Discover These Top 4 Terpenes Found In Weed
What are terpenes in weed, and what do they do? Terpenes are compounds that we are familiar with and probably come across daily. In cannabis, the talk on terpenes is catching on fast as people realize the role these compounds play in shaping the overall weed experience.
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants and even some animals. They are naturally occurring and comprise over 30,000 compounds. Terpenes are the compounds that create the characteristic scent of many plants.
But what are terpenes, and why are they important in cannabis?
Everyone knows the unique, musky, skunky, pungent aroma of weed. It’s unmistakable. You don’t even need to see someone smoking weed nearby. You already know. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds responsible for this distinctive cannabis odour.
Terpenes exist in different combinations, even in cannabis which explains the differences in scent and flavour between strains. Over 150 terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and although most exist only in trace amounts, they may team together to give a strain a unique fragrance profile.
For example, the combination of terpenes in GSC, formerly Girl Scout Cookies, gives it a sweet and earthy scent. In contrast, the terpene combination in Strawberry Gelato produces a fresh and fruity strawberry overtone accented by earthy herbs and fresh spicy cherries.
Now that you know what terpenes are, what are terpenoids, and how are they different?
What are terpenes and terpenoids? Despite having two different meanings, the two words, terpenes and terpenoids, are typically used interchangeably in the cannabis industry. Both terpenes and terpenoids can be found in the cannabis plant, but are they the same?
According to studies, terpenes are simple hydrocarbons, while terpenoids are a modified class of terpenes that contain oxygen. To put it simply, terpenes only have two elements – hydrogen and carbon, while terpenoids contain oxygen or are chemically modified.
Therefore, terpenes are the aromatic compounds that exist in the live plant, and terpenoids are what’s left after the terpenes are oxidized during the drying and curing process of cannabis.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the role of terpenes in the human body.
Terpenes do more than provide the musky, pungent fragrance of weed that tokers love so much. Until recently, science focused on cannabinoids such as THC, CBD and CBN as the main compounds responsible for cannabis medicinal effects.
But as our understanding of terpenes grows, it’s becoming apparent that these aromatic compounds have health benefits too and can even affect how high cannabis gets you.
So how do cannabis terpenes work in the body?
One study investigating terpenes humulene, linalool, β-pinene and geraniol found that combining terpenes with cannabinoids amplified their pain-relieving effects without increasing adverse side effects. The study also found that terpenes could activate the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptors, which THC also activates.
These findings point to the entourage effect – a mechanism by which all cannabis compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, work synergistically to modulate or support some of the effects and provide new benefits.
This suggests that whole plant extracts (full spectrum) may have more benefits than isolates. A 2018 study had a similar conclusion. The study found that a section of patients with epilepsy that took full-spectrum CBD extract had improved symptoms and fewer side effects than those who took CBD isolate.
While terpenes won’t make you high on their own, they may impact the effects of THC, the cannabinoid that makes you high. This explains why some experienced cannabis smokers recommend eating a slice of mango before a session – mangoes have a high concentration of terpene myrcene.
So instead of focusing on the THC levels alone to predict how high a strain will make you and the type of high, you may want to start looking at the terpene concentration and combinations in a strain.
5 Proven Health Benefits Of Cannabis Terpenes
1. Pain And Inflammation Relief
Several studies have found that terpenes may help support cannabinoids’ analgesic effects. One 2021 study found that terpenes mimic cannabinoid effects and can selectively enhance cannabinoid activity without increasing negative side effects.
Another study suggests that terpenes may help manage inflammation and neuropathic pain.
Several studies have found that terpenes may have anticancer potential and may help inhibit the activity or growth of cancer cells. One study has found that Limonene, one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis, has notable anticancer and anti-tumour effects along with other terpenes such as myrcene and pinene.
3. Antimicrobial Effects
Several studies have demonstrated the ability of terpenes to kill or stop the progression of harmful microorganisms. Several terpenes display this quality, including geraniol, menthol and eucalyptol.
Herbal extracts containing terpenes have been used for centuries in aromatherapy to provide calm and relaxation. It’s no surprise that these aromatic compounds can help boost the antidepressant activity of marijuana.
After all, 25% of antidepressant drugs prescribed by doctors are obtained from herbal extracts that contain terpenes. Studies have found that a significant part of the extracts that exerted antidepressant effects were terpenes.
5. Antiviral Effects
Research shows that terpenes like caryophyllene, pinene and camphor demonstrate strong abilities to help kill viruses, suggesting the importance of terpenes in managing health problems.
What Are The Main Terpenes In Cannabis?
While there are hundreds of terpenes found in cannabis, only a few have been studied. Here are the top terpenes that scientists have profiled.
Most cannabis strains have either myrcene or caryophyllene as the dominant terpene. Myrcene is also found in hops, lemongrass, mangoes, among other plants. Myrcene gives cannabis a spicy, earthy, herbaceous and musky scent.
This terpene has been studied for use as a pain and inflammation reliever, mainly for osteoarthritis relief. Myrcene also influences the effects a strain will have on you.
Strains with more than 0.5% are deeply relaxing and likely to end up in a couchlock, while strains with less than 0.5% provide an energetic, cerebral high. Strains with high concentrations of this terpene may be good for sleep.
A common terpene responsible for the citrusy scent in orange and lemon peels and some strains of cannabis. A study in the Chemico-Biological Interactions notes that limonene has antioxidant, antiviral, anticancer, antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory properties. Limonene may also have anti-anxiety properties.
This is another abundant terpene found in pine needles, rosemary, some cannabis strains, and basil. Pinene has an anti-inflammatory effect and is also known for its relaxing benefits.
Caryophyllene, also known as β-caryophyllene or beta-caryophyllene, is responsible for the spicy and peppery notes in some cannabis strains. It is also found in black pepper, oregano, rosemary and cloves. Caryophyllene is known for inducing feelings of relaxation and relieving anxiety.
Research shows that caryophyllene binds to the endocannabinoid system’s CB2 receptor, which relieves inflammation. Caryophyllene has also shown potential in managing anxiety, depression, colitis, diabetes, among other diseases.
Terpenes, Just Like Cannabinoids Will Influence Your Overall Cannabis Experience
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are responsible for the scents most plants produce. Most people associate terpenes with cannabis because cannabis plants contain high concentrations of these compounds.
Recent studies show terpenes may have therapeutic benefits, including reducing pain and inflammation, relieving anxiety, among other conditions.
Terpenes may also influence the effects of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD through a mechanism known as the entourage effect. Terpenes such as myrcene can also help predict how a strain will affect you.