Cannabis is a complex plant that contains a variety of chemical compounds that can have a range of effects on the body and mind. One group of compounds that has received increasing attention in recent years is terpenes. These aromatic compounds are responsible for the distinct aromas and flavors of different cannabis strains, and they may also have a range of potential health benefits.
In this blog, we will explore the question of whether the terpenes found in cannabis are good for you, examining the scientific evidence and the potential health effects of different terpenes found in cannabis. Whether you are a cannabis enthusiast or simply curious about the health benefits of this plant, this blog will provide a comprehensive overview of what we currently know about the terpenes in cannabis and their potential effects on the human body.
What Are Terpenes?
To begin, let's take a moment to review what terpenes are. Terpenes are aromatic molecules that are produced by all plants, and they serve various purposes such as attracting pollinators and repelling predators. While terpenes are often associated with pleasant scents, their benefits go beyond just aromatherapy.
In fact, research has shown that terpenes can have physical effects on the human body. Many terpenes contain antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, and some have even been found to reduce inflammation or inhibit tumor growth. In cannabis, terpenes work in conjunction with cannabinoids to create an entourage effect that enhances the effectiveness of both compounds.
The Entourage Effect
The entourage effect is a phenomenon observed in cannabis and other plant-based medicines, in which the combination of different compounds, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, produces a synergistic effect that enhances the therapeutic benefits of the plant. This means that the effects of the whole plant are greater than the effects of its individual parts.
For example, the combination of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) with various terpenes like myrcene and limonene, may result in a more profound effect on pain relief, anxiety reduction, or sleep improvement than any of these compounds alone. Essentially, the entourage effect is a way of describing the complex interplay between the different compounds in cannabis, which work together to produce the plant's unique effects on the body and mind.
Abundance: Most Common Terpenes in Cannabis
Cannabis plants are known to produce over 200 different types of terpenes, which are responsible for the distinct aromas and flavors of different cannabis strains. A recent study on the phytochemical diversity of cannabis found the most common terpenes found in the plant to be:
Myrcene is a terpene commonly found in various plants, including cannabis, hops, mangoes, and bay leaves. It is known for its distinct aroma, which is often described as earthy, musky, and herbal.
In terms of its effects on the body, myrcene is believed to have several potential health benefits. These include anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimutagenic and antioxidant properties. When large quantities of myrcene are present in cannabis, it can result in the all too common feeling of “couch lock.”
Limonene, one of the most prevalent terpenes in existence, is an incredibly fascinating compound. It is commonly found in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, and is often used in synthetic scents such as those found in high-end perfumes and citrus-scented cleaning products.
However, the therapeutic benefits of limonene are truly remarkable. This bitter-tasting terpene has been shown to possess cancer-fighting properties, and its ability to permeate proteins makes it a highly effective treatment for toenail fungus. In addition, limonene can also alleviate symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Pinene is a terpene that is primarily found in pine needles, as the name suggests. Walking through a verdant forest in the Pacific Northwest, you may be struck by the sharp, piney scent of pinene.
This terpene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may also be effective in reducing symptoms of asthma. In the world of cannabis, pinene can be found in strains that are known for their uplifting and energizing effects, such as Blue Dream and Trainwreck.
Caryophyllene is a spicy terpene that you may have detected while enjoying a meal, as it is commonly found in household black pepper. Similar to some of the other terpenes we have discussed, caryophyllene possesses anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.
Interestingly, a derivative of caryophyllene is used to train drug-sniffing canines to detect marijuana.
If you're a craft beer enthusiast who savors the bold, bitter aroma of an India Pale Ale, then you're probably familiar with humulene - a terpene that's commonly found in hops.
Humulene is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which may offer benefits in pain management, as well as its potential to serve as an appetite suppressant.
These terpenes, along with the cannabinoids found in cannabis, work together to produce the unique effects and benefits of different strains of cannabis. The specific combination and concentration of terpenes and cannabinoids in a particular strain can determine its effects on the body and mind.
Which Terpene is For Me?
Choosing the right terpenes to smoke can be a personal and subjective experience, as different terpenes can have varying effects on different individuals. While cannabis consumers can ask budtenders for advice or experiment for themselves there is currently not a clear chart or reference for new users and enthusiasts to use when choosing a strain.
However, a new study has set out to present a simple and all-inclusive classification system for the cannabis plant. The researchers hope the system can be utilized by scientists, healthcare providers, and patients to identify the fundamental terpene characteristics of the plants, irrespective of the strain name used for the product, and how these different terpenes affect health outcomes. The aim is to make the system user-friendly and easy to reference.
The study looked at the effects of the five most abundant terpenes found in the cannabis plant: myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, alpha-pinene, and alpha-humulene. The researchers found users experienced positive effects from all terpenes except for those containing both myrcene and beta caryophyllene. It also found users felt the greatest symptom relief when consuming cannabis with slightly overall higher than average levels of the terpenes myrcene. The results from the study seem to suggest cannabis users can get the most out of their flower by looking for strains high in myrcene and low in beta-caryophyllene.
Cannabis consumers can use this information to do more research and find the right terpenes for them. Terpene information should be available on all cannabis packaging, and if not consumers should be able to find it online. There is hope the study mentioned above will create a database that conveniently maps out the terpenes and their benefits for users and healthcare workers.
The Nose Knows
A simple yet effective way to find if you might enjoy a specific terpene is by using your nose. Much as a person would react to certain food smells or flower scents, smelling cannabis will produce a visceral, and opinionated, reaction for most. For consumers who find themselves at a dispensary where they can smell the cannabis they should follow the scent to find their next strain. If you don’t enjoy the aroma of a strain chances are you won’t enjoy smoking it either.
Those who are not able to sample the flower before purchasing can look to their budtender for advice. A knowledgeable budtender should know the smell and effects of most strains on the shelf.
Terpenes For the Win
The studies done on terpenes and their effects seem to point in the direction of a multitude of benefits provided by these aromatic molecules. Choosing the right product for individual users requires research and the additional step of checking product labels before purchase.
Consumers looking for flower products with available terpene information can check out E1011 Labs lines of CBD filled stelo™ and infused flower filled Ari53™. Each flavoring is made with a handpicked blend of terpenes and cannabinoids, and each product description contains a terpene wheel so buyers know exactly what they are getting. Check out the future of flower with E1011 Labs and see how good terpenes can be for you.