Terpene Research Report - Part 1

Plant-based medicine has been used by humans for tens of thousands of years, in all populated regions of the Earth. Over the last several decades, there has been a renewal of interest in natural remedies as an alternative to the pharmaceutical drugs. Scientists from around the planet begun to research the compounds that make these plants so effective. Many of the plants’ healing superpowers come from the Terpenes.

With more than 40,000 different molecules known, terpenes are the largest family of natural compounds in nature.(*) These organic compounds are a part of what gives every fruit, vegetable or plant we consume their unique flavor and scent.

Research has shown that terpenes interact with most, if not all the regulatory systems throughout the body. They can modulate such important functions as sleep, mood, appetite, the immune system and overall homeostasis. Terpenes have also been shown to target pain in different ways, both relieving it (as an analgesic & anti-inflammatory) and blocking it (as an antinociceptive).

The cannabis plant family, throughout its diverse genetics, has one of the most abundant variety of terpenes found in nature. We begin by covering the terpenes which are most abundantly present in the Lock & Key Remedies products: Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Limonene, Linalool, Pinene, Humulene and Terpinolene. 

It is important to note that most of the existing research has been done on terpenes that were derived from non-cannabis plants.  We look forward to seeing the results of the ongoing research that is now being conducted on Cannabis derived terpenes, to see if they possess any additional superpowers.

We have taken excerpts from studies that have been conducted for each of the terpenes, followed by a direct link to the actual research. The terpenes are subcategorized by the researched effects. 

Here is what we have so far:      



Terpene most prevalent in Mango, Parsley & Lemongrass.

Effect: Relieving and Blocking Pain 


Analgesic - “a remedy that relieves or allays pain.” (*) “an agent for producing insensibility to pain without loss of consciousness” (*)

Antinociceptive - “The action or process of blocking the detection of a painful or injurious stimulus by sensory neurons” (*) 


“Myrcene is analgesic, and such activity, in contrast to cannabinoids, is blocked by naloxone suggesting an opioid-like mechanism” - (Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Ribeirão Preto Campus, Brazil.)

"Terpenes such as myrcene may constitute a lead for the development of new peripheral analgesics with a profile of action different from that of the aspirin-like drugs. (Ethan B Russo, GW Pharmaceuticals, Vashon, WA, USA)

The results suggest that myrcene is capable of inducing antinociception in mice, probably mediated by a2-adrenoceptor stimulated release of endogenous opioids.”

(Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil) 

Effect: Anti-inflammatory

Definition - acting to reduce certain signs of inflammation, as swelling, tenderness, fever, and pain.


“Myrcene has significant anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects in human chondrocytes and, thus, its ability to halt or, at least, slow down cartilage destruction and osteoarthritis progression warrants further investigation.” (Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Faculty of Pharmacy)

Effect: Sedative 

Definition - Having a soothing, calming, or tranquilizing effect; reducing or relieving anxiety, stress, irritability, or excitement.


“Our study showed that citral, limonene and myrcene presented sedative as well as motor relaxant effects.” (Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals - Bisset & Wichtl, 2004)



Terpene most prevalent in Rosemary, Black Pepper & Hops.

Effect: Anti-inflammatory with increased mucosal protection of the stomach and small intestine lining. 

Definition -  The term 'cytoprotection' means protection against gastric mucosal injury by a mechanism other than inhibition or neutralisation of gastric acid. (*)


“beta-caryophyllene elicited anti-inflammatory effects without any indication of gastric mucosal damage typical of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Furthermore, this compound manifested cytoprotective effects, rendering the two-dimensional efficacious beta-caryophyllene to be a clinically safe and potentially useful agent.” (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyoto University, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606, Japan)

Effect: Analgesic during Chemotherapy 


“Effectively attenuated painful peripheral neuropathy associated with chemotherapy medication” (Department of Pharmacology, Biological Sciences Centre, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil)

Effect: Anti-inflammatory & Anti-Arthritic


“Anti-inflammatory study is suggestive that Beta-Caryophyllene has prominent anti-arthritic activity which may be attributed to its antiinflammatory activity.” (Dept. of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Anurag Group of Institutions,Ghatkesar, Hyderabad, Telangana, India)

Effect: Anticancer Activities


“Possess significant anticancer activities, affecting growth and proliferation of numerous cancer cells”  “due to the fact that chronic pain is often an element of cancer disease, the double activity of BCP, anticancer and analgesic, as well as its beneficial influence on the efficacy of classical chemotherapeutics, is particularly valuable in oncology.(Laboratory of Tumor Molecular Immunobiology, Ludwik Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland)

Effect: Neuroprotective 


“These results indicate that BCP acts via multiple neuroprotective mechanisms in our murine model and suggest that BCP may be viewed as a potential treatment and/or preventative agent for Parkinson's disease.” (Departamento de Farmacobiología CUCEI, Universidad de Guadalajara, 44430 Guadalajara, Mexico)

“The present study suggests that BCP has the potential therapeutic efficacy to elicit significant neuroprotection by its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities mediated by activation of the CB2 receptors.” (Departments of Biochemistry, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates Universityy)



Terpene most prevalent in citrus fruits, juniper berries and peppermint.

Effect: Antidepressant 


“In our previous experiments on animals evidence was found that citrus fragrance can restore the stress-induced immunosuppression, suggesting that citrus fragrance may have an effect on restoring the homeostatic balance. [ . . . ] It was given to 12 depressive subjects and the results indicated that the doses of antidepressants necessary for the treatment of depression could be markedly reduced. The treatment with citrus fragrance normalized neuroendocrine hormone levels and immune function and was rather more effective than antidepressants.” (Department of Psychiatry, Mie University School of Medicine, Japan)

Effect: Cancer Apoptosis 

Definition - Form of cell death, also known as programmed cell death, in which a ‘suicide’ program is activated within the cell, leading to fragmentation of the DNA, shrinkage of the cytoplasm, membrane changes and cell death without lysis or damage to neighboring cells. It is a normal phenomenon, occurring frequently in a multicellular organism. (*)


“[ . . . ] we investigated the effects of d-limonene on colon cancer cell viability and its potential mechanism of action in vitro. After 48 h of treatment, d-limonene suppressed the viability of LS174T cells in a dose-dependent manner and caused a dose-dependent apoptotic cell death.” (Department of Breast Surgery, the Third Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Cancer Research Institute, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, PR China)

“The active principle identified in fruit and vegetables and the molecular targets modulated may be the basis for how these dietary agents [limonene, amongst others] not only prevent but also treat cancer and other diseases. This work reaffirms what Hippocrates said 25 centuries ago, let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” (Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas)

“Although, the anticancer activity of d-limonene has identified nearly two decades ago, it has recently attracted much more attention in translational medicine. In this chapter, we will overview the anticancer effects of POH and d-limonene.” (Department of Biochemistry, Recombinant Protein Laboratory, Medical School, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran)

Effect: Inhalation of Limonene May Reduce Allergic Airway Inflammation


“Limonene is one of the main flavonoids which is reported to inhibit the inflammatory response by suppressing the production of reactive oxygen species. [ . . . ] These results indicate that limonene has a potential to reduce airway remodeling and [airway hyperresponsiveness] in asthma model.” (Department of Environmental Medicine, Kochi Medical School, Kohasu, Oko, Nankoku, Japan)

“...it was found that limonene and the ozone–limonene reaction mixture reduced allergic inflammation possibly due to antioxidant properties. [ . . . ] antiinflammatory properties of the tested limonene-containing pollutants might attenuate airway allergy” (Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark)



Terpene most prevalent in Lavender & Jasmine.

Effect: Reversal of conditions within Alzheimer's Disease  


“Linalool reverses neuropathological and behavioral impairments in old triple transgenic Alzheimer's mice. [ . . . ] mice showed improved learning and spatial memory and greater risk assessment behavior during the elevated plus maze. [ . . . ] our findings suggest that linalool reverses the histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease and restores cognitive and emotional functions via an anti-inflammatory effect. Thus, linalool may be an Alzheimer's disease prevention candidate for preclinical studies.” (Neuroscience Group of Antioquia, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, Medellin, Colombia)

Effect: Anticonvulsant


“Psychopharmacological in vivo evaluation of linalool showed that this compound has dose-dependent marked sedative effects at the central nervous system (CNS), including hypnotic, anticonvulsant and hypothermic properties. It has been suggested that these neurochemical effects might be ascribed to the local anaesthetic activity of linalool.(Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Laboratory of Pharmacology, University of Ancona, 60131, Ancona, Italy)

Effect: Antidepressant 

“Linalool and ß-pinene exert their antidepressant-like activity through the monoaminergic pathway” (Laboratorio de Farmacología Conductual, Dpto. Biología de la Reproducción, D.C.B.S. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, México)

Effect: Anti-inflammatory & Antinociceptive 

“[Linalool] possesses anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, and other bioactive properties. The results suggest that linalool inhibits inflammation both in vitro and in vivo, and may be a potential therapeutic candidate for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.” (College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Jilin University, Changchun, China)

Effect: Anti-tumor 

“The results of the present study suggest that [Linalool]  may improve the therapeutic index of anthracyclines in the management of breast cancer, especially in MDR tumors.”

(Department of Structural and Functional Biology, Section of Pharmacology, University of Insubria, Via A. da Giussano 10, Busto Arsizio, Varese, Italy.)

Effect: Sedative 

“We also examined the effects of (R)-(-)-linalool, one of [jazmine tea’s] major odor components, at the same concentration as in the tea, and (S)-(+)-linalool. Only (R)-(-)-linalool elicited a significant decrease in heart rate (P < 0.05) and an increase in high-frequency component in comparison with the controls, and produced calm and vigorous mood states.”

Laboratory of Nutrition Chemistry, Division of Food Science and Biotechnology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa Oiwake-cho, Japan.


pinene.pngpine_cones_pine_needles_tap_tree_conifer_close_macro-1187146 (1).jpg!dbasil.jpgdill.jpg

Terpene most prevalent in pine needles, basil and dill

Effect: Anti-tumor 

“The a-pinene is a natural compound isolated from pine needle oil which has shown anti-cancer activity. [ . . . ]  The results show that liver cancer cell growth was inhibited obviously with inhibitory rate of 79.3% in vitro and 69.1% in vivo [ . . . ]  Although late-stage tumor growth cannot be controlled using a-pinene alone, its combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs might reduce drug resistance and prolong survival time of cancer patients.” (School of Basic Courses, Guangdong Pharmaceutical University, China)

Effect: Antidepressant

“Linalool and ß-pinene exert their antidepressant-like activity through the monoaminergic pathway” (Laboratorio de Farmacología Conductual, Dpto. Biología de la Reproducción, D.C.B.S. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, México)

Effect: Anti-Infectious Bronchitis Virus

“Results presented here may suggest that (-)-a-pinene and (-)-ß-pinene possess anti-IBV properties, and therefore are a potential source of anti-IBV ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry.” (Key Laboratory of Forest Plant Ecology, Ministry of Education, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin 150040, China.)



Terpene most prevalent in hops, ginseng, and sunflowers.

Effect: Anti-inflammatory & Antinociceptive  

a-Humulene, given either orally or by aerosol, exhibited marked anti-inflammatory properties in a murine model of airways allergic inflammation, an effect that seemed to be mediated via reduction of inflammatory mediators, adhesion molecule expression and transcription factors activation. (Departamento de Farmacologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, SC, Brazil) 

All these findings indicate that alpha-humulene and (-)-trans-caryophyllene, derived from the essential oil of C. verbenacea, might represent important tools for the management and/or treatment of inflammatory diseases. (Departamento de Farmacologia-Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina SC, Brazil)

 It is concluded that alpha-humulene exhibited a rapid onset and relatively good absorption following oral and topical administration. Taken together, these findings further contribute to an explanation of the topical and systemic anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties previously reported for the essential oil and for alpha-humulene obtained from Cordia verbenacea...  (Departamento de Farmacologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, SC, Brazil)



Terpene most prevalent in Cumin, Oregano and Sage

Effect: Anti-Cancer

“Increased expression and/or activation of AKT is involved in a variety of human cancers. In cells treated with sage or rosemary extract, mRNA and protein expression levels of AKT1 were reduced compared with those of the control cells 48 h after the herbal treatments. We found that terpinolene, a common component of sage and rosemary, [and cannabis] markedly reduced the protein expression of AKT1 in K562 cells and inhibited cell proliferation.” (Department of Environmental Health Science, Nara Women's University, Japan) 

“Our findings clearly demonstrate that [terpinolene] is a potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumour cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent, which needs to be further studied.” (Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Croatia)

Effect: Antimicrobial 

“In particular, data show that 1,8-cineol, terpinen-4-ol and methyl eugenol play the key role in mediating this oil's antimicrobial activity.” (Phytochemistry Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.)

Effect: Antioxidant 

“In conclusion, [terpinolene] can be a new resource of therapeutics as recognized in this study with its non-genotoxic and antioxidant features.” (Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Faculty of Science Erzurum Technical University, Turkey)

“Terpinolene effectively prevent[s] low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-oxidation” (Institute of Vegetable Science, Life Science Center Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany)

Effect: Anti-inflammatory & Antinociceptive  

“Association of terpinolene and diclofenac presents antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory synergistic effects in a model of chronic inflammation” (Núcleo de Pesquisas em Plantas Medicinais, Universidade Federal do Piauí, Teresina, PI, Brasil)

Effect: Sedative 

“The sedative effect of inhaled terpinolene in mice” (Department of Pharmacognosy, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Science, Kyoto University, Japan)

This concludes the first edition of our Terpene Research Report. We aim to create an easy-to-reference repository of terpene research, searchable by condition and effect. 

Stay tuned! 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.