Black peppercorns to the rescue?
Sometimes a little too much THC cause a bad case of anxiety and paranoia, ruining your high.
Many people claim that if you’re too high, you only need to suck on some black peppercorns because the terpene beta-caryophyllene in them will help reduce the jitters.
Although some science suggests that the beta-caryophyllene in black peppercorns may be able to minimize anxiety, the problem is that all the research pointing to these conclusions does not include THC in the equation. In this article, we’ll dive into the details and debunk the claim.
Disclaimer: If you’ve ever gotten too high and could experience relief by sucking on black peppercorns, awesome! Still, we’d like to encourage you to put on your critical thinking hat and consider that the distraction of the black peppercorns is what helped, not beta-caryophyllene.
Want to watch the video instead of reading? Check out our YouTube video Do Black Peppercorns Help THC Anxiety?
The Black Peppercorn Claim
There are several theories behind the black peppercorn claim. However, only one makes the most sense, which is where we will focus.
Black peppercorns contain a variety of terpenes, including sabinene, pinene, beta-caryophyllene (BC), and many more. Of these terpenes, BC gets the most attention since research shows that this terpene is also considered a cannabinoid since it can bind to CB2 receptors as a partial agonist.
Research suggests that CB2 receptors can modulate neurotransmitters, resulting in possible reduced anxiety. CB2 receptor as a target for anxiety medication is fantastic and goes to show the many possibilities of the Endocannabinoid System. If someone has natural anxiety, meaning that it’s not being caused by something like THC, a CB2 agonist like BC could work wonders. However, this isn’t the case for being too high and anxious from too much THC.
THC & Beta-Caryophyllene at CB Receptors
THC is a partial agonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors are in the periphery.
Since CB1 receptors are scattered all over the brain, this is what makes THC psychoactive and intoxicating. The anxiety someone may experience if they have too much THC, especially with a low tolerance, originates from the activation of CB1 receptors and changes in neurotransmitter function.
THC is also a CB2 agonist, like beta-caryophyllene. So, if you’re too high and are looking for relief, consuming something like BC, a CB2 receptor partial agonist, wouldn’t make much sense since THC is already docked at the same receptors. It’s like trying to turn on a light in a room that only has one light, a single lightbulb, and one switch. You can’t turn something on that’s already on. Not to mention, although THC and BC are both considered partial agonists of CB2 receptors, THC is still the stronger of the two.
So, the first issue with the black peppercorn and BC claim is that THC is already docked on the CB2 receptor. The second issue is that BC has nothing to do with the CB1 receptor, which is where anxiety is triggered in the first place.
The final issue with BC and THC at CB receptors is that BC isn’t an antagonist to THC at CB1 receptors. Meaning that BC doesn’t have the ability to lessen or inhibit the effects that THC has on CB1 receptors. In other words, BC cannot reduce the high or anxiety that’s happening from THC.
Conflicting Beta-Caryophyllene Research
In early studies, beta-caryophyllene has been shown to be a CB2 receptor agonist. However, recent research has some conflicting findings. In the study titled The Absesne of Entourage: Terpenoids Commonly Found in Cannabis Sativa Do Not Modulate the Functional Activity of D9THC at Human CB1 and CB2 Receptors, researchers indicated that “A previous study showed that b-caryophyllene is a CB2 agonist. However, we were unable to detect any effect of b-caryophyllene on CB2 signaling in this study.” What’s important to understand is that results can vary based on the types of cells, species, animals, or humans being studied, along with the instrumentation and procedures that measure those results.
For the sake of the black peppercorn argument, let’s assume that BC is a CB2 agonist with the same capabilities as THC at the receptor. If this were the case, the issue with the black peppercorn claim still comes down to the fact that BC doesn’t have the ability to modulate the effects of THC at the CB1 receptor.
Let’s talk about Black Peppercorns
Black peppercorns are super delicious and belong in nearly every savory recipe made! They contain many terpenes, including beta-caryophyllene. Since terpenes are volatile and can easily change their structure based on their environment, how they are consumed and the dose that’s delivered are crucial when determining their effects. Yes, some terpenes can easily change our mood and emotions based on their beautiful aroma profiles, but the results of human clinical trials on aroma therapy are mixed, and the black peppercorn claim isn’t based on aroma therapy.
So, whenever you’re looking at any kind of drug, let alone terpenes, you need to consider the following things.
- How it’s consumed
- Time to effect
- Possible interactions
In the case of black peppercorns, no one has explained any of the above when they claim it can cure anxiety.
How many do you need to suck on?
What variety of black peppercorns?
How old is too old before they are overly oxidized?
How much do you need based on your body weight?
How much should you take based on the amount of THC you consumed?
Questions like these could go on forever. The point here is that everything is dose-dependent. So, if you were to consume black peppercorns as a way to ameliorate anxiety from THC, it would vary from person to person, depending on how much THC they consumed.
Placebo & Distractions
If you’re ever too high, the best thing to do is find a distraction. Call a friend or family member and chat about ANYTHING but being high. Play a card game or put a puzzle together. Ask a friend to go for a walk and chat about nature. Basically, anything that is engaging to your mind will distract you from the anxiety.
When you decide to put spicy, gritty, and earth little peppery balls in your mouth and suck on them, you’re providing yourself a distraction. The anxiety isn’t there because you’re not focused on it! Stoics say that anxiety isn’t caused by anything other than ourselves. However, if your heart rate is through the roof and that’s causing you to get nervous, that’s definitely the THC. But how we react to an elevated heart rate is all in our heads!
Placebo is the most potent drug ever! When you believe in black peppercorns being a gift from the anxiety gods – they work! When you believe that a walk in the woods, sniffing some natural terpenes is calming – it is! When you tell yourself that playing a few games of solitaire distracts you from your dark thoughts – it’s a win!
So, the next time you get too high, if you want to chomp on some black peppercorns hoping that BC will work its magic at CB2 receptors – go for it! The good news is that although this article breaks down how the black peppercorn claim doesn’t make sense, it’s still just a hypothesis. Until a study is performed on humans with a placebo, where people are too high from THC, and they consume beta-caryophyllene, let alone black peppercorns, and their anxiety disappears, we’ll never truly know if it’s possible!
How to help prevent getting too high
Want to stop the anxiety in its tracks? Research shows that if you consume high doses of CBD before or at the same time as THC, it may prevent anxiety from occurring. The key here is taking it before or at the same time, not once the anxiety is already in full force! Future tinctures are great since they deliver 200 mg per dropper. Take 200-400 mg before you hit the bong and see if it helps with minimizing or preventing anxiety if that’s something that happens to you!