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Federal health agencies want to know how minor cannabinoids and terpenes work

And they’re ready to fund studies to find out.


Several agencies associated with the National Institutes of Health are looking to fund studies into how minor cannabinoids and terpenes work in the body and, specifically, how they create therapeutic effects.


The National Institutes of Health posted a notice July 27 calling researchers to submit relevant proposals, reports Marijuana Moment.


The notice addresses the idea that compounds like CBD have come to be seen as panaceas, though little scientific research exists to prove such claims true or false.


“A growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis plants may have potential in the treatment of pain, nausea, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, obesity, wasting disease, substance use disorders, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions;” the notice reads, “however, the evidence is largely inconclusive, and further investigation is needed.”


“A growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis plants may have potential in the treatment of pain, nausea, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, obesity, wasting disease, substance use disorders, autoimmune disorders, and other conditions; however, the evidence is largely inconclusive, and further investigation is needed.”

— Notice of Special Interest: Promoting Mechanistic Research on Therapeutic and Other Biological Properties of Minor Cannabinoids and Terpenes


The notice continues: “To dissect potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis from its psychoactive properties, more research is needed into the basic biological activity of the plant’s diverse phytochemicals, specifically minor cannabinoids and terpenes.”


Cannabis contains more than 110 cannabinoids and 120 terpenes. Aside from delta-9 THC, few of the plant’s phytochemicals have been thoroughly researched. This funding opportunity excludes delta-9 THC in favor of studying the array of other phytochemicals.


“Research is needed to further characterize the mechanisms underlying therapeutic potential and other biological properties including adverse effects of these minor cannabinoids,” the notice reads, “as well as the effects of less studied compounds.…”


Minor cannabinoids of interest include:

  • Delta-8-THC

  • Cannabidiol (CBD)

  • Cannabigerol (CBG)

  • Cannabinol (CBN)

  • Cannabichromene (CBC)

  • Cannabichromevarin (CBDV)

  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)

  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin acid (THCVA)

  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)

  • Carmagerol

  • Cannabicitran

  • Sesquicannabigerol

Terpenes of interest include:

  • Myrcene

  • ß-caryophyllene

  • Limonene

  • α -terpineol

  • Linalool

  • α-phellandrene

  • α-pinene

  • ß-pinene

  • β-terpinene

  • α-humulene


The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has thus far prioritized research on minor cannabinoids and terpenes as they relate to pain and associated conditions like anxiety, depression and inflammation.


While that’s still an area of interest, the focus will now go beyond pain-relieving potential to include other symptoms, conditions and diseases.


National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is interested in how minor cannabinoids and terpenes influence our perception of pain, how they interact with the microbiome, and how terpenes might enhance the effects of some cannabinoids.

National Eye Institute wants to explore the therapeutic benefits of terpenes and minor cannabinoids in the treatment of glaucoma, retinal degenerations and uveitis (inflammation inside the eye).


National Institute on Aging wants to understand how minor cannabinoids and terpenes can influence age-related cognitive decline/impairment, weight loss, sleep and pain.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is looking for research into the potential for minor cannabinoids and terpenes to help treat alcohol misuse.


National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is interested in pain-relieving, immune-mediating, anti-inflammatory, cell turnover, the oral microbiome, and other potential therapeutic properties of minor cannabinoids and terpenes for dental, oral or craniofacial conditions.

National Institute on Drug Abuse is looking for research on the therapeutic properties of minor cannabinoids for substance use, and the comorbidity of addiction and HIV infection.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke wants to explore how minor cannabinoids and terpenes might influence neurological disorders including pain, migraine, headache, epilepsy, movement disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and stroke.


National Cancer Institute is interested in how minor cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant may help combat early-stage cancer, affect cancer treatment and resistance, and help manage symptoms.


Although the studies can include evaluation of adverse effects, the primary focus must be on therapeutic benefits.


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