People usually associate terpenes only with the fragrance and flavor of a marijuana strain in question, but the reality is quite far from it.
They indeed hold the key to why our senses of smell and taste can tell apart different types of cannabis, but these versatile compounds also play a far more important role. We’ll get to all of that a bit later, as we should first understand what exactly are these terpene molecules, and what is their function within the plant.
Terpenes can be found in almost all plant life, including fruits and vegetables of course, and are also present in some species of the animal kingdom, although that’s extremely rare.
For pot in particular, they serve several purposes at the same time. They act as a natural defense system that guards the plant against pests, bacteria and pretty much all other invaders that try to cause it some harm. They’re also a primordial sunblock, so to speak, offering protection to the buds from the harmful UV rays of our benevolent sun.
Just as their chemical cousins, the cannabinoids, terpenes are located in largest quantities in the flowers of the female plant, because the flowers are definitely the most important part of cannabis, not just for humans but for the cannabis plant itself, as the seeds appear here once the plant has been pollinated.
The variety of terpenes is really huge, ranging to over a hundred different ones, and the majority of them can be found solely in weed.
Some terpenes are also present in many other plants, and, because of this, some strains resemble the taste and smell of fruits like berry or lemon, and even trees like pine. A fun fact is that a terpene called myrcene is responsible for the prevailing smell of all weed varieties, a fragrance that we all know and love. As myrcene is unique to pot, it cannot be found in any other plant.
For easier understanding of all functions that terpenes have, check out this interactive graphic from Greencamp. It covers all the important terpenes, and to start the graphic, just click on it.
If you had a chance to check it out, you’re already getting acquainted with all the functions of these fascinating compounds. The ways they influence us greatly differs, and this knowledge
should be taken quite seriously if you’re planning, or if you’re already using cannabis as a medicine.
The terpene profile should definitely be taken into consideration when you’re choosing your strain, because some are perfect for pain, others for inflammation, and for instance linalool is fantastic for reducing symptoms of arthritis.
To name a couple of “heavy-weight” terpenes that can be found in other plant-life, caryophyllene is a part of many green vegetables, and also spices like oregano and rosemary. Limonene, on the other hand, is present in citrus fruits and the strains that contain it have the same soury aroma.
How Terpenes Work Together With THC And CBD
Even though terpenes have therapeutic properties by themselves, they also work amazingly well in conjunction with cannabinoids, and this occurrence is known in the scientific community as the “Entourage Effect”.
To simplify, the most important help cannabinoids get from terpenes is that they speed up the passing of cannabinoids into our bloodstream. Linalool for one, changes the way our neurotransmitters react to cannabinoids, creating anxiolytic and sedative sensations. Other examples of how the entourage effect works is that CBD (with the help of specific terpenes) lessens the loss of long term memory associated with THC, and diminishes the overall psychoactivity of tetrahydrocannabinol.
Detailed knowledge of terpenes can undoubtedly come in handy for all patients who’re using weed to their advantage, and further research will surely bring about some new facts and benefits of these aromatic molecules.