. The neurons send the signal to the olfactory bulb, which forwards it to various places in the brain.
Studies have shown that aromatic molecules (like terpenes) can affect behavior and physiological conditions. The neuroendocrine system, which produces hormones in the brain, and the endocrine system, which produces hormones in the rest of the body, are involved in regulating olfactory learning and the sense of smell. There are around 400 different types of functional olfactory receptor genes in humans, so the olfactory system is very specialized.
The effects of terpenes depend on the routes of administration. For example, β-caryophyllene and linalool are both found in lavender essential oils. Although topical application of β-caryophyllene improves cell regeneration in skin wounds, inhalation of lavender essential oil does not lead to this effect. Linalool, on the other hand, creates an anti-anxiety effect that is only mediated by the olfactory system. This indicates which method terpenes should be applied by, depending on the specific terpene and expected function.
For example, a lavender essential oil diffuser must be used if the expected effect is the anti-anxiety effect of linalool. In contrast, lavender essential oil should be applied topically when the goal is to improve wound healing with β-caryophyllene. Note that linalool does not affect the skin.
In 2014, researchers at Cambridge University in England discovered that the human olfactory receptor OR2AT4 is expressed in the epidermis and hair follicles. The authors suggested a possible use of sandalore (a terpene derived from sandalwood) to improve wound healing and prevent hair loss. Other studies found that terpenes such as limonene, linalool, and citral also interact with the olfactory receptor OR2V1 and augment the microbiota in the gut of mice. The olfactory receptor OR2V1 is expressed in both the large and small intestines.
A study published in the Journal of Neural Regeneration Research showed that the olfactory receptor OR51E2 is expressed in some, but not all, enteroendocrine cells in the colon. In a separate study, the activation of OR51E2 in the small intestine was also involved in the regulation of blood pressure. It is important to note that all of these receptors are only present in the small and large intestines and not in the stomach.
How does all of this relate to food? As always, the effect depends on the dose. In a study published in 2015 in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior, the researchers discovered that administration of geraniol directly into the stomach through a tube (probe) at a dose of 20 mg to 40 mg per kilogram had an antidepressant effect. This means that a person would have to insert 1.2g to 2.4g of terpene directly into their stomach – bypassing the mouth – to get a similar effect. Other studies have used enteric capsules designed to withstand the acidic environment of the human stomach during the digestive process to allow the terpenes to reach the intestines (where the receptors are located).
Many studies have looked at whether to consume liquids or swallow capsules to limit terpene exposure primarily to the gastrointestinal system. However, the doses required to achieve noticeable effects were between 20 mg and 200 mg per kilogram. This means that people would need an edible product that contains 1,200 mg to 12,000 mg in order to feel the effects. These are massive doses.
The nutritional composition of an edible plays a critical role in the bioavailability of terpenes as they are digested in the mouth and stomach before they enter the small intestine. Mechanical and enzymatic effects, different pH conditions and the conversion to compounds that are typically more water-soluble and easily excreted in the urine influence this process.
Usually an edible 10 mg of THC contains insignificant amounts of terpenes. When the edible comes from a strain-specific butane hash oil extract (up to 3 percent terpenes), terpenes are present in an amount of about 0.33 mg per dose. If the extract is a high terpene, full spectrum blend (up to 40 percent terpenes, which is the highest concentration of terpenes possible in an extract), users are consuming around 7 mg per dose (which would taste terrible). Even that is still nearly 200 times less than the minimum concentration of terpene that has been shown to have a pharmacological effect when administered orally. In addition, the terpenes in the edible state are broken down by the harsh acidic state in the stomach. Even if the terpenes reach the gut – the place where they are more likely to be absorbed – the desired “exercise-specific” effect is not guaranteed. As already mentioned, the receptors in the olfactory system, on the skin and in the intestines have dramatically different effects.
The strain-specific food is a marketing gimmick. Consuming terpenes in an edible substance simply does not provide enough active ingredient to have an effect. In the best possible (but worst-tasting) scenario, a user would be consuming 200 times less than he or she needs to feel a terpene effect, and even then there is no guarantee that the terpenes will not be completely broken down by the stomach. Even if the terpenes reach the gut, these receptors may not produce the same results as inhalation.
Carolina Vazquez Mitchell is a pharmacologist and the creator of the Luchador and Cannabis Sleep Aid, which she formulated to treat her own insomnia while studying chemistry at the University of Southern California. She has developed more than fifty cannabis products, ran a cannabis testing laboratory, and was named one of DOPE Magazine’s Outstanding Women in Cannabis.