What role do terpenes play
What role do terpenes play

What Role Do Terpenes Play in the Cannabis Experience?

What are terpenes and how do they work in the cannabis plant?

Posted by:
Laurie Lyons on Tuesday Oct 22, 2019

What Role Do Terpenes Play in the Cannabis Experience?

what role do terpenes play

Much is said about THC and CBD, but not many have any idea that there is more to the plant than just that. The cannabis plant also has something called Terpenes. Lately, scientists have seen that not just the cannabinoids add value to our overall health condition, but terpenes also are a valuable contribution. Embracing the full benefit of the plant enquires learning more about it. An informed person is always better off.


What is Terpene?

Terpenes consist of a set of relatively simple organic molecules that is present in all living organisms. If you walk through a rose garden, the delightful aroma of the roses is caused by terpenes. Basically, all smells and flavors in a plant are because of terpenes. Because terpenes are found in plants, many share the same terpenes. Terpenes are quite powerful.

Terpenes are made up out of carbon and hydrogen and are produced by the plant itself. Even some insects produce terpenes. After they are dried, they are labeled as Terpenoids. Essential oils and plant resin are mainly terpenoids. They play an important role in both the animal and plant kingdom. One of their main functions is to be the initial chemical building blocks for the more complex molecules like some hormones and cannabinoids.  

There is a lot shared on cannabis and its recreational and medicinal benefits. But more information is also starting to surface on the aromatic side of cannabis. Just like herbs, you would use in the kitchen, the aroma of cannabis is also because of a specific terpene profile.  Cannabis has a distinct aroma and is a bit more complex to understand. There are infinite possible terpene combinations that produce a wide variety of aromas and flavors.


How Complex are Cannabis Terpenes?

 The door is wide open for scientists to study and understand the benefit of these terpenes. Scientists can already manipulate the desired ratio of cannabinoids in understanding certain terpenes. Some terpenes can also modulate the physiological and psychoactive effects of marijuana. The terpene beta-caryophyllene (BPC), is found in abundance and is the cause of the aroma and flavor of weed. It plays a role in the activation of the CB2 receptor, and also has non-psychoactive inflammatory properties.

Constant cannabis users can verify that certain marijuana they smoke will either lift them up or act as a downer. Terpenes play a major role in this. Depending on the strain, some would lift energy, and others would function rather as sedation. Some could be a magnificent painkiller, where another could cause inspiration. Cannabis is not just something with THC that could give you a good “high”. Apart from the other known cannabinoid, CBD, there are also terpenes. The complexity is not always easy to analyze, but to experience the ultimate effect of marijuana, a fine balance of all the ingredients is necessary.


Not just Terpenes, but also Flavonoids

Flavonoids contribute to the specific aroma and flavor of cannabis.  Cannaflavin is the name for the flavonoids responsible for the explicit smell of cannabis. It is not just a smell though; it is also pharmacologically active. Cannaflavin-A inhibits the inflammatory molecule PGE-2. It is 30 times more potent than Aspirin in the reduction of inflammation.  

There are many different varieties of cannabis strains on the market. Understanding how terpenes interact with other active compounds in cannabis makes it much more complete. Terpenes can modify how much THC travels through the blood-brain barrier. It can also regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.

Exactly how many terpenes are present in cannabis is not clear, but more than 100 terpenes are identified. In fact, it is closer to 200. Below are some of the profiles that might be of interest.

  •  Limonene – As the name suggests, it has a citrus flavor and is effective in weight loss. It also treats and prevents cancer. It is excellent for bronchitis. When used on the skin, it contributes to better penetration. Super Lemon Haze is a good strain.
  • Myrcene- the musky and robust earthy smell of Myrcene, contributes to relaxation. It is also a very good anti-inflammatory. It acts as a muscle relaxer and sedative. It is the prime cause of the heavy feeling in Indica strains. Almost all strains have myrcene, Lovrin110 has more than 65%.


  • Linalool- The spicy-floral smell is also present on cinnamon, mint, and loads of flowers. Even certain fungi have linalool. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps to control motor movements. It also treats liver-cancer. Amnesia Haze has some linalool.


  • Delta 3 Carene- It acts as a very potent anti-inflammatory and has a Piney, earthy aroma. It is very effective for heavy menstrual flow and teary eyes. Most cannabis strains have Delta 3 Carene


  • Caryophyllene- Its aroma brings memories of hops to mind. Hops are in fact related to cannabis. It is excellent for depression and anxiety. Caryophyllene has a higher presence in soil-grown cannabis. It can be as high as .33%. It dramatically gets reduced to .07% in hydroponics.

It is a fact that cannabis is a complex plant. Terpenes need to be analyzed and mapped out more to identify them. Their properties should also clinically be tested to understand their contribution to medicinal purposes. Then only could we experience the full benefit of the plant.







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