Terpenes–these powerful compounds can be found in nearly everything you can smell or eat. Aside from helping create and amplify a host of aromas and flavors, they have also played a role in the ever-growing field of scientific and medical research.
It is thanks to these research efforts that we now know terpenes can also have potential effects on your health. Aside from extensive studies that aim to further incorporate these compounds into medicine and treatments, many wellness products are also infused with terpenes. While they may not be cures, they may be able to offer a range of effects on your wellbeing.
So, what can terpenes do to elevate your health? This infographic will discuss some of the medical benefits that terpenes have to offer and which terpene profiles you can get them from.
Understanding the Medical Benefits of Terpenes
Terpenes offer a host of medical benefits for both physical and mental health. Knowing which terpene profiles provide which type of effects is key to getting the most out of your terpene products.
Antibacterial and Antifungal
A number of studies have found that several types of terpenes have antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
The study found sixteen terpenes–including thymol, eugenol, carveol, terpineol, and limonene–to have antibacterial properties. Eugenol was one of two terpenes that were the most potent at inhibiting bacterial growth.
Six of the sixteen terpenes were also found to have bactericidal properties. This means that the compounds actively reduced the bacterial population, rather than just slow bacterial growth. This study also found that terpineol and eugenol had strong effects on salmonella and S. aureus. Meanwhile, carveol was shown to be effective against E. coli at higher dosages. This means that these terpenes can be used to treat food-related medical conditions, such as food poisoning and typhoid.
Some terpenes are also able to affect the parasite cell membrane, causing lysis. Limonene is effective against parasites as it targets the active isoprenoid pathway of parasites, greatly damaging its biological processes.
Terpenes that are effective against bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms include:
Some terpenes show anti-inflammatory capabilities, particularly the ability to lessen the amounts of signaling chemicals your immune cells produce. Excess amounts of signaling chemicals can cause unnecessary inflammation in the body and eventually lead to cell death.
These terpenes also showed pain inhibition characteristics like mitigating tenderness in swollen areas. In a study of terpenoid-rich essential oils, these terpenes were observed to be highly effective at pain relief both in in-vitro and in-vivo experiments. The study suggests that these compounds can be used to treat acute inflammation, as opposed to chronic inflammation.
Some terpenes with possible anti-inflammatory effects include:
Terpenes are well-known in cancer treatment research for their anti-cancer activity. These activities include causing apoptosis in cancer cells and interrupting the cell cycle, preventing them from proliferating. These chemical reactions can often differ, depending on the targeted receptors or signaling chemicals.
While terpenes are administered differently across studies, they have been found to work against several different types of cancer. These include cancers of the colon, brain, prostate gland, bone, lungs, breast, and skin.
Researchers continue to investigate the specific mechanics, but limonene has been observed with strong cancer inhibition activity. Meanwhile, thymoquinone has been proven to be effective against several cancers such as breast cancer, skin cancer, non–small cell lung cancer, bile duct cancer, and brain cancer.
Many other terpenes have also been studied, resulting in cytotoxic effects, making them promising components for cancer treatments.
The following terpenes have demonstrated promising anti-cancer properties:
Aside from stopping the growth of bacteria and cancer, another observed quality of certain terpenes is their counter effects on diabetes.
Most notably, andrographolide is a terpene component of the leaves of A. paniculata, which has the effect of reducing blood plasma glucose and increasing glucose utilization by activating the receptors responsible for controlling these functions. Alongside this, the compound has the side effect of preventing the onset of diabetic retinopathy, a secondary complication of the disease. This occurs through the compound’s ability to reduce the inflammation caused by diabetes.
Another terpene, curcumin, is able to reduce inflammation and activate essential liver enzymes responsible for breaking glucose down, creating glucose, and lipid metabolism. Additionally, it reduces the effect of many other diabetes-related complications such as retinopathy, microangiopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy.
The best terpenes for anti-diabetic effects include:
Several studies have tested the effectiveness of terpenes against human viruses. In one study, these terpenes were found to have been virucidal against three major human viruses: herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV1), dengue virus type 2, and Junin virus. This means that the compounds have actively reduced the instances of the virus within the body.
Another study discovered that certain plant-based essential oils had antiviral effects on HSV1 and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS CoV). These oils carried a variety of terpenes–including alpha and beta-pinene–as their major components.
For products with potential antiviral effects, look out for the following terpenes:
- Alpha- and beta-pinene
Aside from physical health, terpenes can also work towards providing treatments for mental health. Several studies have observed that terpenes are becoming a viable option for addressing depression.
According to research, linalool and beta-pinene interact with the pathway receptors for serotonin and adrenaline. Beta-pinene also activates the dopamine receptors, which is consistent with how most antidepressant drugs available on the market tend to take effect.
Meanwhile, beta-caryophyllene can curb depression by interacting with the CB2 receptor. This receptor in the brain is critical in the processes to regulate depressive-related disorders.
Another terpene that has effective antidepressant properties is hyperforin. Like other antidepressants, hyperforin works by impeding the brain’s uptake of mood regulators such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. In addition, the compound has its own unique mechanism of controlling depression by inhibiting the neurotransmitters’ uptake of certain chemicals.
Key terpenes that provide these antidepressant effects are:
Tapping into Terpenes for Wellness
Terpenes–found nearly everywhere in nature–have entered the spotlight for their unique properties, becoming key ingredients to a host of products. Within the realm of research, these compounds are showing much promise for providing medicinal benefits.
While these results provide evidence for terpenes’ positive effects, more studies need to be done to fully understand how well these compounds work as treatments for certain conditions and diseases. However, current research makes it clear that these claims are a step in the right direction. As science and technology continue to progress, so will our understanding of how expansive these benefits are.
Whether you’re buying terpene products or making your own mixtures, it pays to stay safe. Always purchase from verified authentic terpene manufacturers like Medical Terpenes for terpenes that give you the safest, best quality experience.