EducationWhat are the best terpenes for PTSD symptoms?

What are the best terpenes for PTSD symptoms?

7 min read

Sam North

What are the best terpenes for PTSD symptoms?


The cannabis plant is a horticultural marvel. Its oil can be used as a salad dressing, its seeds are packed with protein and healthy fats, and its fibres make for a much more sustainable and durable alternative to cotton. What’s more, its stems, leaves, and buds are packed with compounds known to have a range of potential medicinal properties.

Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and THC are well known for their interactions with the body’s endocannabinoid system, with numerous stress-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits. But while the plant contains over a hundred such cannabinoids, by no means are these the only beneficial compounds within the cannabis plant. These plants are also rich in terpenes that may enhance the effects of the cannabinoids while mitigating unwanted side effects.

Terpenes are also showing great promise in potentially playing a key role in the treatment of anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), aiding relaxation, and easing the crippling anxiety that can come with the condition, while reducing the risk of THC side effects like paranoia or disorientation. 

Here, we’ll look at which terpenes are best suited to the specific symptoms of PTSD and the medical cannabis options available for those who meet the prescription criteria.

But, before we go any further, we must fully stress that medical cannabis as a whole, and terpenes specifically can and will not cure PTSD, or any other health issue. They should be viewed as one part of a holistic approach to managing and alleviating symptoms of PTSD, and never as some kind of "magic cure".

What are terpenes, and why are they important?

Terpenes are compounds that are the building blocks of essential oils, and are found in all kinds of plants, from fruits and vegetables to trees and flowers. They are responsible for giving these plants their distinctive flavours and scents. Indeed, the names of many terpenes invoke plants within which they are commonly found, e.g. limonene, pinene and eucalyptol.

This is why certain strains of cannabis are known for their distinctive citrusy or floral scents due to the concentrations of the different terpenes with which they have been bred.

The ‘entourage effect’: How terpenes work with other cannabis elements

Those who have looked into medicinal cannabis administration may have heard of a phenomenon known as the "entourage effect”. This is where terpene compounds enhance the efficacy of therapeutic cannabinoids. A 2020 study in the US identified ways in which cannabinoids and terpenes can work together, with specific reference to mood and anxiety disorders.

Terpenes may enhance the effects of cannabinoids by managing the way they bind to receptors and aiding molecular movement and absorption within the body. In this way, terpenes could be instrumental in modulating or neutralising the biological interactions that cause unwanted side effects.

Common symptoms of PTSD

Traumatic experiences can have lasting effects on the mind and body, resulting in post-traumatic stress. Typically, this manifests within a month of a traumatic event, although symptoms can manifest several months or even years later. Every individual experiences PTSD differently, and symptoms may fluctuate in severity and regularity. However, symptoms of PTSD may include:

  • Vividly re-living the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares
  • Emotional numbness (often leading to depression and withdrawal)
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Irritability, mood swings or angry outbursts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Physical sensations including nausea, cold sweats or shaking

These symptoms can have a devastating effect on our personal, interpersonal and professional lives, resulting in experiences and behaviours that can have highly detrimental effects on daily life.

There is a growing body of research to demonstrate a clear link between medical cannabis application and the easing of PTSD symptoms. 

A 2022 study published in the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics demonstrated that six months after the initial dosage, participants experienced a pronounced improvement in PTSD-specific symptoms, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, and increased quality of life. Likewise, US studies in 2014 and 2017 found that a 77% majority of participants experienced a pronounced reduction in PTSD symptoms after taking medicinal cannabis.

Best terpenes for PTSD symptoms 

Recovering from a traumatic event can take time, patience and tenacity. Talking therapies, counselling and cognitive behavioural therapies can help those with PTSD come to terms with their trauma. However, this is a long and difficult process that can be made easier when steps are taken to combat the symptoms.

The following terpenes have been linked to a reduction in symptoms of PTSD:


Linalool is a terpene found in many flowers and spice plants. It is the active chemical found within lavender, and the plant’s gentle sedative properties are owed to this terpene. It has a creamy and slightly floral flavour profile. Preclinical rodent studies have linked linalool to a reduction in anxiety and depression, while its mildly sedative effects may improve sleep in those with PTSD. 


As the name suggests, limonene is a terpene that is found in the peel of lemons and other citrus fruits. It adds a sweet and fruity scent and flavour to strains in which it features prominently. Limonene has been found to have antidepressant and anxiety-relieving properties. 


Pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes in the plant kingdom and, unsurprisingly, it can be found in the resin of the pine tree, as well as other plants like rosemary and eucalyptus. Like its namesake, pinene has a fresh, earthy aroma and a spicy, sweet and earthy taste profile. Studies have shown pinene to have naturally antidepressant qualities and it pairs well with linalool.

Which terpene and cannabinoid combinations work best for you?

Many strains of medical cannabis feature one or all of the above terpenes, with varying balances of CBD and THC. Because everyone experiences the symptoms of PTSD differently, it is important to find a combination of terpenes and cannabinoids that works best for you personally.

This is why we offer a highly personalised experience to all of our subscribers, actively keeping in touch and monitoring their progress, making adjustments as and when they are needed.

Our team of health professionals and cannabis gurus understand the challenges that come from living with PTSD and take special care to match our products to the individual’s needs. They have expert knowledge of the latest research and provide a comprehensive catalogue of products to help ease symptoms and support recovery.

Releaf understands that medical cannabis can be life-changing for many people. That's why we offer tailored monthly packages based on your cannabis prescription, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Sam North, a seasoned writer with over five years' experience and expertise in medicinal cannabis, brings clarity to complex concepts, focusing on education and informed use.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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