The more you dive into cannabis, the more interesting facts you discover about the cannabis plant. Something which for most of the last century was illegal in almost every country in the world is now being rediscovered. Scientists are just beginning to unlock the full benefits of marijuana for medicinal use, researching the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and terpenes. Discovering different compounds of the cannabis plant and learning how each play an important part. In this article, we are going to talk more about terpenes and the role they play. Another word you may have heard many people use is terpenoids.
The words terpenes and terpenoids have different meanings, but are utilized interchangeably more often across the cannabis world. Terpenoids have been denatured through oxidization during the cutting, drying and curing of the bud or flower. Terpenes are a hydrocarbon, this means that they only consist of the elements, hydrogen and carbon. Most terpenes are found in high concentrations in unfertilized female cannabis buds or flowers. These essential oils are extracted from the marijuana through vaporization technique called short path distillation. Many terpenes will vaporize at similar temperatures to THC, but some of the terpenes are more volatile than other terpenes. Terpenes help to protect the cannabis plant with natural protection from environmental stress, like weather changes and pests such as insects, fungus and bacteria.
While it is well understood that the cannabinoid THC is responsible for the euphoric high many users of marijuana experience, a lot less is understood about how the terpenes and terpenoids enhance medicinal and recreational marijuana. Terpenes are what gives marijuana its trademark fragrance and flavor aspect. In addition some terpenes have therapeutic values. Most government departments around the world have already recognized terpenes as safe, but there is still a long way to go in fully understanding the roles they play.
Some studies have shown terpenes act as inhibitors for THC. They boost the therapeutic effects of THC while lowering the psychoactive high one might experience from high THC strains of marijuana. Dr. Ethan Russo supports this theory and has back it up with this study into the effects of terpenes on cannabinoids. Research studies such as this greatly increases the use of medicinal marijuana-based medicine for the treatment of pain, fungal and bacterial infections, inflammation, anxiety, depression, addiction, and epilepsy.
TERPENES FOUND IN MARIJUANA
There are quite a few different terpenes which can be found in the marijuana plant. While some may share similar vaporization points, others are unique. Below we’ll talk about some of these terpenes and what their effects are.
- Myrcene – Myrcene is a monoterpene and is the most common terpene produced in cannabis. Some strains of cannabis can contain up to 60% myrcene. It has a very distinct aroma with many people describing it as like the smell of cloves. Strains of cannabis with high levels of myrcene will give users that traditional ‘couch-lock’ effect most commonly found in Indica strains. Myrcene can be found in other fruits as well. Many people believe that by eating a mango or similar fruit high in myrcene before dosing marijuana, that it will potentiate the effects, making it stronger.
- Pinene – Pinene has the distinct aroma of fir or pine, hence the name Pinene. Pinene is found in several other plants and is a common ingredient in many anti-inflammatory medications, local antiseptics, and bronchodilator. Pinene extracted from pine needles has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years.
- Limonene – Limonene has a strong citrusy smell, similar to lemons, oranges, and limes. Marijuana strains which are high in the limonene terpene tend to have an uplifting effect on your attitude and mood. Because limonene is absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, it helps other terpenes absorb. Limonene is currently being utilized in clinical trials for breast cancer and to help people suffering from obesity to lose weight.
- Caryophyllene – Caryophyllene can be found in the leaves of several different plants such as basil, cinnamon leaves, black pepper, cloves and in smaller amounts in lavender. It has a peppery or spicy aroma and is the only terpene which is known to directly interact with the endocannabinoid system.
- Linalool – The Linalool terpene has a strong floral or lavender aroma. Strains of marijuana which are high in the linalool terpene lean more towards a calming and relaxing effect. Linalool has been used for hundreds of years by different cultures as an important sleeping aid. It also interacts with THC, lowering the anxious effects many users feel after having high THC strains of marijuana. The EPA has approved the use of linalool for flavor agents, scents and for use as a pesticide.