As the cannabis plant gains more notoriety for its medicinal uses, more research is proving what humans have known for centuries. Cannabis possesses healing properties which can aid in a patient’s overall healthcare routine.

Cannabis has been a source of food, fuel, paper, and building materials, a textile fiber, and a folk medicine remedy for thousands of years. THC and CBD are two popular cannabinoids, and have been used medicinally for centuries. But now, science has proven that there’s far more to the cannabis plant than just those two beneficial compounds.

Cannabis also has terpenes. Terpenes are can be thought of like the essential oils of the cannabis plant. These oils emit scents and flavors which contribute to the plant’s efficacy. According to P.M. Dewick in Medicinal Natural Products: A Biosynthetic Approach. 2nd. Edition (2001): Medicinal plants contain a variety of bioactive compounds such as terpenes, which are composed of essential oils.

Hundreds, if not more, essential oils have been used for centuries in folk remedies. This is due in part to their antibacterial properties.

Terpenes are found throughout the the plant world. Every single plant, herb, flower, vegetable and fruit possess terpenes; and each terpene serves a very specific purpose. Terpenes contribute to the characteristic odor and flavor of any plant.

Phytol is one of over 100 confirmed terpenes. This terpene is naturally found in green tea, wild lettuce and citrus. The presence of phytol could account for the alleged relaxing effect of wild lettuce (an edible plant commonly found in Florida). Phytol constituents have a mild, light floral, tea scent.

This article in PPAR Research, an indexed science citation journal, states that “terpenoids constitute one of the largest families of natural products accounting for more than 40,000 individual compounds of both primary and secondary metabolisms. In particular, terpenoids are contained in many herbal plants, and several terpenoids have been shown to be available for pharmaceutical applications. Various terpenoids are contained in many plants for not only herbal use but also dietary use.

This study concluded that “daily [ingestion] of these terpenoids might be useful for the management for obesity-induced metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases.

It is considered that such effects of phytol are valuable for the control of lipid abnormalities in common diseases including obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidemia.”

Phytol is known to stop the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. This report describes the efficacy of phytol to prevent parasites. Phytol is also known to produce a calming effect similar to that of green tea.

This study reported that “phytol produces antinociceptive activity in mice, suggesting central and peripheral effect, without changing the motor function of animals.”  

Phytol is considered a diterpene, present in cannabis extracts, as a breakdown product of chlorophyll and tocopherol. This report describes how phytol prevented vitamin A-induced teratogenesis (the process by which congenital malformations are produced in an embryo or fetus) by inhibiting conversion of retinol to a harmful metabolite, all-trans-retinoic acid.

Each cannabis strain contains a variety of terpenes. A strain which exhibits the phytol properties is Super Sour Diesel. As more research and cannabis quality testing is performed, phytol is likely to become recognized as one of the most beneficial terpenes.

When terpenes and cannabinoids interact together, there is a heightened efficacy for medical marijuana patients. Patients should speak with their certified medical marijuana physician to determine which strains and methods of consumption are most appropriate for their medical conditions.


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