Is Vaping Terpenes Safe?

Q:     Can I vape Terpenes? Is it safe to vape Terpenes? Are Terpenes Dangerous?

A:     Can you vape terpenes? I think a better question would be "should" you vape terpenes using a medical delivery device like a high quality vape pen or vaporizer? The fact is that if you are smoking or vaping cannabis or hemp then you are also already smoking or vaping terpenes. Terpenes should only be considered as a part of a whole, or as a small part of the cannabis flower and should never ever be vaped directly. Is it healthy, or are terpenes taken in this form adept at treating certain ailments or good for pleasure is another question entirely and one likely to go unanswered for a long time. I think before getting into this topic its fair to encourage any would be users to use their best judgement and listen to how their bodies react to all substances and adjust and make up their mind from there.

As far as the science goes, I don't think there has been enough research on this to definitively answer this question. I do think we can use common sense and what we do know about these terpene profiles (especially whole plant extract terpenes which also have other natural cannabinoids and other compounds present) to make some educated assumptions. I would say that there is a need to perform more scientific studies where the quality, quantity, frequency, temperature, and composition of the terpene profile and presence of other compounds are all measured factors when considering terpene safety and efficacy for human consumption. Other factors that might be taken into account when performing this sort of study which you might call "safety/efficacy of inhalation of cannabis terpenes via a vaporization delivery device," would be the quality, and composition of the vape or atomizer device (The actual point where vaporization occurs), paying attention to the heating qualities of the device and the overall composition of the atomizer and the implications these factors have on the focus of the study.

So lets specifically consider only natural terpenes that are innately produced by plants or insects, with specific focus on those that are present in cannabis essential oil. As of 2019 close to 200 unique terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant. The most common and dominant being Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Limonene, Terpinolene, Humulene, Linalool, Pinene, Ocimene, Bisabolol, Phytol, Fenchol, Nerolidol, Camphene, Terpineol, Phellandrene, Carene, Terpinene, Borneol, and to a much lesser and rarer extent Geraniol, Eucalyptol, Citronellol, Sabinene, Camphor, Isoborneol, Menthol, Cadrene, Pulegone, Guaiol, Valencene and many more that are very minor as well as compounding isomers.

Lets consider the consumption of all or a variety of these terpenes at a rate of 0.001 mg per kg of bodyweight in a given session. This rate was determined by considering 10 mg of full spectrum natural cannabis essential oil being a reasonable medicinal dose from a medical vaporizer device.

All of the terpenes mentioned are natural substances called Arenes. Arenes are Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Essentially these are Carbon and Hydrogen based molecules that are extremely volatile meaning they are in a constant state of evaporation hence their tendency to be smelled in the air as fragrant substances. Terpenes are quite safe when smelled, but caution should be exercised when coming in contact with these substances as they may irritate the skin or fine tissues within the body if inhaled. If properly vaporized at the correct temperature as as small component of cannabis full spectrum oil, which should be somewhere in the area of 330 - 370 degrees Fahrenheit, these molecules will remain in tact. However if the vaporization temperature exceeds 750 degrees Fahrenheit we would begin to see terpene degradation and undoubtedly the production of harmful byproducts. So the take away there is if your going to vaporize full spectrum cannabis oil, or a full spectrum oil that contains terpenes, do so at the correct temperature to mitigate production of harmful degradation products. And do not consume some unnaturally large amount or at a high frequency, an acceptable range would need to be determined.

In terms of 'danger,' the potential danger is very very low. Assuming you are vaping at the appropriate temperature, the worst that is going to happen is that of slight discomfort that might cause you to sneeze or cough. At the aforementioned theoretical rate I think you could very safely asses the efficacy of your oil safely.

It also pays to mention that terpenes may prove to be outstanding natural plant medicines and may be useful for treating or preventing many diseases, for example in treating Parkinson's Disease (PD), Alzheimers Disease (AD), or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) as discussed in "Lead Compounds from Medicinal Plants for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases," by author Christophe Wiart PharmD, PhD, ACS in 2014. They may also prove to be anti-inflammatory within the human body and interact with exogenous cannabinoids or endogenous cannabinoid pathways possibly increasing potential medical properties or decreasing potential negative associated affects, as discussed by Author Dr. Ethan B. Russo in, "Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects."

Anecdotal evidence strongly supports the idea that a full spectrum cannabis product is very effective at treating an ailment be it for example pain, or insomnia over one which is strictly comprised of THC or CBD. Full Spectrum should be defined as a product which contains whole (refined) cannabis essential oil consisting of natural cannabinoids, terpenes, and to some extent flavonoids, meaning something that is closer to what one would encounter in whole flower if they were to remove the plant material. This is often referenced as the "Entourage Effect," and describes the interplay between cannabinoids and terpenes such that the terpenes can actually turn up or turn down certain effects that cannabinoids have or improve or broaden the affects the cannabinoids would otherwise have on their own. Terpenes also make vaporizing cannabinoids much more pleasing to the senses, and I can't help but think that is also part of the 'Entourage Effect.'

Absolutely. There is no doubt that terpenes play some serious pharmacological role and certainly have some effect on endogenous cannabinoid receptors, like the CB1 and CB2 receptors we see mentioned in much of the scientific literature. Phytocannbinoid-Terpenoid synergy may be extremely adept at treating acne, and MRSA as well as many Psychopharmacological applications including depression, anxiety, insomnia, dementia, and addiction and there are a lot of really compelling scientific studies that back these claims up. If you are interested I highly recommend reading the aforementioned study by Dr. Russo and the additional literature mentioned in his study in areas that are of special interest to you. Listing the very many conclusions and findings would be to much for this exchange but I can tell you without a doubt that terpenes and cannabinoids have some incredible pharmacological applications and we will have to wait and see what incredible new information comes from their study as it relates to human health and well-being.

I think in conclusion, yes terpenes have incredible value and are as important if not more important than the cannabinoids they compliment. One particular variety of cannabis (strain) may have an entirely separate and unique terpene profile than that of another. It is very important when considering the use of cannabis as medicine to consider the importance and potential differences in terpene expression as they affect how one experiences this plant medicine, and also what ailments a particular variety may be adept at treating. I think the science is very clear that terpenes are extremely safe, although large quantities should be avoided as that would be unwise and unnatural. If you are going to vaporize terpenes in your full spectrum oil, pay attention to what your body tells you and make your own informed decision as to the efficacy or treatment and improvement to your quality of life and go from there. And certainly use a high quality vaporizing device that vaporizes in a safe and very controlled manner, at the proper temperature.


This has been an exploration of an interesting topic, are vaporizing terpenes safe? The exchange should not be taken as instruction and will not be held liable for any actions taken as a result of reading this exchange. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Thank you for reading.


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