How Terpenes Help Relax the Mind and Body

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All of us experienced anxiety at least once in our lives. Work and personal problems, as well as things that happen around us, often trigger anxiety. The year 2020 is a good example, no thanks to COVID-19.

The anxiety and fear it brought upon us during that time were beyond overwhelming. Unfortunately, this negative feeling will persist with or without the pandemic. It has been and will always be part of our lives, whether we like it or not.

Is there a product that relieves anxiety? Yes, it is called terpenes, a natural compound commonly found in various plants, trees, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Its use spans hundreds of years, mainly offering relief from pain. The smell of freshly peeled oranges, the invigorating scent of mornings, flowers, and leaves in early mornings—these familiar smells are all because of the wonders of terpenes.

Different types of terpenes and their benefits

Several types of terpenes naturally exist. However, scientists have only researched some of them. The most popular varieties include the following:

Linalool

This terpene is responsible for giving the lavender plant its distinct calming scent. Because of its soothing effect, linalool is often used in aromatherapy products, including essential oils. Studies reveal that linalool helps in reducing anxiety, and other health benefits such as:

  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-cancer

Limonene

Limonene is known for its citrusy scent. As its name suggests, limonene is present in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. The smell that wafts when you slice them is limonene working its magic. This natural compound is also safe to take as a health supplement and helps protect against certain illnesses such as cancer.

Aside from its distinct fruity smell, limonene also contains therapeutic properties such as:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Anti-cancer

Myrcene

Another common type of terpene is myrcene, found in thyme, lemongrass, and hop. Myrcene is a known antioxidant that aids in brain protection following a stroke. Researchers also found myrcene to be an excellent alternative treatment for ischemic stroke and helps in preventing osteoarthritis.

However, these studies involved excessive amounts of myrcene, which may not be recommended for everyday use, unless with a prescription from a doctor.

Humulene

This terpene is abundant in hop plants, ginger, and cloves. One study reveals that humulene can help prevent asthma and other allergic reactions and reduce allergic inflammation in animal models. A separate study also shows that it helps in protecting cells against cancers.

Pinene

In Japan, there is such a thing as Shirin-yoku. It is a type of natural therapy that means “forest bathing.” It involves taking leisurely walks in a forest and enjoying the refreshing smell of nature. This Japanese aromatherapy is said to help improve one’s mental health.

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It is pinene that works its magic when you smell basic, rosemary, and pine needles. This popular type of terpene has two forms: a-pinene and b-pinene. Pinene also has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps a person breathe better.

Beta-caryophyllene

This terpene commonly exists in black pepper and cloves. Like other types of terpenes, beta-caryophyllene has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. One study also reveals that beta-caryophyllene is effective in treating chronic pain.

Other types of terpenes include:

  • Geraniol (insect-repelling benefits)
  • Nerolidol (prevents the formation of fungus and tumors, antioxidant, and antibacterial)
  • Ocimene (decongestant and expectorant)
  • Phytol (antioxidant and antinociceptive)
  • Terpinolene (pain-relieving and antioxidant)

How terpenes can help with anxiety

Here are other ways terpenes can have positive effects on our mental health.

Relieves anxiety and improves sleep

People would often advise those who experience anxiety and insomnia to relax and have more sleep. In reality, it is easier said than done. Some people do suffer from chronic insomnia and anxiety, which affect their everyday lives.

Terpenes help lessen the physical and psychological effects of anxiety. Caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene are some of the best terpenes to use for people with anxiety and sleeping troubles.

Provides relief from stress

Adult life is already stressful enough. But this doesn’t mean you have to suffer from the effects of stress. Studies show that caryophyllene, a type of terpene, can help improve one’s mood and lessen the feeling of stress by triggering the CB2 receptors in our body, hence making someone more relaxed.

Plants such as hop, lemongrass, lavender, parsley, and citrus fruits are rich in terpenes. When inhaled, these terpenes help induce relaxation.

Promotes better focus and memory

Terpenes, especially pinene, caryophyllene, and limonene, help improve focus and energy levels. These terpenes are abundant in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Caryophyllene can also prevent conditions affecting brain function, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Improves mood

Terpenes are also available as essential oils and other aromatherapy products. Aromatherapy uses scents to provide health benefits. Aromatherapy products and treatments create feel-good chemicals like serotonin, which improves mood and health.

Other health benefits of terpenes

We already know how terpenes help relieve anxiety and promote better mental health. Aside from these, other health benefits of this natural compound to our body include the following.

Reduce the effects of allergic reactions

Studies have shown that humulene can help prevent asthma and allergic reactions. Researchers see this terpene as a potential natural treatment for asthma and allergies.

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Suppresses appetite

Aside from preventing allergic reactions, humulene can also help in suppressing appetite and boosting energy levels. This makes it an ideal ingredient for weight loss products, perfect for people who are struggling to maintain a healthy weight.

Sedative effects

Terpenes like linalool, caryophyllene, and limonene provide pain relief and have sedative effects. These compounds can help reduce pain and encourage better sleep. Meanwhile, pinene and terpinene have anticonvulsant and anxiolytic effects on the body.

Provides relief from inflammation and swelling

A study involving mice reported swelling reduction after being injected with terpene. Another research found that two types of terpenes—myrcene and pinene—can help boost the immune system.

Antimicrobial properties

Oxygenated terpenes have antimicrobial properties and help protect users from bacteria and viruses such as skin infections and respiratory illnesses.

Acts as a natural insect repellant

Limonene is commonly used as an ingredient for pesticides to control the infestation of ticks and fleas. Citronella oil is also a popular mosquito repellant in creams and sprays. Studies show that when citronella oil is combined with vanillin (present in vanilla beans), it can offer maximum protection from mosquito bites.

Improves skin health

Monoterpene such as camphor helps stimulate collagen and elastin production and lessen premature wrinkles due to sun exposure. Another terpene, caryophyllene, provides relief from skin issues such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. This shows that terpenes are also excellent natural compounds that will do wonders for your skin.

A word of caution

Several studies have already proven the positive effects of terpenes on physical and mental health. Depending on the application, these natural compounds offer therapeutic effects that alleviate pain, stress, and anxiety. However, researchers are still searching for answers to support these health claims.

Using products with terpenes may still have potential risks, especially among pregnant women. For one, it may cause complications and risks to the unborn child during its first three months. That is why you should consult a medical expert first before using any product with terpenes. When you do, use only the recommended amount in a given time.

Use terpenes for better overall health

Terpenes offer positive benefits for the mind and body. It already exists in nature and makes our daily lives more interesting. The citrusy scent of lemons, that invigorating smell of pines during a morning walk, or that calming scent of lavender—these are terpenes working their wonders.

These natural compounds can also alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress. Terpenes are here to ensure better health in the years to come.

 

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