As you may know, the cannabis prohibition that not long ago came to an end in several palaces has restricted researchers from studying the cannabis plant. Because of this, we still don’t know about the cannabis plant as much as we’d like to. But recent legalization made it possible for scientists to take a closer look at cannabis. Among the several discoveries, they’ve found chemical compounds called cannabis terpenes.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic oils produced and stored inside the trichomes. Combined with the cannabinoids, they determine the type of effect you experience after smoking a particular strain. These aromatic oils are not exclusive to cannabis plants. We can find them in hundreds of different herbs, spices, fruits, and plants.
Terpenes are contained in the trichomes of cannabis plants. Researchers believe they are used as a defense mechanism against animals that may want to eat the plants and attract pollinators drawn to the pungent aroma of the cannabis plant.
Recent research has shown that terpenes interact with our cannabinoid receptors and can enhance or weaken the effects of cannabinoids such as THC or CBD. And, as we learn more about the cannabis plant, we’ve discovered that the effects a specific cultivar has are the result of the terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds cannabis has. It happens because each specific terpene creates different effects depending on the cannabinoids and terpenes the plant has and their content. For example, some strains’ terpene responsible for the lemony aroma can offer a more relaxing effect, while Pinene can act as a decongestant, among several other benefits.
“We find terpenes in the tiny white crystals the cannabis plant produces (aka trichomes), these trichomes are not only responsible for all the cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD but can also produce more than 100 different terpenes.”
How Terpenes Interact With Us
Before discovering terpenes, we thought THC was the only compound responsible for the psychoactive effects and that CBD was purely medicinal. But now we know that when consuming cannabis, we’re consuming at least a dozen different cannabinoids and terpenes.
These compounds interact with our endocannabinoid system, composed of cannabinoid receptors and enzymes, resulting in our perception. The endocannabinoid system, also known as ECS, is a biological system in our body that helps regulate our mood and regular functions, allowing the body to control and maintain the processes needed to function correctly. It happens because the ECS has cannabinoid receptors, which both cannabinoids and terpenes interact with, and help regulate:
- And sleep, among others.
These cannabinoid receptors, mainly CB1 and CB2, can absorb cannabinoids, such as CBD, THC, and terpenes.
We can mainly find CB1 receptors in the brain. We believe they’re more receptive to THC and responsible for the recreational effect cannabis offers. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are mainly found scattered throughout the rest of our body. We believe that they are more receptive to CBD, responsible for the medicinal effects cannabis has.
It means that when we consume a specific cannabis plant, we’ll experience a unique effect caused exclusively by the cannabinoid and terpene combination that one particular plant has. So…where does the entourage effect come in?
The Entourage Effect
The entourage theory says that cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in cannabis plants work better when combined. Meaning, you won’t experience the same effects if you consume THC, CBD, or terpenes by themselves. The theory mentions that terpenes interact with more than 400 compounds found in cannabis, including THC and CBD, and when they interact, they create the entourage effect.
When terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds in the cannabis plant interact, they create a unique effect: the “high” you experience when smoking cannabis. But, apart from the special effect, the entourage effect has several benefits. It happens because each terpene has unique properties that can have sedative effects, alleviate anxiety or even alleviate pain. Thus depending on the terpene profile a plant has, you will experience a particular type of high, but also the beneficial properties a plant has will vary from strain to strain and plant to plant.
Most Common Terpenes Found In Cannabis
In case you’ve never heard about terpenes, here’s a list of the primary terpenes found in cannabis and the benefits they offer.
Limonene is the terpene responsible for giving cannabis plants a citrusy smell, similar to lemons and sometimes limes. This terpene is commonly found in lemon peels and can help with anxiety, elevate your mood, and relieve stress.
Terpinolene is responsible for giving cannabis a floral smell, and we can also find it in nutmeg, apples, and conifers. This terpene offers sedative, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties.
Myrcene is the terpene responsible for a mixture of earthy and herbal smells, also found in cardamom, bay leaves, and thyme. This terpene works well as a sedative, helps alleviate pain, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
As the name suggests, Pinene is a terpene that gives cannabis plants a tree or forest-like smell. This terpene is also found in conifer trees, pines, and eucalyptus offers antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and helps with memory retention.
Humulene gives cannabis a woody and earthy aroma. You can also find it in ginger, sage, and ginseng. This terpene is known for its benefits, such as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s mostly known for suppressing appetite.
Caryophyllene is most commonly found in rosemary, pepper, and cloves and gives cannabis a peppery-like or spicy aroma. This terpene has shown the potential to alleviate pain, reduce chronic inflammation, and induce sleep.
Eucalyptol gives cannabis plants a sweet, minty, and slightly spicy aroma. You can often find it in eucalyptus plants, tea trees, and rosemary. This terpene is a powerful ally against muscle pain, joint pain and offers antioxidant properties.
Ocimene gives cannabis plants a citrusy, herbal, and sweet aroma in mangoes, orchids, and lavender. This terpene acts as a natural defense against mosquitoes and other bugs.
There are hundreds of strains out there and possibly thousands or more cannabinoid and terpene combinations. It allows us to benefit from different therapeutic and medicinal effects, thanks to the entourage effect. The entourage effect can help us understand how cannabis compounds can create unique strains. As research moves forward, we will tailor cannabinoid content and terpene profiles to specific needs, improving our experience with the cannabis plant more.
If you are looking to benefit from the several therapeutic properties cannabis plants have to offer, make sure to check our catalog, where you’ll find strains such as our Hypno Zkittlez with delicious papaya and sweet grapefruit. Terpenes that will surely leave you wanting more!