Aside from the common cannabis terms you usually hear, such as cannabinoids (Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa), you may have already encountered another word: terpenes. This is another one of numerous naturally occurring cannabis compounds, and there are more than 150 types of terpenes contained in the plant.
Although most trace amounts of terpenes are present in the cannabis plant, the more prominent ones join together, resulting in the diverse cannabis strains’ signature scent profiles. The smell of cannabis is unmistakable – that unique musky, skunky, and pungent aroma that we recognize right away.
Most people can smell it before they even see the plant. The distinctive odor and flavor of cannabis can be attributed to terpenes, which are the aromatic compounds that determine the scent of many flowers and herbs.
Terpenes are also responsible for the fruity names that certain cannabis strains have, such as Lemon Meringue or Papaya Cake. This is distinctive, especially when you notice that other strains have names like Sour Cheese or Burnt Toast. The flavor profile of the strains ranges from earthy and skunky to bright and citrusy.
It’s not just the scent, however. Terpenes can also influence the possible effects that users have from different cannabis strains.
Terpenes: The Basics
So what is so special about the role of terpenes in providing the aroma of not just cannabis but of every flower, herb, and fruit across the world? Like other flowers, those cannabis plants develop terpenes to protect themselves against predators and attract pollinators.
Each aromatic compound creates a different scent. So even if you’re not a pollinator, you can still tell the difference in cannabis terpenes in terms of smell, just like some insects do. For example, the Lavender Kush strain most probably has a distinct lavender-like smell that we humans can recognize.
Aside from aromatics, terpenes also offer potential therapeutic benefits and positive psychological effects. Terpenes in marijuana interact with other organic compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which amplifies or balances the effects of various strains of cannabis.
But where can you find terpenes in cannabis plants? It’s easy to catch the smell of terpenes in cannabis. Sometimes, you can even identify them on marijuana plants easily. See those tiny, sticky “hairs,” which are microscopic, crystal-like, on the surface of cannabis flowers? Those are called trichomes. They contain resin glands that produce the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant, including terpenes.
Why Terpenes Are So Important
Chemically, terpenes are derived from molecules of isoprene, which are found within cannabis trichomes. You won’t be able to see these isoprene molecules with the naked eye, but you can spot the trichomes themselves. They are found not just on the cannabis flower, but also on the leaves and stems of the plant.
This is why terpenes play a crucial role in the growth and survival of the cannabis plant. Aside from producing distinctive aromas, these organic compounds also enrich the color and pigmentation in buds and leaves, as well as contribute to the flavor of cannabis.
In short, terpenes help in enhancing the plant’s attractiveness to some creatures while repelling the harmful ones. Certain types of terpenes, such as geraniol, ward off insects or herbivores that might be tempted to snack on the plant. Other terpenes, such as terpinolene and linalool, lure insects and other small creatures that can help propagate pollen.
These aromatic compounds support the plant’s immune system in several ways. It conveys information about the surrounding environment, protects plants from stressors and pathogens, and helps trigger immune responses.
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How Many Terpenes Are Produced in Cannabis Plants?
Several variables affect the number of terpenes produced by a cannabis plant. These include whether the plant is grown outdoors or indoors, temperature, exposure to nutrient levels, growing mediums used, and the time of harvesting. These will highly influence terpene levels.
A lot of terpenes are volatile compounds – they are easily lost during standard cannabis extraction processes. But due to the growing awareness of the therapeutic value of terpenes, manufacturers have devised more sensitive extraction methods, such as live resin.
Live resin is made from fresh frozen cannabis plants. Throughout the extraction process, live resin maintains freezing temperatures to protect the plant’s terpenes and other volatile compounds. This results in a flavorful and more aromatically complex cannabis experience.
What is the Effect of Terpenes on the Body?
The awareness of humans when it comes to aromatic properties of terpenes goes a long way back. We have been using the glorious scents associated with terpenes in creating essential oils for practices such as aromatherapy. Most of us know that dabbing lavender oil in essential points of the body can help relax us. The same applies to the effects of terpenes in specific cannabis strains.
Unlike aromatherapy, terpenes’ effects can go beyond stress relief and feel-good benefits. Until recently, most of the focus has been on the therapeutic qualities of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. But the more we understand terpenes, the more we realize that these aromatic compounds are also medicinal powerhouses.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that some of the effects of terpenes on humans are just like their function in cannabis and other plants, particularly the fighting off of harmful microbes and pathogens.
What Are the Medicinal Benefits of Terpenes?
A range of therapeutic benefits and medicinal properties associated with terpenes are identified, thanks to preclinical studies carried out on animals and in vitro studies done in test tubes. However, it should be noted that terpene research is still in its early stage, and not much has been done on humans. Admittedly, more research is needed to make our understanding of these compounds better.
Many terpenes show strong potential in helping kill viruses, including alpha- and beta-pinene, camphor, caryophyllene, and carvone.
Some types of terpenes, including those found in cannabis, have shown anticancer abilities, particularly in helping inhibit the growth and activity of cancer cells. A particularly notable anticancer and antitumor agent is Limonene, as well as other terpenes such as terpinene, pinene, beta-myrcene, and camphor. Even better, terpenes are unlikely to affect healthy cells or cause side effects, which is extremely important for cancer treatments.
25% of antidepressant drugs are formulated using herbal extracts containing terpenes, the common ones being linalool and beta-pinene, particularly in antidepressant medication.
A wide variety of terpenes may help with antimicrobial activity – they can stop a harmful microorganism in its tracks. Terpenes such as menthol, eucalyptol, alpha-bisabolol, geraniol, and terpinolene may help prevent the progression of microorganisms.
Studies discovered that some cannabis terpenes might mimic cannabinoids and their pain-relieving effects. A 2021 study, which combined terpenes with cannabinoids, showed that pain-relieving effects were maximized without increasing unpleasant side effects. This interaction could indicate the ability of terpenes to produce the entourage effect.
Terpenes that may promote pain relief include geraniol, linalool, humulene, and β-pinene. Interestingly, the study also discovered that these terpenes trigger the body’s CB1 receptors. The cannabinoid receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system and affect pain perception.
What Is the Difference Between Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and Flavonoids?
There is a wide variety of compounds that exist in the cannabis plant. Several of these compounds, including terpenes, are produced within trichomes. However, other compounds, like flavonoids and cannabinoids, are also made within trichomes.
We have already established that terpenes are responsible for the flavor and aroma of a cannabis strain and that they also support cannabinoids, namely THC and CBD, in producing therapeutic and psychoactive effects.
In comparison, cannabinoids interact with the body’s receptors, which results in creating numerous therapeutic and psychoactive effects. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are some of the core cannabinoids.
Meanwhile, flavonoids contribute to the flavor and pigmentation of a cannabis strain and also produce unique therapeutic benefits, including antioxidants. Though these compounds play a distinct role within the cannabis plant, they work best together, producing the entourage effect.
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Can You Get High With Cannabis Terpenes?
This is naturally one of the common questions regarding terpenes. On its own, cannabis terpenes will not give you that intoxicated feeling. Even if you take the highest strains, they alone won’t allow you to experience the psychoactive effects. You must take a psychoactive cannabinoid like THC along with your terpenes to amplify potential psychoactive effects.
Terpenes play a crucial role in forming the aroma and flavor of a cannabis strain. There’s also potential cannabis synergy with cannabinoids and other cannabis plant compounds, which produce psychoactive effects. But you should note that terpenes research is still in its very early stages, and more studies are needed to substantiate any definitive claims about them.
Aside from cannabinoids and terpenes, other factors can affect how you feel when using cannabis – your physiology, past cannabis experience, and the setting in which you use it. Terpenes are just one of the factors. But it’s certainly encouraging to experiment with different products and find what suits you best.
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What do terpenes do to your high?
Aside from giving distinctive scent and flavor profiles to your weed and dabs, cannabis terpenes can also heavily influence your high. On their own, they have a range of effects that can alter or modify your experience.
One of the most notable effects of combining terpenes with THC is a decrease in anxiety spikes. While it’s a given that many THC smokers use it for stress relief, many still get an overwhelming sense of anxiety from using high-potency products. Combining THC with terpenes can mellow out that effect and keep users feeling calm and relaxed.
What is the purpose of terpenes?
Terpenes are highly aromatic compounds that influence the smell of many plants and herbs, such as lavender and rosemary. Manufacturers use isolated terpenes to produce the flavors and scents of everyday products, such as perfumes and body products. It can even be used in food.
Terpenes also protect plants from predators and harsh weather. Terpenes have the potential to allow humans to classify cannabis products and predict their effects.
Are higher terpenes better?
When buying cannabis products, you should look beyond THC content – you should also check for the terpene profile. To a certain extent, the more terpenes, the better. When it comes to flowers, a higher terpene count is better. Not so with extracts – those with high terpene content can be unpleasant to vaporize.
How do terpenes affect mood?
Various terpenes in cannabis can help you to relax and melt away stress and anxiety, which is essential for better rest. They can help relax the mind, which can help combat insomnia. They can also help improve your overall mood – they can lift you out of a funk and put you in a better frame of mind.
Get the Best Terpenes Products in Melbourne, Florida, at Harbor City Hemp
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