A constituent part of essential oils, terpenoids or terpenes plays a role in your cannabis experience, enhancing it in three main ways.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are a diverse and large class of chemical, organic hydrocarbons that are produced by several different plants and even some insects. These compounds have strong odors that can be easily detected. Plants produce terpenes to protect themselves from being eaten by those above them in the food chain. Their scent keeps herbivores away and attracts parasites and predators of plant-eaters.
The term terpene is sometimes used interchangeably with terpenoids, but both differ in the sense that the latter is chemically modified whereas the former is an organic compound.
Cannabis plants are known to have very high levels of these compounds, with their scents ranging from cheese-like odors to fruity aromas. Unlike cannabinoids, all types of these compounds present in cannabis are considered safe by the FDA & other agencies.
How Are They Related to the Cannabis Plants?
As mentioned above, terpenes are responsible for giving cannabis plants their different types of scents, making it possible for humans to create a sense of familiarity through these. In cannabis, these compounds are produced in their trichomes. The mushroom-shaped, sticky, shiny crystals which cover the plants’ buds and leaves are called trichomes.
The type and quantity of terpenes found in the cannabis vary greatly- until now, about 100 different kinds of these aromatic compounds have been discovered in concentrated amounts in cannabis L. Sativa plants. On a broader scale, they can be broken down into four main categories; sour, spicy, bitter and sweet. Common terpenes found in most cannabis plants include limonene, beta- and alpha-pinene, linalool and myrcene.
Why Are Cannabis Terpenes Important?
The three main ways in which terpenes contribute positively to your cannabis experience are:
1) Enhanced Flavor & Taste
Terpenes are the reason behind the variety of flavors your taste buds enjoy while consuming cannabis. What’s even more interesting (and helpful) is that the scent of a specific cannabis substance can assist you in picking the one that is suitable for your body.
Your nose’s direct response to the scent of a type of weed can serve as a useful tool; if the weed smells good to you, you should go for it.
2) Medical Benefits
The health benefits of terpenes are closely linked to those of essential oils. The significant amounts of research carried out about the therapeutic effects of aromatherapy and essential oils play a role here.
Terpenes have the potential of alleviating symptoms of pain, depression, anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy, addiction, bacterial and fungal infections as well as cancer. The terpenes identified in cannabis are capable of benefitting consumers in the above-mentioned areas.
3) An Enhanced “High”
In 2011, a historic research study by a neurologist, Ethan Russo, discovered and described how terpenes work with cannabinoids to regulate each other’s effect on the endocannabinoid system of the human body.
Russo’s research study revealed that in addition to THC, other compounds present in the cannabis (such as CBD) have the potential of influencing (both enhancing and lowering) the overall psychoactive effects experienced by a consumer. One of the terpenes found in cannabis, Myrcene, has the capability of boosting the effects of THC, resulting in a heightened psychoactive effect.