Elevate Your Holiday Menu With Natural Terpenes
The holidays are a time when we gather together for feasts and break out our culinary skills for a Chanukah, a Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, or Kwanza. We love to cook and eat with those we love through the December holiday season.
Did you know that you can amplify the effects of medical cannabis by eating dietary terpenes? In the few places across the United States that allow cannabis-infused restaurants, the menus that pair with cannabis are loaded with terpenes to enhance both physical and psychoactive effects.
If you are planning a holiday meal, and one or more guests use medical marijuana, you may consider adding some natural terpenes to the menu. Let’s learn more about the potential benefits and how easy it is to serve up a feast with plenty of wellness benefits.
What Role in Wellness Do Dietary Terpenes Play?
The majority of plants on the planet have organic compounds that are responsible for flavors and aromas. Natural dietary terpenes can be found in herbs, fruit, leafy plants, and a variety of nuts. The stronger the odor or flavor, the higher the volume of naturally occurring terpenes.
You have been eating terpenes your whole life, and you didn’t even know it! There are many different types of terpenes found in natural foods. In fact, scientists have discovered over 20,000, but some are exceptionally rare. Others are very common in foods you consume every day.
Some of the most common terpenes found in dietary sources are as follows:
This sesquiterpene belongs to a class of terpenes that has the potential (according to science) to reduce microbes in the human body, combat malaria and inflammation, and may help fight against tumors.
Beta-caryophyllene is found in many plants, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It is also one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. It is kind of a big deal because beta-caryophyllene binds strongly to the CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the human body. Those receptors are responsible for controlling inflammation and immune system functioning.
The beta-caryophyllene terpene is found in common herbs used for cooking, such as black pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, and cloves. It may be the easiest terpene to load up on while cooking a holiday feast. Where possible, use fresh herbs which have the highest level of terpene content.
Lemons and limes are packed full of limonene, which is the citrus terpene. Eating raw citrus fruit is your best source of this valuable terpene. But there are a lot of other ways to consume limonene, including adding a lemon slice or fresh peppermint to your tea, lime juice to your salad or tacos, and more.
Studies suggest that limonene can be a powerful antioxidant, which may help reduce cellular oxidation, help you live healthier, and even provide some protective benefits, reducing cell mutation, the leading cause of cancer.
Many people love the scent of lavender and claim it helps them feel relaxed and may promote restful sleep. Lavender (if you haven’t guessed it) is full of the terpene Linalool, which can offer anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties and help with chronic inflammation.
Other herbaceous plants that also have high levels of Linalool include basil, coriander, and rosewood. Linalool is well recognized for its potential to regulate the central nervous system and improve mood and feelings of relaxation.
Consuming raw lavender or large quantities of any herb or flower containing Linalool can be toxic. Do your research or talk to a physician before consuming it. Always exercise caution with any herbs or essential oils.
Some of your favorite plants and herbs, like hops, lemongrass, basil, and thyme, contain the highest concentrations of myrcene. Many different cannabis strains sold for medicinal use also contain high levels of myrcene for some good reasons.
Myrcene is a terpene that can promote relaxation and help with insomnia. It is viewed as an effective muscle relaxant and sedative, which means it can help people struggling with chronic pain or involuntary muscle contractions.
Not many people dislike the fresh scent of pine. Whether walking outside or even using a household cleaner, it is pleasing to smell. Pinene does more, though, as it has many potential wellness benefits that may improve respiratory health, focus, concentration, and memory.
As the name suggests, Pinene is found in high concentrations in pine, fir, and cedar trees. But it is also found in basil, rosemary, dill, pine nuts, eucalyptus, parsley, and some citrus fruit, like lime and lemon peels.
Some fresh nuts contain healthy fats and high levels of a little-known terpene called valencene. The highest concentration of this terpene is actually found in Valencia oranges, but you can also get more of the terpene from raw nuts such as almonds, pine nuts, and walnuts.
Valencene can promote mood-enhanced feelings, and it may make someone feel uplifted. In addition, this terpene is believed to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Making Terepene Rich Cannabis-Infused Butter
Do you love herbed butter? The next time you are making up a batch of cannabis-infused butter, consider what fresh herbs that are high in terpene content you can include in your mix. Whether for cooking, frying, or eating it on bread.
For example, herbs like fresh ginger, rosemary, dill, basil, sage, and sweet basil contain high levels of terpenes that can boost the potential wellness benefits of your cannabis-infused butter. Don’t forget, you can also use terpene-boosted cannabis-infused butter to cook meat or even in your mashed potatoes. Talk about comfort food!
How to Load-Up Your Menu With Natural Terpenes
Suppose you are looking to amplify your cannabis dining experience and create some delicious side dishes that have terpenes. In that case, there are many ways to incorporate them into your Thanksgiving dinner or holiday meal. Homemade dishes with natural herbs are the perfect choice, particularly if they engage your endocannabinoid system.
Here are some ways to add a harmonious blend of terpenes with earthy notes using fresh herbs that contain high terpene content.
Green Bean Casserole
This favorite holiday side dish is healthy and full of vitamins and nutrients, but green beans don’t contain high levels of terpenes. However, you can dress them up with some garnishes before serving. Shaved almonds and fresh cracked pepper will add both caryophyllene and valencene terpenes to make your green bean casserole legendary.
Cannabis Infused Gravy
Thyme may be too citrus flavored to include in a gravy, but fresh garlic, black peppercorn,
Lemongrass, basil, and garlic are all mouthwatering ingredients in any good homemade salad dressing. Toss them into your food processor with a little bit of avocado or olive oil and some balsamic vinegar or creamy base to make a delicious and healthy dressing packed with terpenes.
The pilgrims may have known a thing or two about eating foods that are high in antioxidants and terpenes. Cranberries have four terpenes: alpha-pinene, limonene, beta-pinene, and Linalool. In addition to being a favorite at your holiday or Thanksgiving gathering, you can also make cranberry sauce for ice cream or cranberry pie.
Fruit Salad With Citrus
Fruit salad may be one of the best ways to consume limonene, the terpene found in fresh citrus fruit. Much of the terpene content is lost if the fruit is cooked, so a raw salad with some fresh herbs like lemongrass will amp up your terpene intake and can leave you feeling energized, reducing anxiety or stress levels for a bit.
Almonds are a superfood and are good for you in many ways. Did you know fresh almonds can help improve blood glucose control for people with diabetes? Almonds contain healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients. Studies suggest that eating twenty-four almonds daily can support kidney health and reduce cholesterol levels.
Almonds contain linalool and geraniol terpenes. The best part is that you don’t have to make any preparations! Just set out a bowl of unsalted raw almonds to get the full benefits of the plentiful terpenes in every nut.
Herbal Seasonings That Increase Terpene Consumption
It is very easy to add terpene content to anything you cook, from your Danksgiving feast to any holiday gathering. Seasonings, where possible, should be raw to maximize terpene content and absorption.
But the good news is that it is easy to prepare holiday foods with a delicious flavor profile by adding some fresh herbs, nuts, or fruits. For example, you can make a cannabis-infused cranberry sauce and use lemon thyme to baste your turkey. You can include fresh lemon thyme in your stuffing too.
Garlic has significant terpenes, nerolidol, and terpinolene, which can have several wellness benefits. Most meals with garlic involve cooking the herb, but consider having some raw, diced garlic mixed in with your salad or diced finely and added to the mashed potatoes.
Garlic will blend seamlessly into almost any delicious meal you make, and roasted garlic as a spread is delicious, and it still contains good terpene content after being lightly cooked. And is there anything better than fresh, cracked peppercorns? You can put that stuff on everything.
Can Dietary Terpenes Make You More High?
Yes. But it is not something most people know about. Specific fruits, herbs, and nuts that have high levels of terpenes can amplify the psychoactive and physiological benefits that medical cannabis can provide.
There is not sufficient research to fully understand how this works, but if you have ever heard someone who uses cannabis claim that they often snack on mangoes, that may be why. The reason medical cannabis dispensaries include terpene content on the strain profile is that when combined with certain strains, they can provide wellness benefits.
Not all terpenes will increase the psychoactive levels of cannabis, however. Cooked herbs, fruits, and nuts lose much of their terpene content when you cook them. So, whenever possible, eating foods high in raw terpenes can provide the best results.
One last tip…if you find yourself feeling uncomfortably impaired, many of the terpenes we discussed may help you avoid a couch crash. For example, place some peppercorns in a small bowl and breathe them in. It may help sober you up and reduce feelings of nausea.
I am a Chief Marketing Officer at DocMJ, a leading provider of medical cannabis health services to qualified patients. I have over 20 years of experience in healthcare marketing and communications, with a proven track record of delivering impactful and compliant campaigns that educate, inform, and empower patients to make better choices for their health and wellness.