Terpenes: what are they and why they matter?

Terpenes are organic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis. These aromatic molecules play a vital role in the plant's survival, attracting pollinators and acting as a natural defense against predators.

In cannabis, terpenes are responsible for the unique flavors and aromas of different strains, and they also work in tandem with cannabinoids to produce enhanced therapeutic effects.

Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect refers to the synergistic interaction between cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in cannabis. Research is showing that these compounds produce enhanced benefits when experienced together –as opposed to each isolated component working on its own.

While THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids, researchers have identified over 100 different cannabinoids –such as CBN and CBG –and more than 200 unique terpenes in cannabis. These compounds work together to produce the plant's overall effects, including pain relief, anxiety reduction, and anti-inflammatory properties.

What Do Terpenes Do?

Think of cannabis as an airplane. The cannabinoids put you in the air, and the terpenes steer the plane once you’re up there. Terpenes play a significant role in the specific direction of the cannabis experience.

The popular indica/sativa spectrum for categorizing cannabis strains as either energizing or sedating is overly simplistic and inaccurate. Research indicates terpenes –in tandem with cannabinoids –contribute much more to a strain's unique effects than its classification as an ‘indica’ or ‘sativa’. In fact, some ‘sativa’ strains have high levels of the terpene myrcene and actually feel quite sedating, while some ‘indica’ strains contain high levels of limonene and feel uplifting and energetic.

Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis

  • Limonene: Citrusy aroma, uplifting and energizing effects, anti-anxiety and
    antidepressant properties.
  • Myrcene: Earthy, musky aroma, sedative effects, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
  • ß Caryophyllene: Spicy, peppery aroma, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, may also have mood-stabilizing effects.
  • Pinene: Piney aroma, anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator properties, may
    also have memory-enhancing effects.
  • Linalool: Floral aroma, anti-anxiety and sedative effects, may also have anti-epileptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Terpenes are a crucial component ot he cannabis plant, contributing to each strain’s unique aroma and flavor profiles, as well as its therapeutic effects. The entourage effect highlights the importance of the interaction between terpenes and cannabinoids in enhancing the whole plant's overall effects. While the indica/sativa spectrum has been popular for categorizing strains, terpenes play a far more significant role in the overall cannabis experience. By understanding the various terpene benefits found incannabis, consumers can make more informed decisions about their wellness and the strains they choose.

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