Terpenes: A New Frontier for Cannabis to Discover
We all are aware what THC and CBD are, but I am sure 99% would not have a clue what Terpenes are. Along with cannabinoids, THC and CBD, Terpenes have become the new buzz word in the Cannabis world. But like with all other things, and informed person is far better off than one that believes they know what he or she is talking about but really is not hitting the target.
What are Terpenes then? Terpenes are a set of relative simple organic molecules present in all living organisms. Most aromas and flavors in a plant come from terpenes. Terpenes have a lot of power and cannabis and other plants share many of the same terpenes. Terpenes are made up of carbon and hydrogen and are produced by many plants and also some insects. When they are dried, they are referred to as Terpenoids. They are the principle ingredient in plant resin or essential oils. Amongst many other very important roles they play in the plant and animal kingdom, they act as chemical building blocks for more complex molecules like cannabinoids and certain hormones.
As for most of the information and knowledge we received until now about Cannabis, we understand the medicinal and recreational part of it; or we are beginning to get a far deeper feel for the medicinal part. But we do not know much about the Aromatic side of Cannabis. Herbs in the kitchen are considered to be aromatic because of a certain terpene profile that gives the specific flavor. Cannabis on the other hand is so complex that possible terpene combinations are infinite which create a very broad spectrum of flavors and aromas.
The complexity of cannabis terpenes leaves the door wide open for scientist to study and understand the benefit of these terpenes for us. Scientists could manipulate the desired ratio of cannabinoids in understanding certain terpenes. It is to believe that certain terpenes modulate psychoactive and physiological effects of cannabis. The significant amount of the terpene beta-caryophellene (BPC) contributes to aroma and flavor of cannabis. It is found to activate the CBD2 receptor and acts as a non-psychoactive anti-inflammatory.
Regular users of cannabis often say that this weed they smoked was an upper, and another would be a downer. Interesting enough this is where terpenes are involved. Some strains are uplifting, others are sedating. Some would be a good painkiller, where another would be inspirational. I think it could be fine to say that good weed is more than the level of THC found in the bud. CBD has also been acknowledged to be part of the active ingredient. But it is so more complex than just these two components. The ultimate effect of cannabis is a fine balance between all the ingredients.
Then there are flavonoids. This is what produces the unique flavor and aroma of cannabis. The flavonoids unique to cannabis are called Cannaflavins and apart from smelling terrific, they are also pharmacologically active. Cannaflavin-A has been discovered to inhibit the inflammatory molecule PGE-2 and reduce inflammation 30 times better than Aspirin.
The amazing variety in cannabis strains already is something to talk about. Now we are learning that terpenes interact with the other active compounds in cannabis. Terpenes cannot just modify how much THC travels through the blood-brain barrier; it also regulates neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
There are more than a 100 terpenes in cannabis, in fact closer to 200, but below are some of the profiles that might interest you.
Limonene – It has a citrus flavor and helps with weight loss, treats and prevents cancer and is good for bronchitis. It also allows penetration of the skin better when used in creams. Super Lemon Haze is a good strain.
Myrcene- has a musk and robust earthy smell and is proven to be a very effective anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxer. It also functions as a sedative. The tired heavy feeling when smoking indica strands is because of Myrcene. Most strains have myrcene but Lovrin110 has more than 65%.
Linalool- has a spicy-floral smell and can also be found in mint, cinnamon and many flowers as to even some fungi. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to control motor movements. It also treats liver-cancer. Amnesia Haze has some linalool.
Delta 3 Carene- is earthy and Piney and is also an effective anti-inflammatory and dry fluids like tears or heavy menstrual flow. Many of the different cannabis strains contain Delta 3 Carene.
Carryophyllene- reminds you of hops and hops and cannabis are basically related. It is good for treating depression and anxiety. Soil grown cannabis contains .33 % of Carryophyllene while it greatly gets reduced to .07% in hydroponics.
There are so much more to learn about the complexity of the cannabis plant. Researchers need to dig into terpenes now and map out different strains to identify the terpenes. Then they need to be clinically tested to understand the vast medical properties. It is an exciting time that lies ahead as more wonders of cannabis are discovered.