Cannabis has been used in medicine for thousands of years, but only with the advent of modern technology are we beginning to understand the plant’s true potential
Terpenes, sometimes called terpenoids, are aromatic organic hydrocarbons contained in the cannabis plant, which give it its unique aroma.
However, there’s a whole lot more to terpenes than just smell, and you might be surprised to learn just how vital the role of terpenes is in terms of a rounded medicinal effect from cannabis. Another important role that terpenes play is to protect the cannabis plant from bacteria and fungus, insects and other environmental stresses.
Terpenes are thought to act on receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain and act as serotonin uptake inhibitors, which enhance norepinephrine activity, according to studies. They work together with flavonoids and other compounds in cannabis to produce a strong medicinal effect for cannabis patients.
Dr. Ethan Russo, who came up with the ‘Entourage Effect’ theory some years ago, claiming that terpenes compliment the active compounds in cannabis by inhibiting the effects of THC. According to Russo, terpenes increase the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, and anxiety.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main terpenes found in cannabis, as well as in a variety of other plants, fruits and herbs:
Pinene has a distinctly piney aroma, and is also found in pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley, and dill. Pinene is said to promote alertness and memory retention, and can be found in strains like Jack Herer, Chemdawg, and Bubba Kush.
Mycrene is another well-known terpene which smells musky, earthy, and has been closely associated in aroma with cloves, with some citrusy notes. Mycrene is thought to enduce the well-known ‘couchlock’ effect, leaving the patient slightly numb and with a substantial body sensation. Mycrene is prevalent also in mangos, and is found in strains like Pure Kush, El Nino, and White Widow.
Limonene is another terpene which, as is suggested by its name, is very much on the citrusy scale, inducing a euphoric feeling, elevated mood and stress relief. Limonene-rich cannabis strains include, Super Lemon Haze, Jack the Ripper, and Lemon Skunk.
Linalool is another favorite terpene among cannabis patients, due to its lavender, floral aromas, and sweet notes. Used in the treatment of anxiety, you could find this terpene in high concentrations in strains such as, G-13, Amnesia Haze, and Lavender.
This terpene is reminiscent of peppercorns, with a slightly spicy aroma, which some people describe as ‘woody.’ Strains rich with this terpene include, Hash Plant, Northern Lights, and Afghan.