Terpene Profiles: Borneol, a Powerful and Unique Pain-Fighter from Cannabis

As an educated cannasseur, you’re probably already familiar with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. But we believe that terpenes are perhaps the most important determinant of a particular cannabis plant’s essential character, not only its taste or smell but its medicinal properties as well.

And when it comes to borneol, we’re not alone. In traditional Chinese medicine it’s known as “moxa,” and when harvested from the artemesia family of flowering plants—such as mugwort—it’s compacted into fragrant “sticks” used to relieve pain and correct other bodily imbalances.

As with everything related to cannabis, there’s more to the story. Borneol brings some very powerful and unique pain-fighting and other qualities to bear.

What Does Borneol Do For Us?

Borneol has been known to Chinese physicians for at least 2,000 years and possibly much longer. Its aroma is often characterized as “earthy” with distinct notes of “camphor” and a “cooling” quality.

Like many other terpenes, borneol has powerful pain-fighting applications. What distinguishes it is the absence of sedative qualities. In other words, it tends to numb pain but not knock you out.

A rodent-based study from 2013 found a significant decrease in nociceptive pain—or that incurred from physical injury—as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Another study showed that borneol was an effective topical to combat pain, merely confirming what Chinese acupuncturists had known for centuries.

In addition to fighting pain, borneol has been used in the following ways:

Safeguarding Heart Health: Borneol appears to have anti-coagulative qualities as demonstrated by a 2008 study. Another rodent-based study showed that borneol had a role to play in preventing strokes.

Neuroprotectant: A 2011 study demonstrated that borneol acts as a protectant against toxicity on the cellular level. This holds promise for those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Natural Insect Repellent: There’s a growing awareness of the damage synthetic pesticides wreak on the environment, and borneol may have a role to play here. A 2015 study suggests its effectiveness in controlling mosquitoes who transmit potentially fatal diseases such as West Nile Virus.

How to Get Borneol from Cannabis

Borneol isn’t one of the “primary terpenes,” so finding it in concentrated doses here can be a challenge. That said, many “haze” strains such as K13-Haze commonly feature this elusive terpene. K13-Haze is often described as having a strong citrus and nearly metallic flavor with spicy notes (another characteristic of borneol). It’s typically a high-THC plant, with moderate- to high-psychedelic effect.

Looking to get specific effects from your cannabis? Our Experience Guides would be happy to help you find the right terpene-rich strains and products! Stop by our Oakland Dispensary, or check out our online menu.

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