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D-limonene: Leveraging Terpenoids to Reduce Cannabis Consumption Anxiety

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Cannabis-induced anxiety is a real problem for some people – leading many to prefer low-THC strains that are less likely to induce anxious or paranoid feelings. Unfortunately, this also may cost them other benefits of THC that could be medicinally useful, especially for those treating chronic conditions like arthritis or Parkinson’s, where THC has been found useful. Researchers found a possible solution in the terpene D-limonene, which shows potential in reducing cannabis consumption-related anxiety.

A Federally Backed Study Found A Terpene that May Reduce THC-Induced Anxiety

The study itself was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependance. The researchers and authors of the study include researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Cashon, and the Washington-based CReDO Science.

“Given the growing interest in the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and expanding legalization of cannabis for nonmedicinal purposes, further understanding of which constituents may increase the safety profile of cannabis by attenuating acute adverse effects (e.g., anxiety and paranoia), and which constituents may exacerbate adverse effects, is paramount for advancing the use of cannabinoids in medicine and, more broadly, protecting public health.”

Key Points from the Study:

  • D-limonene was found to reduce THC-induced anxiety
  • Use of D-limonene did not affect other effects of THC
  • There were no adverse or added medicinal benefits to D-limonene alone

“The results of the present study suggest that the development of novel cannabis product formulations high in D-limonene could be a viable and relatively straightforward strategy to widen the therapeutic window of medicinal cannabis and/or THC and potentially reduce adverse effects associated with non-medicinal cannabis use.”

What is D-Limonene and Does It Really Curb Anxiety?

D-Limonene is a terpene that is found not only in cannabis but also in a wide variety of plants. It is responsible for citrusy flavors and aromas. In this particular case, researchers were using isolated THC and D-limonene and administering it to their test subjects via a vaporizer.

The study included 20 healthy volunteer participants, broken into four groups, who underwent nine double-blind outpatient sessions over the course of the study.

One group was vaporizing THC only (15mg or 30mg), one vaped D-limonene only (1mg or 5mg), and another got those same doses of THC and D-Limonene together (15:1mg and 30:5mg THC:d-limonene), and the last group got a placebo (water vapor). A subset of 12 participants also completed a tenth session in which they were all administered 30mg THC and 15mg D-limonene.

Researchers tested the effects of cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood ratings, vital signs, and plasma THC and d-limonene concentrations. This was done as a baseline before the first session and over the course of six hours after each session.

Their findings were clear – combining D-limonene with THC significantly reduced any indicators or reports of THC-induced anxiety among participants, and the reductions were greater with the higher dose of D-limonene.

Do Other Terpenes Help with Anxiety?

According to the Marijuana Moment, the report says it’s “among the first clinical studies to demonstrate the validity of the cannabis entourage effect, which theorizes that THC and other constituents of the plant interact in meaningful ways that alter acute cannabis effects.”

According to NORML, researchers published in the journal Biochemical Pharmacology found that terpenes including borneol, geraniol, limonene, linalool, ocimene, sabinene, and terpineol all that the potential to help moderate THC activity once it reaches the CB1 receptors.

“This study is a first step in uncovering how we can mitigate risks of THC when used in medicine, and also is targeted at making cannabis safer for the general, non-therapeutic consumer,” says study lead author Tory Spindle, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

These studies are a huge step forward in cannabis research, possibly making the medicinal benefits of THC an option for those who previously had to avoid it for fear of increased anxiety and paranoia. Hopefully, the inevitable rescheduling of cannabis will allow more studies like this to become a reality so we can better understand this versatile medicinal herb.

Julia Granowicz-Johnson is a founder, copywriter, and journalism blogger with a passion for the cannabis plant and its uses in personal wellness and medicine. She advocates for the reform of cannabis laws around the globe through her writing and aims to bring attention to the negative impacts that prohibition has left in its wake.