Terpenes: The Healthy Alternative that Big Pharma is afraid of

In 2019, the Chandler-based drug firm Insys agreed to enter a $225 million global resolution in order to settle the various criminal and civil cases against their company. The charge that cost them such a hefty sum of money? Manufacturing a highly addictive fentanyl-based sublingual spray that they then bribed physicians to prescribe to their patients in high dosages.

Just three years earlier the same company made a massive $500k donation to the Arizonans for a responsible drug policy (ARDP). A group whose expressed goal was to oppose the legalization of marijuana in the state of Arizona. Insys claimed their donation was “An attempt to protect the public’s safety.”

But protect the public’s safety from what exactly? Obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. All of these illnesses plague not just America, but the global population, claiming millions of lives per year. They all share another common trait. Each, and every one of them sees beneficial effects when the patient consumes Caryophyllene.

Terpenes are the natural oils that plants secrete that are responsible for their unique odors, as well as their flavor. Everyone in the world has consumed them at one point or another. That freshly cut grass smell you enjoy so much? Happens to have beta-caryophyllene in it.

These naturally occurring compounds have heavily documented medical benefits for a range of illnesses. From mental illness, high cholesterol, inflammation, and in turn arthritis. The relief from some of the most crippling medical issues grows right from the ground as though it were a tree.

Cannabis is documented to have high concentrations of terpenes in comparison to most plants. THC itself has little impact on the actual cause of an individual’s symptoms. Rather it causes euphoria, essentially causing you to forget about your symptoms because you are too high to notice them. These oils however are what determine the actual medical benefits of various marijuana strains.

Limonene for example is one of the most common terpenes found in marijuana. Commonly found when CO2 is used to extract the oils from cannabis to be used in the creation of various products. It has extensively documented medical benefits as an antioxidant, antiviral, antihyperalgesic, and anticarcinogenic.

Perhaps one of the most promising terpenes is described by some doctors as “A miracle gift of nature.” Pinene is a terpene found in numerous plants, but as with many terpenes, heavily concentrated in cannabis. Some of its documented medical benefits include inhibiting the growth of breast cancer, and Leukemia cells.

Alpha and Beta Pinene, two variants of the Pinene terpene, have shown promising effects as bronchodilators. By relaxing the muscles in the lungs, they are able to help open airways that would otherwise be constricted. Offering a range of alternative medications for individuals suffering from asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses.

These are just three terpenes commonly found in plants all over the world, but particularly concentrated in marijuana plants. One that is less common outside of cannabis is Farnesene. Which has protective effects on brain tissue against Alzheimer’s disease. Hundreds of variants exist, with effects that can more accurately pinpoint the symptoms of an illness. With all these diseases to treat, it’s easy to see why big pharmaceutical companies are fighting against Marijuana.

Marijuana grows just about anywhere you plant it. From Canada to India, Argentina to Russia, Cannabis appears anywhere people seem to be. Many people grow it in their backyards with little care.

Even at an elevation of 9,000 feet the plant will still miraculously grow. In the Himalayan mountains of India, a small village sustains itself by cultivating cannabis plants illegally. The farmers rub fresh plants between their palms in order to release oils and crystalized THC known as trichomes. These are mixed together to produce some of the highest quality charas, and Hashish in the world. Selling for $20 a gram in the West in 2016.

This brings us to why big pharmaceutical companies are really against marijuana. It’s an incredibly difficult drug to regulate, because of how easy it is to grow. Without the heavy boot of the government to arrest random people for growing, they could have no hope of controlling the substance. Even concentrated forms of THC can be produced by hand, with no external equipment, or chemicals.

Imagine being able to grow your own medication. Knowing exactly what you are putting into your body. Down to the composition of your fertilizer. Completely organic, and free from many of the compounds that lead to harmful side effects.

For decades advocates have called for the federal government to decriminalize marijuana. Former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama made statements in favor of changing the legality of the substance. Unfortunately, both left office without signing legislation to address the issue.

Currently, marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug. This means the DEA lists it as having no known medical benefit, and a high potential for abuse. This is in spite of the fact that medical benefits from inhaling various terpenes have been documented since the 1700s.

Possibly the most interesting case of the documented medical benefits that marijuana can provide is Rick Simpson Oil, more commonly referred to as RSO. Since its creation by Rick Simpson, claims of the substance’s anticarcinogenic effects have flooded the internet. Though there is “Insufficient data” for the health community to draw conclusions from, numerous studies have shown its beneficial applications for skin cancer.

At the very least there is documented medical use for the plant. So why has our government made it their mission to keep this substance from the American people? The short answer is for money.

Sure, the marijuana industry is a multibillion-dollar giant. Certainly, these large pharmaceutical companies could simply change to producing marijuana. Unfortunately, that would mean missing out on potential profits as consumers choose to cultivate the easy to grow crop themselves.

In 2020 92k people died from drug overdose in the United States. 92,000 people left behind friends, families, and pets because of flawed, addictive medicine. Meanwhile, substances that are hailed for their medical benefits are banned from possession.

At some point the American people have to wake up and look at the system over their heads. The FDA isn’t being used to protect anyone. If they were, how could they reasonably release highly addictive medication that regular citizens become hooked on? Instead, the government is being used as a weapon to suppress the free market.

Pharmaceutical companies fear the free market. They fear having to compete for the consumer’s hard-earned dollar. So instead, they pay for politicians who maintain the status quo for the medical industry. A status quo that involves ignoring healthy alternative forms of medication that cannot be controlled.

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