If the recent spate of pro athlete endorsements for CBD products has piqued your interest in natural health, there’s another class of plant compounds you shouldn’t be sleeping on when planning out your supplement stack; namely, terpenes. Terpenes don’t just promote overall health, wellness and homeostasis. They just might give you the edge you need to get through particularly grueling workouts as well.
Why do we exercise?
The primary motivation behind the urge to exercise depends largely on two factors: personality types and goals. Casual runners and joggers go the occasional lap around the neighborhood to keep their body fat percentages within a healthy range for their respective height and weight brackets. Other, more dedicated athletes are driven to surpass their peers in fields of competitive sport, such as bodybuilding or tennis.
Regardless of goal or personality type, one of the biggest obstacles to regular, quality exercise is the recovery phase between workouts. Whether it’s soreness, swelling or sports injuries, sub-optimal recovery can seriously limit work output — in turn limiting potential for substantial workout gains.
Fortunately, scientific research has shown significant medicinal and therapeutic potential in the use of terpenes as a health supplement. Let’s examine the notable benefits of three key terpenes documented in scientific literature, how they can enhance workout recovery, and how anyone can supplement with these workout-friendly terpenes.
Everything You Need to Know About Terpenes, in Under 100 Words
Terpenes are naturally-occurring non-psychoactive compounds found not only in cannabis, but in all plant life. There just happens to be over 200 of them identified in the cannabis plant alone!
Aside from health-promoting benefits ranging from anxiolytic to analgesic properties, terpenes also impart a variety of aromas and flavors into anything they’re infused in. For this reason, terpenes are commonly incorporated into a wide range of products in the sports medicine industry, including recovery balms, CBD roll ons and massage oils.
Myrcene: For Pain, Muscle Tightness & Insomnia
Whether you choose to buy a myrcene-rich edible or two from your local dispensary or some Sour Diesel terpenes from True Blue, myrcene is one terpene all serious athletes should be looking into. With well-documented analgesic effects, myrcene alleviates pain from muscle soreness and cramps as well as chronic conditions like arthritis or tennis elbow.
Myrcene also couples as a natural sedative, it being the primary active terpene in chamomile. One of the fundamental aspects of optimal workout recovery is a full eight hours of sound, quality sleep. Because of its sedative and muscle relaxant properties, myrcene can be doubly beneficial when work or competition-related stress gets in the way of an athlete’s ability to sleep.
Cannabis strains like OG Kush, Purple Urkle and Sour Diesel are rich in myrcene, and are each commonly available in bud, edible and cartridge forms in local dispensaries. Athletes in states where recreational marijuana has not yet been legalized can opt to purchase terpene isolates instead, as those are legal nationwide.
Limonene: For Controlling Inflammation, Infections & Cardiovascular Issues
The zesty, citrusy flavor and aroma of limonene has made it one of the most popular terpenes in the industry for infusion into both edible and non-edible products. But limonene is a lot more than a flavoring agent, and there are scientific studies to back it up.
Limonene’s impressive antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent health supplement for the reduction and prevention of exercise injuries exacerbated by swelling or inflammation. These include welts from Jiu-Jitsu practice, deadlifting blisters on the hands and tissue inflammation from overtraining.
Internally, limonene functions as a bronchodilator, and has been shown to reduce symptoms of intermittent cardiovascular disorders like asthma or bronchitis.
Wedding Cake, Berry White and Quantum Kush are popular, widely available cannabis strains with limonene-dominant terpene profiles. Cannabis aside, limonene isolate is perfect as a complementary addition to lemon power cookies or fruit-flavored protein bars.
Bilobalide: For Bodybuilders, Powerlifters & Physique Competitors
Bilobalide is the primary terpene in Gingko leaves, with the unique benefit of acting internally as a vasodilator throughout the system. For avid weightlifters, every day in the gym is spent in pursuit of muscle hypertrophy, known more commonly as “the pump.” Bilobalide increases the pump by improving blood and fluid throughput into major muscle groups during both isolation exercises and compound movements. This ensures rapid delivery of oxygen and nutrients to where they need to be at the most crucial times for generating muscle gains.
Increase in hypertrophic potential is exactly why the beet — another well-known natural vasodilator — is a staple of every bodybuilder’s dietary regimen, and beet root powder is a mainstay in their supplement stacks.
Bilobalide is available in virtually all forms of Ginkgo biloba supplements, including capsules. When using isolate, bilobalide blends perfectly into intense flavors, such as in a red beet smoothie or pre-workout drink.