The Who, What, and Why of Cannabis Terpenes | InstaLeaf
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give cannabis its unique flavors and aromas. They are also part of the reason why some people have different reactions to consuming cannabis, regardless of whether it is smoked or eaten. Terpenes themselves do not produce the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis consumption, but they can change how cannabis-induced effects feel by making them more intense or relaxing as well as have their own independent effects.
Terpenes differ from the major cannabinoids in that they don't directly act on your cannabinoid receptors, the only exception to the rule - that we've found so far - is Caryophyllene acting on your CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Terpenes are found everywhere in nature. Plants, insects and animals all make use of them to produce certain effects or flavors for their own survival. Terpenes can be used as a defense mechanism against predators by making the plant taste bad or affect its digestion (slimy texture). They also attract pollinators like bees by providing an enticing smell.
Terpenes are also responsible for the distinct smell of plants, flowers or herbs that we enjoy so much when walking through a garden or farm field. The aroma often comes from terpene molecules released by glands on plant leaves, stems, buds. The majority of terpenes are found in the essential oils of plants and fruits as well as other herbs, spices and some types of fungi like mushrooms. There are over 20,000 varieties of terpenes that have been identified so far with different effects on our bodies and how they interact with cannabis. Myrcene can also be found in mangos, lemongrass and bay leaves among many other plants. Linalool is found in lavender so it makes sense why some people would use cannabis strains containing linalool for relaxation or sleep before bedtime. Limonene can also be used outside of consuming cannabis when added to cleaners for its fresh lemon scent or even mixed with water and vinegar to create an effective household cleaning solution.
Many terpenes are commonly used in perfumes and other scented products because of their strong aroma. You'll notice a stronger aroma associated with new cannabis strains since as terpenes may flash off over time and become less potent, this is also part of the reason why storing your cannabis properly or using a humidity pack can be important. Next time you dip your nose into a bag of your favorite bud try and identify the individual terpenes present.
It's important to note that not every strain will have each type of terpene or in the same concentration. This is because cannabis has different chemotypes that can produce very different effects depending on their terpene content and ratios between each other.
Myrcene is known to enhance the effects of THC and when consumed together may produce a "couch-lock effect" while Limonene can improve mood and produce an energetic high. Pinene can induce alertness and memory retention while linalool tends to be more sedating. Caryophyllene is a highly useful therapeutic terpene with reported effects ranging from analgesic to anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety (potentially due to the reduction of THC effects). These are just a few of the most common terpenes in cannabis but there are a wide range of other terpenes present in your favorite strains.
Terpene synergy is the process of consuming various combinations of cannabis strains together, which may have different effects than when consumed alone. These effects can work in unison to produce a stronger, more rewarding high or to mitigate negative effects like anxiety and paranoia. Terpene science is essential to understand as we work towards understanding cannabis effects as the sum of it's parts.
Although terpenes can provide many benefits, it's important to remember that not all people will benefit from consuming certain types or combinations of them just like any other herb or essential oil out there. Terpenes are not a panacea and they should not be treated as one, what works for one person may not work for another. We're just beginning to scratch the surface of terpene science and it's role in the complex world of cannabis.
Hopefully this blog post about terpenes was informative and enjoyable to read! Once you begin learning how dynamic the effects of cannabis can be and dial in how to target those specific effects it's a game changer. Keep track of the products you enjoy using your InstaLeaf strain diary so you can start finding the right products for you.