For quite a while, cannabinoids like THC and CBD received much of the attention from cannabis users. Nowadays you’ll hear more and more budtenders placing emphasis on terpenes as well. These terpenes are found on almost every plant in the world. On the cannabis plant, they reside within the sticky, resin-producing trichomes. They provide all of the various strains with their own unique aroma and enhance the effects of cannabinoids as well as the therapeutic effects offered by cannabis via the entourage effect. The entourage effect refers to when all the components of the cannabis plant work synergistically to produce effects that may be more desirable for cannabis users. These components include cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids; flavonoids are the most understudied of the three and therefore are not spoken of too often. If you’ve ever had an underwhelming experience with high THC flower, it was likely due to an imbalance of these components and thus a lack of the entourage effect. THC and CBD can certainly activate our cannabinoid receptors just fine on their own, but those receptors may produce a stronger biological response when cannabinoids have assistance from their terpene and flavonoid counterparts. Fun fact: Plants typically produce these hydrocarbon terpenes as a source of protection to repel insects and animals that are looking for a snack, but I guess Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica did not anticipate making themselves more susceptible to human consumption.
Even those who aren’t looking to get high can enjoy the medicinal benefits of terpenes. There are many studies out there involving animals and the effects of inhaling terpenoid odors that prove to be extremely advantageous. Scientists once performed an experiment with mice inhaling the terpene linalool and found anxiolytic properties, increased social interaction, and decreased aggressive behavior among the mouse subjects (Linck, 2009). If you’re still not convinced, take a look at how well the essential oils industry is doing. Essential oils are derived from plants, so you’ll find that each oil also has its own terpene profile just like cannabis. These terpenes present in essential oils play a large role in the mood and health boost that people get from their oil diffusers. Lavender is a popular example, as it provides calming and relaxing effects to users thanks to the previously mentioned linalool. In the weeks to come I’ll be introducing specific terps to the blog and what effects they may bring to the table, as well as which strains may be the most rich in each individual terpene. Stay tuned to find out more.
Linck VM, da Silva AL, Figueiró M, Caramão EB, Moreno PR, Elisabetsky E. Effects of inhaled Linalool in anxiety, social interaction and aggressive behavior in mice. Phytomedicine. 2010 Jul;17(8-9):679-83. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.10.002. Epub 2009 Dec 3. PMID: 19962290.