Adaptogens are an up and coming addition to wellness in the realm of western homeopathic medicine. They are known as non-toxic plants that help the body avoid physical, biological, or chemical stressors. The herbs and roots that are “adaptogens” have been circulating Chinese and Ayurvedic cultures for hundreds to thousands of years. While some are usually used as supplements, some can be incorporated into meals or brewed into teas.
The Albizia Bark and flower is known as “the tree of happiness” and is often used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is known to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. The bark from the tree is said to calm the body and the flower is used to calm the mind. There have been many benefits to albizia bark such as cancer prevention, and aiding insomnia. It can also be applied to the skin to treat insect bites or skin infections as well as sprains or muscle injuries.
Ashwagandha is a plant that has been used in medicinal purposes for at least three thousand years. It is an adaptogen herb known, in ancient chines literature, to calm the heart and quiet the spirit and mind. It operates as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, meaning that it increases the availability of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) in the body. It can also embody the properties of the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid, “GABA”, by relaxing the body.
Bacopa Monnieri is influential herb in India, found in Ayurvedic herbalism that has been around for thousands of years. Within the brain, Bacopa Monnieri enhances the communication of brain chemicals and aids in cognition, learning, and memory as well as helping to inhibit inflammation in the brain.
Black pepper oil is extremely rich in terpenes, vitamins, and minerals and has many beneficial medicinal qualities that are unexpected from such a common kitchen spice. Some of the vitamins and minerals it contains are calcium, manganese, iron, phosphorous, potassium, etc. It is specifically great at providing relief for cramps and muscle spasms as well as inflammation for treating arthritis and gout. Black pepper oil also detoxifies the body and promotes healthy digestion by invoking urination and gastric contractions as well as helps to treat/ prevent bacterial infections of the mouth, colon, digestive system, and urinary tract.
Cannabinoids are defined as a class of diverse chemical compounds that have an effect on the endocannabinoid system due to their influence on neurotransmitter release in the brain. Two of the most well-known and influential cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There are at least 110 other cannabinoids within the cannabis plant besides these two, but they are not nearly as influential or important so far. Cannabinoids have been proven to be effective for antipsychotic, analgesic (pain relief), neuroprotective, anticonvulsant (reduces epilletic events or other seizure events), antiemetic (prevents vomiting/ nausea), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiartritic, and antineoplastic (prevents tumor development) treatments with much fewer side effects than other medications.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is the component of Cannabis sativa that encompasses most of the healing properties from the plant without any psychoactive elements. It has been known to clear the mind, decrease inflammation, alleviate anxiety, and heal other chronic conditions.
Cannabinol (CBN) is another important cannabinoid in hemp that is known for its sedating effects as well as its therapeutic addition to the “entourage effect” present in full spectrum hemp oil. CBN occurs naturally in the plant as it matures or when THC is exposed to oxygen or heated. Unlike other sedating medications or supplements, CBN both decreases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and increases the quality and length of sleep without a sense of drowsiness in the morning. This is caused by the extremely mild psychoactive effect that creates the sense of sleepiness which has an effect comparable to diazepam. It also has many anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Medical research is starting to be conducted around its potential uses for cancer and epileptic episodes.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is one of the most important and promising cannabinoids in recent research. When interacting with the endocannabinoid system, CBC binds to the receptors in the brain that perceive pain, meaning that CBC could offer pain relief comparable to most painkillers, without the side effects. It is also being explored in medical research as a possible alternative for anti-inflammatory benefits related to arthritis.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is another important non-psychoactive cannabinoid within hemp. Most strains contain only trace amounts of CBG (1%), however, its properties may still prove to be extremely beneficial for medicinal purposes. More research is needed to make a conclusive statement. However, it operates in the endocannabinoid system with both CB1 and CB2 receptors to increase dopamine levels as well as help regulate sleep and appetite. CBG has been researched for treating glaucoma, cancer, and MRSA.
Cordyceps are a fungus found on certain caterpillars within the high mountain regions of China. Because natural Cordyceps are so difficult to locate, most modern uses are laboratory grown. Cordyceps, in ancient Chinese herbalism, is known to treat fatigue during exercise, tumor growth, reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and decrease blood sugar for type 2 diabetics. It is also said to improve libido as well as having anti-aging properties.
Celastrus is a wild shrub that is referred to as the “elixir of life” in Ayurvedic medicine and has been circulating Indian medicine for thousands of years. It is used to enhance mental function and promote heart health as well as treating asthma, brain health, memory, cancer growth and leprosy. It can also be used topically to relieve pain from arthritis and skin inflammation.
Camphor is one of the most useful terpenes which is extracted from the wood of the camphor tree and used for many medicinal purposes. It is most commonly placed into creams, ointments, and lotions as an anti-aging mechanism by improving blood circulation and boosting collagen in the skin. It is also known for relieving skin irritation, having anti-inflammatory properties, and antibacterial properties. Camphor has a feeling similar to icy-hot when rubbed into the skin and has pain relieving and muscle relaxing potential when applied. It is useful for all over the body and can even help relieve chest congestion. It is important not to put camphor products on open wounds, however it is helpful when treating scrapes and burns.
Delta-3 Carene is a terpene with a sweet and earthy aroma with undertones that resemble pine. It is present in plants such as rosemary, bell peppers, basil, and cedar, as well as cannabis. There are many medical benefits within this terpene such as antihistamines (allergy aid), anti-inflammatory, bone health, memory retention and mental sharpness. Medical research has specifically been done around the potential benefits for fibromyalgia, arthritis and osteoporosis as well.
The Endocannabinoid System is responsible for regulating the neurotransmitters and influencing the neuron communication within the body, specifically in response to the presence of cannabinoids. The system plays an essential role in the development of the central nervous system as well as synaptic plasticity (learning and memory). It is composed of receptors, endocannabinoids, and the enzymes needed for the creation and degradation of endocannabinoids. The main receptors used to mediate endocannabinoids are CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the central nervous system, specifically in the in the cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus, and cerebellum. There, they are present in the axon terminals and pre-terminal axon segments, towards where they connect. It directs cognitive actions related to coordination, mood, thinking, memory, and appetite. CB2 receptors on the other hand are not nearly as present in the CNS as CB1 and are found in the vascular (blood carrying) and microglia (immune defense) segments of the body to regulate pain and inflammation.
The Entourage Effect is a concept suggesting that one isolated molecule from the hemp plant is not enough to grasp the entire potential. Instead, all of the compounds are magnified when they are extracted and presented together. This allows the seemingly “inactive” metabolites and other molecules to increase their own presence as well as the other components. While most goals in the pharmacological industry is to isolate the individual components of hemp, the minor cannabinoids and terpenes present provide a better result than one isolated compound does. It has been tested in many clinical settings and the same result has been gathered: isolated components do not vary greatly from the placebo whereas the whole plant extracts show a great statistical significance.
For example, one meta analysis measured the effects of purified CBD compared to the effects of “CBD-rich” extracts containing other cannabinoids and terpenes. The Fischer Test was used to analyze 670 epilleptic patients, 447 of which took CBD-rich products and the other 223 took purified CBD products. The CBD-rich patients showed a 71% seizure reduction over the course of 3-12 months compared to the purified CBD patients who showed a 36% improvement. The CBD-rich patients also reported needing less dosage as well as describing it as a “better therapeutic profile” than the purified CBD.
Eucalyptol is a terpene which has a very distinct and familiar aroma. It is a minty and herbal scent with notes of honey as well as a slightly spicy component. It is present in eucalyptus, tea tree, cardamom, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, cannabis, and a few other herbs and plants. Medically, it has a lot of benefits such as: pain relief, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal, anti-proliferative (anti-tumor), and antioxidant properties. In antibacterial elements, it is often known to help reduce acne, especially when present in eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil by reducing sebum production and not blocking pores.
Full spectrum hemp oil or “whole plant oil” contains more than just CBD. Instead of isolating singular compounds from the plant, all of the elements are harvested together to operate in the way the plant is intended to. Along with CBD, full-spectrum oil contains CBG, CBN, Terpenes, and extremely low concentrations of THC. While isolates are ineffective before and after certain dosage amounts, full-spectrum oil provides more benefits with as dosage increases. Most believe that isolates provide a “pure” and therefore better substance. However, the plant is actually purest with all of the components and provides the most benefits before the oil is further refined.
Geraniol is a terpene most commonly associated with the geranium flower, but also found in lemons, tobacco, roses, and cannabis. It has a very sweet and floral aroma. The medical research and historical uses for Geraniol are often targeted towards neuroprotective, antifungal and anti-tumor qualities as well as relaxing/ sedating properties of the aroma. Specifically, geraniol makes tumors more sensitive when cancer patients are undergoing chemotherapy/ radiation and prevents them from developing protective qualities against anti-cancer treatments. It is also used in combination with CBD products because it allows for an easier penetration into the layers of skin. While it is also used in many perfumes and cosmetics, geraniol is also often used as a natural mosquito repellant. Although having many great medicinal properties, cosmetic geraniol used on the outside of the skin can be known to cause irritation to those with sensitive skin if “unstable molecules” are oxidized. Ingested, it does not cause irritation.
Ginkgo is the oldest species of tree around today. Originating over 250 million years ago, this tree which is referred to as a “living fossil” has been used for medicinal purposes since 2,800 BCE. Ginkgo is known to increase circulation to the brain and increase memory, recall, reaction time, attention, and concentration. It is also used to improve mood. While the leaves are often dried and incorporated into many holistic forms of medicine, the seeds are more dangerous to use and incorporate. The seeds can kill infection-causing bacteria and fungi in the body, but also has a toxin that may cause serious side effects.
Hemp is the component of the Cannabis sativa plant that contains high concentrations of CBD and very limited concentrations of THC (0.3% or less). This is compared to the other component, Marijuana which contains higher concentrations of THC (0.4% or more). It is legal for consumption and transport throughout the USA ad has a wide variety of therapeutic and healing usages.
Humulene is a terpene present in plants such as clove, basil, hops, coriander, and strains of cannabis. It tends to have earthy, spicy, and wood-like scent. Many herbal medicines have high humulene content and are said to give them healing properties. Humulene was very prominent in ancient Chinese apothecaries. It has been linked to anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer and analgesic properties. It is also often used as an appetite suppressant to aid in weight loss. Research is currently being done to determine how exactly it lowers appetite.
Holy Basil Leaf (tulsi) is an herb that has been essential in India for thousands of years. Ayurvedic texts describe the holy basil leaf as a pillar of holistic herbal medicine and an incarnation of a goddess in plant form to become the “mother medicine” of nature. The different elements of the plant are known to help different parts of the body. Overall, this plant acts as an adaptogen to help the body cope with physical and mental stress and has antidepressant elements. This includes the stress associated with chemical and emotional sources as well as improving endurance.
Linalool is a terpene present in a lot of familiar plants such as lavender, laurel, birch, cinnamon, cannabis, rosewood and plants with a floral, sweet, and spicy aroma. It is mostly used for its anti-microbial, anti-epileptic, and relaxing effects, but is present in many of the foods consumed on a daily basis. Unlike cannabinoids, linalool does not accumulate when consumed and does not remain in the body for long periods of time. Linalool has been used to relieve illnesses such as epilepsy, fright, and sadness in Mexican traditional medicine and has been proven in clinical trials to have antidepressant and anti-anxiolytic properties. It is most known for inducing a calming effect and boosts REM sleep because the aromatic elements trigger a biological signal within the olfactory receptors in the brain. Through the olfactory bulb, the signals are sent to the limbic and hypothalamic areas causing serotonin and endorphins to cause sleepiness and calming.
L-Theanine comes from the amino acids found in green tea leaves and operates by blocking the glutamate receptors in the brain. It does this at the same time as stimulating GABA, the relaxing neurotransmitter to create a calm feeling. Many people drink green tea due to the L-theanine compounds helping to boost mental focus as well as performance.
Myrcene (or 𝜷-myrcene) is a kind of terpene present in plants and fruits with a high amount of “soft” or “earthy fruit” fragrance. Some of the plants it is present in are mangoes, thyme, lemongrass, basil, and many cannabis strains. It is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. There are many known benefits of myrcene such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relief), antibiotics, and antimutagenic properties. Myrcene has also shown great potential in research for cancer treatment when incorporated with CBD by reducing tumor size and slowing potential metastasis. Myrcene is also known to have sedative properties by easing anxiety and creating a sense of calm.
Nerolidol is a terpene known to have light, floral notes with a fruity/ citrus undertone. It has similar properties to apples and rose. This terpene can be found in familiar scents such as jasmine, tea tree, and lemongrass as well as cannabis strains. It is most associated with having sedative effects, but also is known to be anti-parasitic, specifically helping relieve leishmaniasis, antifungal, and antimicrobial problems.
Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced by many plants, including cannabis. Two of the most common phytocannabinoids are CBD and THC. CBD is used for more therapeutic purposes whereas THC is used for more psychoactive experiences. (see Cannabinoids for more detail).
Rosemary is a very common herb in modern cooking and herbal supplements. It is known to be sacred to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Hebrews and an essential part of cuisine throughout history. Native to the Mediterranean region near Greece, it is extremely high in antioxidants, vitamins (A, C, B6, thiamin, and folate), minerals (magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and manganese) and supports brain and circulatory function to support memory, especially in patients with alzheimers. It is also thought to be an aphrodisiac that increases youthfullnes and fertility and decreases stress and depression. It is also a large promoter of hair growth and decreases balding.
Rhodiola, also referred to as “golden root” or “kings crown”, is a root grown in cold, mountainous regions within Asia, Europe, and the Arctic. Commonly used for altitude sickness, anxiety, and fatigue. Rhodiola is also used for treating anemia, impotence, infections, headache, and stress-related depression.
Synthetic cannabinoids are manufactured replicates in chemical form meant to mimic the natural substances but can be a lot more dangerous. There is current research going on to manufacture different components of CBD and THC separately. The current manufactured CBD by UC Davis is referred to as “H2CBD” and is maze from zero plant products to eliminate the stigma of being a cannabis product. However, this takes away from the entourage effect as well as the naturally occurring aromatic elements present in the natural plant. Synthetic THC is currently called various names such as “K2” and “Spice”. Although manufactured to mimic the natural THC effects, synthetic THC is significantly more dangerous than its natural counterpart. It has been known to contribute towards psychosis, seizures, kidney injuries, hypertension, rapid heart rate, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, etc. It can also be toxic if ingested instead of smoked or vaporized. Many people have needed emergency care after using synthetic THC. Also see – phytocannabinoids.
Schisandra berry has a unique sweet and sour taste and is often associated with handling stress and sustaining energy in the body. Used throughout traditional Chinese medicine, it is known to contribute to “qi”, the life force. It is an adaptogen that is used to decrease stress and incidence of disease as well as boost physical performance, mental performance, the immune system, and increase lifespan.
Terpenes are the aromatic oils present in the different and distinctive varieties of plants including cannabis. There have been over 100 different kinds of terpenes identified in the plant so far, all of which have their own contributions to the overall effect of the plant. For example, some of the different aromas are antibacterial and can invoke feelings from relaxation/stress relief to focus and alertness. They add a substantial value to the entourage effect present in hemp products. Labs are beginning to record the quantity and types of terpenes present in hemp products to measure the exact effect when alone and mixed with cannabinoids.
The aromatic elements could also show positive effects by themselves. Essential oils have been used for 6,000 years dating back to the early Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for therapeutic and health benefits. Although it is seen as a pseudoscience, there have been trials conducted to measure the perceived benefits as well as physical benefits. One study conducted by the College of Nursing in South Korea measured the effects of a lavender based aromatherapy compared to a placebo on perceived stress, blood pressure, and sleep quality on adult patients in the ICU over the course of two nights. Over the course of two nights, patients who received aromatherapy self-reported a large decrease in stress compared to the placebo group who received an increase in stress over the course of two days. When measuring the blood pressure of the patients over the two-day period, the experimental group had a decrease in blood pressure over the course of two days while the placebo group experienced an increase or no change in blood pressure over the two days. While sleep quality decreased for both groups (usual in the ICU), the placebo group experienced a 50% decline in sleep quality while the experimental group only experienced a 10% decline. This would indicate that aromatherapy has true perceived and medical benefits when provided to patients.
Terpineol is a terpene present in over 150 plant species and is often identified with pine, petitgrain, and cannabis. It has a sweet and floral scent similar to lilac. From a medicinal standpoint, terpineol is often associated with antibacterial properties, especially in gastroprotective elements such as protecting against E-coli, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Research shows that it acts by targeting foreign cells or bacteria and reducing inflammation.
Turmeric oil is one of the oldest natural remedies throughout history and dates back to 4,000 year old Ayurvedic, Chinese, African and Jamaican medicines. It has even been cited by Marco Polo in 1280 detailing his fascination with its medical potential. It has antioxidant and antibiotic properties and was used as the first painkiller on the silk road. Turmeric naturally boosts the body’s defense system against pathogens and illness. Just adding a drop or two to a warm bath or diffuser can help boost the body’s immune defense throughout cold and flu season. It is known to heal wounds, promote circulation, heal bruising, heal acne, improve skin, and boost mood.
Vitamin E Oil is most commonly used for cosmetic purposes and applied directly to the skin, however there are many benefits from consuming it as well. It is a fast-soluble vitamin often found in poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. Vitamin E has many anti-inflammatory properties and can help prevent heart disease and cancer as well as promote eye and brain health. It is also used to relieve the side effects of harsh medical treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy.