We all have an idea what THC and CBD are, but I am sure most don’t have a clue what Terpenes are. Along with Cannabinoids, THC and CBD, Terpenes have become known in the Cannabis world. But like with all other things, an informed person is far better off than an ignorant one that thinks they know what he or she is talking about but really sits the pot totally miss.
What are Terpenes then?
Terpenes are a set of relative simple organic molecules present in all living organisms. Most all aromas and flavors in a plant come from terpenes. Terpenes have a lot of power and Cannabis and other plants share many of the same terpenes. Terpenes consist of carbon and hydrogen and are produced by many plants and even some insects. When dried, they are referred to as Terpenoids. They are the main ingredient in plant resin or essential oils. Amongst many important roles they have in the plant and animal kingdom, they respond as chemical building blocks for more complex molecules like cannabinoids and certain hormones.
Most information available on Cannabis speaks about the recreational and/or the medicinal benefits. We do not know much though about the Aromatic side of Cannabis. Herbs in the kitchen are considered to be aromatic because of a certain terpene profile that gives a specific flavor. Cannabis is far more complex and possible terpene combinations are infinite which create a very broad spectrum of flavors and aromas.
The complexity of Cannabis terpenes leaves the door wide open for scientist to study and understand the benefit of these terpenes. Scientists were able to manipulate the desired ratio of cannabinoids in understanding certain terpenes. It is understood that certain terpenes modulate psychoactive and physiological effects of cannabis. The significant amount of the terpene beta-caryophellene (BPC) contributes to aroma and flavor of cannabis. It is found to activate the CBD2 receptor and acts as a non-psychoactive anti-inflammatory.
Regular users of cannabis often find that a certain weed they smoke is an upper and another would be a downer. This is exactly where terpenes are involved. Some strains are uplifting, others are sedating. Some would be a good painkiller, where another would be inspirational. It can be concluded that good weed is more than the level of THC found in the bud. CBD has also been acknowledged to be part of the active ingredient. But it is so more complex than just these two components. The ultimate effect of cannabis is a fine balance between all the ingredients.
Then we find Flavonoids. This is what produces the unique flavor and aroma of cannabis. The flavonoids unique to cannabis are called Cannaflavins and apart from smelling terrific, they are also pharmacologically active. Cannaflavin-A has been discovered to inhibit the inflammatory molecule PGE-2 and reduce inflammation 30 times better than Aspirin.
The different variety in cannabis strains already is a hot topic. Now we also know that terpenes interact with other active compounds in cannabis. Terpenes don’t just modify how much THC travels through the blood-brain barrier; it also regulates neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
More than a 100 terpenes are found in cannabis, in fact closer to 200, but below are some profiles that might enlighten you.
- Limonene – It has a citrus flavor and contributes to weight loss, treats and prevents cancer and is excellent for bronchitis. It also promotes penetration of the skin better when used in creams. Super Lemon Haze is a good strain.
- Myrcene- has a musk and robust earthy smell and is a very effective anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxer. It also works as a sedative. Myrcene causes the tired heavy feeling in smoking Indica strains. Most strains have myrcene but Lovrin110 has more than 65%.
- Linalool- has a spicy-floral smell and can also be found in mint, cinnamon and many flowers as to even some fungi. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to control motor movements. It also treats liver-cancer. Amnesia Haze has some linalool.
- Delta 3 Carene- is earthy and Piney and is a potent anti-inflammatory and dries fluids like tears or heavy menstrual flow. Many of the different cannabis strains contain Delta 3 Carene.
- Carryophyllene- reminds you of hops and hops and cannabis are basically related. It is good for treating depression and anxiety. Soil grown cannabis contains .33 % of Carryophyllene but it gets greatly reduced to .07% in hydroponics.
There are so much more to learn about the complexity of the cannabis plant. Researchers need to study terpenes more and map out different strains to identify the terpenes. Then they should be clinically tested to understand the vast amount of properties. What a wonderful time we live in as we discover all the wonders of Cannabis.