Terpenes are not new to the cannabis community; finding strains and concentrates with preferred terpene profiles has become a necessity for cannasseurs in the last few years. However, the powerful medicinal effects of terpenes are becoming clearer and it is very exciting. Laboratories across the country have begun testing strains and mapping their terpene profiles, beginning to build the foundation for what will become a massive database of strain information that could facilitate a number of things including genetic mapping of cannabis strains. Laboratory The Werc Shop in California is leading the way with their Cannaroma terpene technology, which notable companies like The Clear use in creation of their terpene enhanced concentrates.
So, what is a terpene? Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons secreted in the trichome of the cannabis flower that influence the way the flower smells (ie, the essential oils) — scents like citrus, pine, and skunk. Terpenes are biologically important for cannabis growing in the wild, with their original purpose being to deter predators and attract pollinators. They also play a very important role in cannabis consumption.
The Entourage Effect
Since cannabinoids like CBD, CBC and CBN have been bred to trace amounts in most modern strains, many growers attribute the differing effects of cannabis consumption to the individual terpene profiles of the strains. Terpenes and cannabinoids work synergistically to produce a specific biological response, versus a more homogenized effect that you would find with hemp CBD oil, taking an edible or using a synthetic product like Marinol. Terpenes can alter how much THC passes through the blood-brain barrier, and have been thought to modulate neuro-transmitters that produce chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. While there are over 100 terpenes in cannabis, there are a handful that are garnering the most attention.
How can I find them? Many products will be labeled if they have added terpenes after processing. Another key phrase to look for is “fresh frozen.” This means the plant was frozen immediately after harvest, preserving the terpenes. This is a technique used in making products such as ice wax and live resin. Pre-filled CO2 oil cartridges are the most popular item with terpene enhancement on the market at the moment.
Found in: Lemons, limes, grapefruit, rosemary, juniper
Effects: Improve mood, combat anxiety, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial
Extra: Limonene helps other chemicals to better penetrate skin and membranes in your mouth and gastrointestinal tract. This makes this terpene a great addition to topical cannabis products, edibles and tinctures. Limonene is a main ingredient found in citrus cleaners, due to its powerful anti-fungal properties.
Found in: Lemongrass, hops, mango
Effects: Combat insomnia, suppress pain and inflammation
Extra: Myrcene lowers the blood to brain barrier, allowing chemicals to pass through to the brain much quicker. Has a friend ever told you to eat mango before smoking to increase your high? That’s the myrcene helping you out. Strains with high levels of myrcene typically induce the “couch lock” effect common in indicas (sativa strains generally contain a lower amount of myrcene). Myrcene interacts primarily with CB1 receptors, which are found mostly in the brain, so smoking and vaping are going to be the best way to access its beneficial properties.
Found in: Lavender
Effects: Combat insomnia, reduce anxiety and psychosis, anti-epileptic, pain suppression
Extra: Linalool has been used as a sleep aid for thousands of years.
Found in: Pine, parsley, basil, dill
Effects: Antiseptic, bronchodilator
Extra: Pinene is a bronchodilator, meaning that it increases airflow to the lungs, which makes this a great terpene for those with asthma.
Found in: Black pepper, cloves, cotton
Effects: Gastro-protective and anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-bacterial
Extra: Caryophyllene is preferable to the CB2 receptor, found mostly in the immune, gastrointestinal and peripheral nerve systems. Therefore a topical or edible with added caryophyllene would be the best way to use it.