Cannabis 101, Cannabis Lifestyle

Terpenes and Mental Health: How Cannabis Can Help with Anxiety and Depression


  • Cannabinoids are terpenes 
  • Some terpenes can interact with cannabinoid receptors. 
  • Terpenes can influence how cannabinoids interact with receptors. 
  • The effect of cannabinoids is determined by dosage, mode of administration, the health status of the user, and compounds present in the product. 


Terpenes are aroma compounds that give plants their peculiar smell or scent. They form an important part of cannabis medicine by determining product aroma and how cannabinoids can interact with receptors. Although they have been widely described as aroma compounds, terpenes also possess the ability to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors and may also possess one therapeutic benefit or the other. 

As bioactive compounds in plants, terpenes can interact singly or synergistically with other compounds to promote healthy human living. They engage several receptors responsible for mental health, digestion, circulation, homeostasis or internal balance, excretion, and many more. The combined effect of terpenes and other compounds is called an entourage effect. 

The entourage effect refers to the combined effect between terpenes, cannabinoids, and other bioactive compounds in the cannabis plant. It plays a critical role in determining the number of receptors involved and the overall effect of cannabinoids in specific health conditions like mental health. This has been the major player in the increased interest in cannabis and mental health. 

Some terpenes like alpha-pinene and linalool have been reported to have potential support for mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Before we proceed, it is important to note that cannabinoids are terpenes too. They are singled out due to their ability to specifically interact with CB receptors of the cannabinoid system. 

Phuket cannabis and other cannabis experts in Thailand have discovered the potential role of cannabinoids and terpenes in relieving mental disorders. This article will look at the common interaction of terpenes and cannabinoids for mental health.

Understanding Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are the most common mental disorders affecting 3 out of 10 adults globally. Information from the WHO shows that anxiety and depression is the leading cause of death in most adults aged 15-29. 

Anxiety and depression represent one of Thailand’s most common mental health conditions, with millions of children and adults as victims. Over 15 million youths aged over 15 years were diagnosed with clinical depression in 2021 with the number of psychological cases increasing by 1-2% annually. 
Anxiety and depression can lead to several diseases, including digestive disorders, heart diseases, obesity, and chronic pain. Other health conditions include respiratory illnesses, thyroid, and substance use disorders.

Depression has been identified as one of Thailand’s top 12 causes of disease burden. It is among the leading cause of Disability-Adjusted Life years (DALY) lost in Thai families after cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, respectively. 

As deadly as it seems, anxiety and depression can be treatable. While the current treatment methods are focused on the use of antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anti-anxiety medications. While these medications can help people deal with anxiety and depression, they are often characterized by several side effects, some of which can be deadly. To mitigate these side effects people are now turning to nature-based medicine like cannabis for solace. 

The Endocannabinoid System and Terpenes

While we are familiar with the digestive, circulatory, endocrine, skeletal, muscular, and many other body systems, there is limited information on the system that keeps the other systems together in perfect harmony. 

Contrary to popular belief, the endocannabinoid system is not limited to cannabis alone. It is a homeostatic system that provides balance in our bodies. It is responsible for modulating the activity of other systems and is directly linked to cognitive activities like internal balance, hunger, appetite, pain perception, and many more. While the cannabis industry has focused on two major cannabinoid receptors (the CB1 and CB2 receptors), it is pertinent to note that there are over nine cannabinoid receptors that can be activated by terpenes and cannabinoids hence their potential roles in mental disorders. 

The interaction between cannabinoids, terpenes, and the ECS receptors can affect emotions in several ways. For instance, the entourage effect limits the psychoactive effect of THC and may lead to a lower psychotropic effect on users. The combination of terpenes and cannabinoids can boost immunity while limiting the activity of neurotransmitters responsible for anxiety and depression. 

The Role of Terpenes in Cannabis

Terpenes and cannabinoids are secondary metabolites in the cannabis plant. They are formed as the plant’s response to biotic and abiotic stressors in the environment. During growth, the cannabis plant identifies a need to protect itself. It ends up secreting aroma compounds to wade off pests and invaders while also protecting itself against the harsh climatic conditions in the environment. Some common stressors that lead to terpene production include but are not limited to temperature, humidity, pH, exposure to light, pests, and disease invasion. 

Apart from giving cannabis products their peculiar smell or aroma, terpenes also determine how cannabinoids interact with receptors. Some terpenes like myrcene, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, alpha-pinene, and linalool have been identified to increase the absorption rate of cannabinoids in the body. 

Common terpenes found in the cannabis plant and their potential benefits 

There are over 150 terpenes in the cannabis plant, each with a unique aroma and function. Some of the most common terpenes and their role in the cannabis plant are discussed below; 

Myrcene: This is the mother of cannabis terpenes because it is the most abundant and most identified terpene in the cannabis plant. It has an earthy, fruity, and clove-like smell. Myrcene can intensify the effect of THC and other psychotropic cannabinoids. It is also present in mangoes, thus suggesting why taking mangoes and cannabis can intensify your high. Myrcene possess an antioxidant, anticonvulsant and sedative effect. 

Beta-caryophyllene (BCP): This is often described as a cannabinoid since it can interact with CB2 receptors. BCP promotes the absorption of cannabinoids by the body and contributes to the analgesic and anti-seizure effects of cannabis. It has a spicy and peppery aroma. 

Limonene: as the name implies, limonene is abundant in lemon and other citrus plants. It supports the activity of cannabinoids by providing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antinociceptive, anticancer, antidiabetic, antihyperalgesic, antiviral, and gastroprotective effects. 

Linalool: it is responsible for the spicy, woody, and floral aroma in cannabis plants. It can combine with cannabinoids to promote sleep and reduce anxiety and depression. 

Alpha-Pinene: pinene is abundant in pine fruits and has been identified in cannabis plants. It has a turpentine odor and contributes to the therapeutic benefit of cannabis by increasing its anti-inflammatory effects. 

Cannabis for Anxiety and Depression

Several researchers have widely promoted the potential role of cannabis for mental disorders. These benefits are attributed to the role of cannabinoids in interacting with CB1 receptors. 

Cannabinoids exhibit a biphasic effect. This is when they produce different effects at different doses. For instance, THC is known to lower anxiety levels at low doses but significantly increase anxiety at higher concentrations. If you want to use cannabis for anxiety and depression, then it is important to start small and go slow. 

Some of the common roles of cannabinoids in anxiety and depression include but are not limited to the following; 

  • Pain relief 
  • Keep mind and body relaxed
  • Formation of new brain cells via neurogenesis
  • Reduces stress
  • Improved sleep 

How to use cannabis for anxiety and depression 

Interested in using cannabis for anxiety and depression? Here are some recommendations from Phuket Cannabis. Note that these recommendations are from research and not our personal opinion. 

  1. Identify your cannabis sweet spot. This can be achieved by micro-dosing. 
  2. Focus on edibles and tinctures as they provide a longer effect.  
  3. Keep your dosage low. It is important to always start small and go slow. No need to rush it. 
  4. Focus on full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products since they can activate more receptors. 
  5. See a certified medical cannabis expert. 

Factors that can influence the cannabis experience

The following factors determine your cannabis experience; 

Dosage: cannabinoids produce different effects at different doses. 
Strain: cannabis strains contain varying degrees of cannabinoids and terpenes. Choose a strain that meets your needs. Focus on sativa-dominant strains. 
Method of consumption: cannabis edibles and tinctures tend to have a longer effect on users. 
Health status: The presence of an underlying condition can affect the ECS and reduce its ability to interact with receptors. 

Side effects of cannabis for anxiety and depression 

While the side effects of cannabis can be minimal, users have reported the following side effects when using cannabis, especially at high doses. These side effects include; 

  1. Dry mouth 
  2. Mood changes
  3. Cravings
  4. Irritability 


The role of terpenes cannot be overemphasized. These aroma compounds interact with receptors and improve how our bodies react to cannabinoids. 
Caution: do not use cannabis with prescription medication, as this may lead to several side effects, including death. Consult with a medical cannabis expert before embarking on your cannabis journey. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 

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