top of page

Cannabis Essential Oil: Terpenes and Benefits

Many studies have been performed on the effects of cannabinoids and the human body but few have focused on the effect of Cannabis essential oils and its possible uses.

I recently came across a study for the "Evaluation of Brain Effects” of Cannabis Essential Oil (1) which was done on human test subjects. The Cannabis Essential Oil (CEO) used in the study was derived from the fresh leaves and inflorescences of the Cannabis sativa L. which were water distilled. It contained mainly monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, as well as other terpinoid-like substances. Monoterpene hydrocarbons represented 57.2% of the total volatile oils.

Top percentages of terpenes:

Myrcene 22.9%,

B-Caryophyllene 18.7%,

Terpinolene 12%,

a-pinene 7.7%,

a-Humulene 6.2%,

Limonene 3.9%.

The CEO was inhaled to examine its effects on the nervous system. The one millilitre of CEO was administered on a gauze and participants were asked to inhale simultanously using both nostrils. The aroma was inhaled for 5-minutes, followed by a 5-minute pause, and then the nervous system and mood states parameters measured. Brain wave activity, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and skin temperature were used as indicators. The findings were that

> Skin temp significantly increased (limonene), heart rate increased (limonene) and blood pressure decreased by 80% (a-pinene). These stimulatory effects were likely due to the presence of monoterpenes limonene and a-pinene.

> One subject experienced pain relief from a headache possibly due to the abundance of terpenes such as myrcene, limonene and b-caryophyllene.

> The EEG showed evidence of relaxation comparable to practices such as meditation, yoga, Qigong, and mindfulness. A study done among people meditating demonstrated similar EEG changes of an increase in alpha activities in the brain while meditating.

Mood was tested by performing subjective self-evaluations. The study confirms CEO contains mood-elevating bioactive components that prove to be beneficial to its users. The subjects reported feeling calm, relaxed, energetic, good mood, decreased anxiety (limonene), and increased feeling of hunger. The relaxing, antidepressant, and anti anxiety effects are likely due to the high percentage of b-caryophyllene and limonene.


Cannabis Essential Oil Materia Medica (2) Common Names: Hemp

Family: Hemp, Cannabacaea

Part of Plant Used: Leaves and flowers

Common Method of Extraction: Steam distilled

Colour: Pale yellow

Consistency: Thin

Aroma: Sharp, herbaceous

Perfumery Note: Middle

Possible Uses and Actions:

Nervous: Reduce anxiety and stress, enhance calm, analgesic,

Circulatory: Can treat headache when used on temples, Aphrodisiac, increased heart

rate, decrease blood pressure

Immune: Antimicrobial

Epidermal: Protect skin, Anti-Inflammatory, skin-warming

Musculo-skeletal: Reduce pain

Digestive: Optimize digestion and appetite

Psycho-spiritual: Aid with insomnia through relaxation

Used in: Candles, soaps, perfumes, and topicals to increase well-being

Cannabis essential oil is very costly as it requires a lot of plant matter to produce and it is quite difficult to find. For therapeutic purposes always use 100% pure organic essential oils from a reputable source as many are adulterated.


Curious about Cannabis essential oil's co-product Cannabis Hydrosol (Floral Water)?

Click to learn more! Cannabis Hydrosol



(1) Cannabis Essential Oil: A Preliminary Study for the Evaluation of Brain Effects, 2018

N. Gulluni, T. Re, I. Loiacono, G. Lanzo, L. Gore, C. Macchi, F. Epifani, N. Ragazzi, F. Firenzouli (2) Aromatherapy for Topical Cannabis Formula, Materia Medica by the author, 2020


bottom of page