The enticing world of cannabis keeps bringing brand new information that leaves the researchers and canna-enthusiasts in awe! If you rewind to a few years ago, the world of cannabis was limited to THC and CBD. And then came a hundred more cannabinoids, and now, the cannabis terpenes are the latest buzz. 

If you're into botany, you know that terpenes are not limited to cannabis plants. In fact, they are found in various plants like conifers, and even in some animals. While they serve many functions and bring benefits to the green plants, we are narrowing our focus only on the cannabis plant. We will be discussing what are terpenes and showing you the interesting world of this aromatic compound. 

Without further ado, buckle up guys, the cannabis magic is about to begin! ;)

What are terpenes?


Moving straight to the subject, terpenes are scented molecules that lend your favourite strain the flavour and aroma that we all love so much. They are secreted in the flower's sticky resin gland and give that shiny, crystal look to the cannabis buds. 

Terpenes usually are employed to make fragrance oils, perfumes, etc as they have an overpowering aromatic influence on the sensory nerves. But besides this, the terpenes are extremely useful for the plants too. The fragrance keeps the infectious germs and unwanted pests away from the plant while also protecting it from animal grazing. The same fragrance helps in the pollination by increasing attraction. 

Produced in the same gland as THC and CBD, the terpenes are known to contribute to the effect of the cannabis plant - with and without cannabinoids. Since the level, aroma, and flavour of terpenes are varied according to the harvesting method, timing, etc, each strain possesses a different set of terpenoids. 

Lab-testing is the only way to know a strain's terpene potency- otherwise, you will have to trust your nose. 

Terpenes have a lot of beneficial properties especially help those looking for benefits in cannabis. But, there's a catch. If the terpenes are heated past their boiling point, a lot of the desirable properties are lost. Therefore, it is recommended to use a 'low-heat' device when dealing with terpenoids. 

According to recent research and findings, two strains with the exact same level of THC and CBD will have different effects because of the difference in the terpenes. That means, apart from giving Sour Diesel its pungent odour, or Pineapple Express its pine aroma, it also brings a change in the effects of the cannabis strain. 

I hope your query of what are terpenes have been solved. Let's move to the effects. 

What are terpenes? - Effects - Pharmacological or psychological?

Terpenes, being a fairly recent discovery, is showing its true potential and its effects in the way we consume the cannabis plant. There is evidence to support that terpenes affect us pharmacologically and psychologically.

The psychological effect claims that the aromatic compound and the overall effect of the person's expectations, perception, and emotional investment is the reason behind its effects. It argues that the terpenes do not interact with the endocannabinoid, nervous, or the endocrine system. 

The pharmacological side presents the idea that the terpenes affect mood, physiology, and behaviour because they communicate with the body receptors and nervous system.

Before you get divided, both the hypothesis is claimed by evidence, making both a very important finding to understand the terpene effect. 

| Also Read: Indica vs. Sativa - What’s the Difference Between the Two Cannabis Plants? |


The pharmacological effects of terpenes

The effects are evident on the body and brain as the terpenes are known to synergistically interact with the THC and CBD to contributors to the cannabis-related medical and recreational effects. A review from 2001 claimed that terpenes lead to an increase in serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and GABA activity. 

Terpenes have also been found to influence how much THC enters the brain through the blood-brain barrier. It is impressive to note that science agrees that terpenes can directly influence the brain’s neurotransmitters in various ways. This is commonly known as the entourage effect as the cannabinoids combined with multiple terpenes give better therapeutic benefits than the cannabinoids alone.

Terpenes interact with the endocannabinoid system to make them more responsive to the cannabinoids and help them to enter the bloodstream. For example, Myrcene helps to increase the permeability of the cells which allows them to absorb the cannabinoids more quickly. 

The psychological effects of terpenes

Now that we have the pharmacological effects of terpenes, the aromatic influence of the compound should also be investigated.  

Although psychological effect depends on the preconceptions, we cannot completely rule out the possibility that terpenes do not influence the mood and mind with their aromatic power.

| Also Read: Cannabis Tincture- Everything You Need to Know About Them |

What are terpenes - the different types


Terpenes, like cannabinoids, are available in 100 different forms and have been known to influence the aroma, flavour, and taste of the strain. The ongoing research might introduce us to many more terpenes, but for now, we are considering the major 7 types that play an important role. 

  • Pinene [Pine]

The name of the terpene gives you a slight idea of what to expect out of it. It is pretty common and can be found in orange strips, basil, parsley, etc. It's properties are a win-win for the cannabis users and promote alertness.

  • Myrcene [Earthy, Fruity]

This is the kind of terpenes usually found in mangoes. Some stoners even eat mangoes 45 minutes before getting high to extract the goodness of the terpenes. You can have the same kind of invigorating aroma in thyme, lemongrass, etc. 

Did you know that if your strain has more than 0.5% myrcene, you will experience the famous "couch-lock"? 

  • Limonene [Citrus]

Limonene is the refreshing citrusy smell from oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, etc. Citrusy scent is pretty common with many other products, and you probably have been influenced by it far too many times.One of the most important aspects of Limonene is that it leads to greater absorption of other chemicals and terpenes through the skin, making them great for tincture, ointments, etc. 

  • Humulene [Earthy]

Humulene is found in many great-smelling food materials like coriander, cloves, and basil.

  • Linalool [Spicy, Floral]

Linalool is responsible for the amazing lavender smell we are all accustomed to. It also cancels out the effects of the THC. 

  • Caryophyllene [Peppery]

Found in the aromatic cloves, cinnamon leaves, and black pepper, caryophyllene.

  • Terpinolene [Smoky, Woody]

Terpinolene is found in many herbs like sage and rosemary and is linked to having sedative and antioxidant effects. It may also depress your central nervous system, making you feel drowsy and reduce excitement and anxiety.

This was all about what are terpenes and their varied effects. Watch this space for more exciting cannabis articles. 

Feel free to drop your comments below and keep toking with Olivastu!