If you’ve dabbled in the cannabis industry at all, you’ve heard of cannabinoids, those vital chemical compounds found in every cannabis strain, which fit like little puzzle pieces throughout the body’s endocannabinoid system to tackle an extensive list of medical symptoms and conditions. Cannabis terpenes are another type of compound found in cannabis, and like cannabinoids, these compounds have incredible potential that researchers and scientists are only just beginning to unlock. So, what are they?
Cannabis terpenes — they’re more than just scent-makers
If you’ve come across the term “terpenes” briefly, they have probably been described as oils that offer cannabis strains their unique scents, such as the “fuel” smell of strains like Diesel, or the “blueberry” scent of that strain of the same name. But terpenes are capable of much more than simply attracting or repelling our desire for a certain strain. Cannabis terpenes are excreted from the surface of the flowers and sugar leaves of the cannabis plant, through the glands that produce that resin so useful for pain relief and relaxation. The glands are called trichomes. Like cannabinoids, terpenes have the ability to bind to receptors in our brains, and this interaction results in effects determined by the specific terpene. Recently, research has begun dabbling in the potency of terpenes in cannabis strains, but just the strength of a certain scent can give you an idea.
Cannabis terpenes are everywhere
Did you know cannabinoids can be found in other plants, such as rosemary, liverwort, and maca? It’s true, and the same goes for terpenes, but these little guys crop up in many – many – other plants, herbs, and fruits. That pine-like smell in coniferous trees? That’s one. The citrus scent of oranges and lemons? Another. THC and CBD are just two of over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, however, they are the two most abundant cannabinoids and the most well studied. Both cannabinoids and terpenes can give you some clues about what to expect from a cannabis product, but they’re two different compounds. That said, they all appear to interact with each other in what experts call the “entourage effect.” This is the hypothesis that the “full-spectrum” of cannabis, including all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in cannabis, work synergistically to produce the sensations and effects of cannabis.
What’s in a name?
Like the more than 80 different cannabinoids unique to cannabis, terpenes come with their own fancy names. Keep in mind, though, that much of the research around terpenes is still in the early stages. More high-quality studies on humans are needed to fully understand the health impacts of different terpene profiles. Some of the most common associated scents are:
- Pinene; found in pine needles and sage, as well as Jack Herer
- Linalool; found in lavender, citrus, rosewood, and Amnesia
- Myrcene; found in mangos, thyme, and lemongrass, and also Northern Lights
- Limonene; found in juniper, peppermint, and citrus rinds, as well as OG Kush
Terpenes play a role in medical cannabis
Everyone knows THC and CBD, the two most prevalent cannabinoids, are amazing medical powerhouses, but they don’t work all alone. Along with dozens of other cannabinoids, these two compounds play nicely with each strain’s terpenes to produce outstanding benefits. Looking again at four of the most common terpenes:
- Pinene is useful for stopping inflammation and can help with memory retention.
- Linalool has a calming effect and can tackle insomnia, stress, pain, and anxious thoughts.
- Myrcene is also relaxing, and in addition to being antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and antifungal, it can heighten the “high” effect of THC.
- Limonene elevates the mood and relieves stress. It can serve as an anti-depressant and treat gastric disorders.
A 2010 study, for example, showed that a combination of CBD and THC was more effective for pain management than THC alone. But those synergistic effects were believed to be mainly attributed to other cannabinoids and not terpenes.
So, what do you think about cannabis terpenes? Maybe next time you explore the best cannabis seed strains for your individual symptoms, you’ll take terpene content into consideration. As research continues, more and more information is certain to become available about these compounds and their amazing medical promise!