Terpenes in cannabis contribute to what’s known as the “Entourage Effect.” This is the sensation of a well-rounded, balanced feeling of cerebral relaxation in the mind and a heavy feeling in the body.
Let’s begin with the Wikipedia definition of Terpenes: “Terpenes and terpenoids are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers.” Terpenes are what give cannabis and hemp their fruity, piney, earthy or sweet smell, and taste. Each cannabis strain contains different Terpenes, but one of the most interesting among them is a Terpene called Myrcene.
Myrcene is present in many cannabis strains and also in hops and other herbs. It has a slightly spicy aroma but is also a little lemony. Mycrene is the most predominant terpene in cannabis strains. Some strains contain less some contain more, but the average high-THC flowers these days usually contain around 20-40 percent Mycrene as part of the total Terpene profile.
Some cannabis strains that contain large amounts of Mycrene are Kush varieties as well as other famous commercial strains like Grape Ape, Tangie and Granddaddy Purple. In these strains, Mycrene features in both Indica and Sativa versions, and of course hybrids, depending on the grow.
Many people claim that you can determine what cannabis strain you have simply by knowing the terpene profile. If it contains a lot of Mycrene, it’s Indica and if not it’s Sativa. This is a common misconception which is not true. Most Sativas and Indicas have similar Mycrene levels, and it isn’t necessarily the case that Mycrene has sedative effects as claimed.
Mycrene is thought to be sedative in other forms. For example, lemongrass has a lot of Mycrene and is used as a sleep aid in some parts of the world. In other places, it’s used herbally as a muscle relaxant. That said, there’s no scientific studies or evidence to suggest that Mycrene (in cannabis) is a tranquilizer.
In Brazil, Lemongrass teas and tinctures containing high levels of Mycrene have been used to treat anxiety and inflammation for centuries. Brazilian scientists even claimed back in 1990 that Mycrene helps with pain by increasing opioid chemicals in the brain and back, although this theory has not been appropriately proven to date.
While scientific research has tried to focus on studying the compounds in cannabis called cannabinoids, there is some new research being carried out on understanding Terpenes better. We know that Terpenes and Flavanoids give cannabis that unique smell and taste, but it appears that Terpenes also have a therapeutic effect too. Sadly – even tragically – science is decades behind when it comes to clinical studies and conclusions on cannabis. The main reason for this is prohibition.
Due to cannabis being illegal in the majority of the world since the 1930s, it has also been forbidden to study the plant, under penalty of criminal proceedings and even jail time. Only now, as states in America and particularly Canada have moved to full legalization of this much-loved herb, is research opening up.
With the rate at which technology is moving these days, it won’t be long before bonafide clinical studies, and maybe even trials are carried out on humans. It’ll be interesting to see if all those positive effects of cannabis -whether THC or CBD or both and Terpenes – have the same results for humans as they do for mice.
It will also be fascinating to learn what the medicinal and therapeutic properties of Terpenes are and how they can best be cultivated into cannabis in the right amounts and concentrations.