Scientists know of about 20,000 different kinds of terpenes in the plant world. However, only around 150 have been found in cannabis plants.
Most people still think that the levels of either the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or anxiety-relieving, relaxing CBD (cannabidiol) in cannabis products are the most important factors to check for. But here is some scientific insight into the therapeutic benefits of terpenes.
However, there is a growing breed of educated cannabis consumers who know that THC and CBD don’t need to hog the spotlight. If you are after certain effects of cannabis, it’s worthwhile to check for the terpene contents in each product or strain before you spend money on it. These terpenes, which are naturally occurring compounds not just in marijuana but in other plants as well, are responsible for the unique flavor profile and aroma in certain strains.
More importantly, terpenes also have medical value and can contribute to the entourage effect, enhancing the therapeutic benefits of other cannabinoids present in the plant. Many terpenes have been found to possess valuable anti-inflammatory properties, treat pain, reduce anxiety, and even treat fungus and bacteria.
Certain cannabis products such as isolates, are processed enough that there are no longer any terpene content or any other compounds in it. But for medical cannabis patients most especially, there are significant benefits to enjoy when consuming cannabis products with a rich terpene profile.
There are more studies that prove these therapeutic benefits of terpenes.
The latest study was conducted by researchers from the University of New Mexico. They analyzed participants who consumed 633 various types of cannabis flower, and they were asked to rate the efficiency of each. The participants consumed cannabis at home then were tasked to report any changes in their symptoms through a mobile software application. Afterwards, the researchers analyzed these trends.
“Symptom relief was greatest after consumption of plant variants with slightly higher than average levels of the terpenes myrcene and terpinolene and non-detectable levels of CBD. In contrast, chemovars with any detectable levels of CBD provided the least relief, the fewest positive side effects, and the most negative and context-specific side effects. These findings are consistent with previous research showing that naturally abundant CBD in cannabis flower may act as an inhibitor of optimal treatment for certain health conditions,” the researchers wrote.
“The index system described herein enables healthcare providers, patients, scientists, and cannabis retailers to easily categorize cannabis products based on measurable plant characteristics beyond THC and CBD in ways that systemically relate to differing levels of symptoms relief and side effect reporting,” they concluded.
Another study from 2021 reveals that certain terpenes help modulate cannabinoid effects on mice subjects. The researchers, who were from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona, analyzed the modulatory and functional activity of different terpenes both in vitro and in vivo, alone and with a cannabinoid agonist known as WIN 55,212.
According to the study’s authors, when the terpenes together with the agonist were given to mice, it resulted in an significant analgesic effect compared to when each compound was administered alone. They also added that endogenous cannabinoid receptors were receptive to the terpenes.
The authors reported: “Our findings suggest that these cannabis terpenes are multifunctional cannabimimetic ligands that provide conceptual support for the entourage effect hypothesis and could be used to enhance the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids,” they wrote.
Which Terpenes Should You Be Looking For?
Scientists know of about 20,000 different kinds of terpenes in the plant world. However, only around 150 have been found in cannabis plants. That said, there are a few important terpenes that can definitely make you feel better:
Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis plants. It’s responsible for a clove-like smell, which can also be musky and earthy. Myrcene gives off sedative effects, though this compound is extremely beneficial for treating chronic pain and inflammation.
Individuals struggling with insomnia will also benefit from strains that are high in myrcene. It can also aid with muscle relaxation, anxiety, and stress.
Linalool is a terpene that gives off a floral aroma with spicy or woody notes. Like myrcene, it also possesses strong sedative properties and it has long been used for its sleep-inducing properties.
Linalool is beneficial for treating anxiety, depression, seizures, stress, and muscle aches. Studies also show that linalool was effective in strengthening the immune system especially from damage caused by stress.
Limonene is another abundant terpene found in most cannabis strains. It gets its name from the lemony, citrusy aroma and flavor it imparts in cannabis. All citrus fruits also possess a great deal of limonene, hence their refreshing aroma.
Limonene is an excellent terpene for improving your overall mood and reducing stress. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. There are also some studies suggesting it may have antioxidant and stress relieving benefits.
Pinene is a famous terpene that is known for its refreshing pine smell. In nature, it’s abundant in pine trees, though it’s also found in numerous cannabis strains. When consuming cannabis strains high in pinene, it’s said to increase alertness and can also leave you feeling recharged and more motivated.
Its medical benefits include increasing bronchodilation and airflow, reduced inflammation, and it may also improve your memory. Pinene may also help you combat brain fog and help you work better.
Caryophyllene is mostly found in black pepper and cloves, as well as in cannabis. It has a sharp aroma that is peppery and spicy.
Caryophyllene is known for its calming effects but it can also help fight anxiety. More importantly, it’s the only terpene that is known to activate the CB2 receptor, which is why it can provide superior therapeutic benefits. Studies show that caryophyllene can fight inflammation, depression, and bacteria while improving gut health.
THC and CBD aren’t the most important factors when shopping for weed. Why not experiment with cannabis strains that have varying levels of important terpenes to see how it can improve your health?