Limited evidence has suggested that terpenes found in Cannabis sativa are analgesic, and could produce an “entourage effect” whereby they modulate cannabinoids to result in improved outcomes. However this hypothesis is controversial, with limited evidence. We thus investigated Cannabis sativa terpenes alone and with the cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212 using in vitro and in vivo approaches. We found that the terpenes α-humulene, geraniol, linalool, and β-pinene produced cannabinoid tetrad behaviors in mice, suggesting cannabimimetic activity. Some behaviors could be blocked by cannabinoid or adenosine receptor antagonists, suggesting a mixed mechanism of action. These behavioral effects were selectively additive with WIN55,212, suggesting terpenes can boost cannabinoid activity. In vitro experiments showed that all terpenes activated the CB1R, while some activated other targets. Our findings suggest that these Cannabis terpenes are multifunctional cannabimimetic ligands that provide conceptual support for the entourage effect hypothesis and could be used to enhance the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids.
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