Research is showing that terpenes, which are found in cannabis, can have a real impact on the body and associated high.
Usually cannabis enthusiasts and also cannabis medical doctors will generally rate a certain strain on the level of THC or CBD ratios present.
Those which are known as ‘Sativa’ are used for those seeking a more energetic and mind stimulating high, whereas ‘Indica’ is know for its relaxing impact and high which is felt in the body.
The picture is becoming more complex.
There is now a generally accepted view that whilst as the range of cannabinoids clearly have their own impact, how they interact with terpenes in cannabis, is now seen as influential too.
The “entourage effect” describe the relationship between the various compounds in cannabis, including terpenes. The mix of different compounds in a particular strain can have a different effect than a single compound alone.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are naturally occurring substances found in plants, and create the specific smells you might associate with herbs like thyme and rosemary or a walk in the pine forest. There are many found in the world.
Some examples include Pinene (that lovely fresh smell in a pine forest), Limonene (citrusy), and Humulene (beer lovers might know that this is in hops).
Why are terpenes important in cannabis?
If we know the properties and impact that these substances can have on us, then we can better tailor the mix of strains that we want or need.
For example, the terpene Limonene is found in herbs such as lemon balm and also certain strains of cannabis. It is known to help with stress and anxiety. Pinene is found in strains like Jack Herer and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator effects
One area of research gaining attention is the potential of terpenes to help with sleep disorders. Linalool and myrcene can help to promote relaxation and sleep, and are found in strains like Lavender and Granddaddy Purple.
On the other hand, certain cannabis users have reported that strains containing higher levels of terpolene have tended to increase feelings of anxiety or paranoia.
Studies (Mudge et al 2019) are showing that terpenes have medicinal activity, and will add to the pharmacological effect experienced when using cannabis. This is otherwise known as the ‘Entourage Effect’, where the range of cannabinoids and terpenes give a different combined effect.
This can also happen when combining different strains of cannabis, that will produce a new effect that is greater than the sum of its parts.
How do I work out what terpenes are in the cannabis?
Know the strain
Most experienced cannabis users prefer either Sativa or Indica, or at least have an idea of the types of strains that have worked for them. Websites such as Leafly, are a great resource to understand the specific effects and characteristics of different strains, including the dominant terpenes.
Use your nose
You can train your nose and taste to better identify terpenes and differentiate them from one another. Do this just by smelling things more and noticing the variety of odours you come across. Eventually, you’ll start to notice how some smells have different notes, and can be found in different plants.
Can terpenes get you high? – Get some terps in your life
Ultimately, the enjoyment of herbs and especially cannabis is largely down to the diverse set of pungent smells. Just as a wine lover will have their nose in the glass, understanding the smell profile of terpenes is a massive part of cannabis.
The research on terpenes is promising. It’s still in the early stages and more studies are needed to understand effects on the body. It’s important to keep in mind that different strains of cannabis can have different concentrations of terpenes, so the effects can vary.
We’re entering a new age of sophistication when it comes to medical and recreational cannabis. Highest THC percentage doesn’t always win.
People want the full experience. Sights, smells, and the combined effects of a natural and organic plant are the package that make cannabis so beneficial to many.
What a time to be alive.