If you’re like most cannabis lovers, you’ve heard of marijuana terpenes. But what are they, exactly? And how do they affect our bodies?
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in marijuana that give it its unique smell. They’re also responsible for many of the therapeutic effects of marijuana.
In marijuana, terpenes are thought to have many therapeutic uses. In this article, we’ll discuss how marijuana terpenes affect our health. Keep reading to learn more!
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are a type of organic hydrocarbon found in the essential oils of plants. They’re commonly found in herbs, trees, and of course, cannabis.
These natural compounds are responsible for the unique, aromatic smell of marijuana. They can make the plant smell earthy, citrusy, or anywhere between the two.
There are more than 400 terpenes occurring in cannabis strains. Around 150 are found in cannabis Sativa plants alone. And Sativa often contains higher terpene concentrations than its Indica relative.
Cannabis produces terpenes in its trichomes. Trichomes are the “fine-haired” resin glands of the plant that contain THC and CBD. Trichomes release these terpenes into the air because of the nature of the compounds. This is what makes marijuana smell so strong and distinct.
For the cannabis plant itself, terpenes serve a variety of functions to help it thrive:
- Act as a natural defense system against UV rays and bacteria
- Protect the plant against predators and pests
- Serve as a lure for attracting pollinating insects
How Terpenes Work in Your Body
When you consume marijuana, your body absorbs the weed terpenes. Then, they interact with your endocannabinoid system. Scientists are working to understand this biological system and its various functions.
Researchers believe that the ECS system plays an important role in:
- Control of movement
- Motor coordination
- Learning and memory
- Emotions and motivation
- Pain regulation
- Addictive behavior
The endocannabinoid system may also affect physiological and cognitive processes like:
- Fertility and pregnancy
- Pre and postnatal development
- Immune system functions
- Appetite levels
The endocannabinoid system includes receptors located throughout your brain and nervous system. When marijuana enters your body, the cannabinoids bind to these receptors. They produce different effects depending on which receptor they bind to.
For example, THC binds to the CB receptor. This process produces the “high” feeling associated with marijuana use. CBD binds to the CB receiver but doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects. Instead, it’s thought to have various therapeutic benefits like reducing anxiety and inflammation.
The Effects Of Terpenes On Your Body
Terpenes affect and influence our mental and physical states. These effects are often more subtle than other compounds—like cannabinoids such as THC.
For example, THC often makes us feel giggly and euphoric. But terpenes, like limonene and pinene, produce lighter effects. These effects include elevated mood and energy boosts that encourage productivity levels.
Think of cannabinoids as the foundation of your cannabis experience. Then, terpenes act as add-ons that give you a handful of unique benefits. Terpenes control the mood that marijuana makes you feel. THC and CBD lay the groundwork for your experience, then terpenes do the fine-tuning.
Many people aren’t aware of how these compounds interact. But small details like terpenes can become the deciding factor in whether or not you enjoy cannabis. So, if you want to get the most out of marijuana, look to its terpene content. Terpenes govern whether you feel uplifted, relaxed, or even paranoid.
Marijuana Terpenes: The Entourage Effect
Cannabinoids and terpenes act differently in how they affect our bodies. But they do work hand-in-hand in fascinating ways. Scientists describe this relationship between the two compounds as The Entourage Effect.
TEE describes how terpenes enhance the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Scientists believe this interaction produces better therapeutic benefits for cannabis users than cannabinoids on their own. This understanding is theoretical in nature, but there’s sound evidence to back it.
One of today’s leading cannabis researchers is Dr. Ethan Russo. Russo believes that terpenes and cannabinoids work together. They produce unique effects on our physical and mental states. He also believes terpenes interact with our physiology. They produce effects that complement certain cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
The Health Benefits of Terpenes
Marijuana terpenes are becoming more popular as people learn about their health benefits. Studies reveal that marijuana terpenes can boost emotional wellbeing, among many other advantages.
In clinical trials, marijuana terpenes show promising signs like:
- Rich in antioxidants
Terpenes have a wide range of medicinal effects. It’s one of the reasons why marijuana is such a popular medicine.
Terpene-based products are also gaining popularity with the rise of cannabis. And with marijuana legalization spreading across the United States, expect to see more and more products that contain these beneficial compounds.
Ways to Benefit from Cannabis Terpenes
Now that marijuana is legal in many states, it’s easier than ever to find and consume products that contain cannabis terpenes. Here are some of the most popular ways people are using marijuana terpenes:
Aromatherapy is one of the most popular methods of choice for terpene lovers. And the selection of products for aromatherapy is becoming increasingly robust.
The classic method of inhalation is smoking the full-spectrum cannabis herb itself. But you can also buy the more recent dry herb vaporizers. These cut out the negative ashen plant compounds that can affect our lung health.
Some people are sensitive to the THC in cannabis, but there are ways around this. You can purchase CBD strains that are extremely low in THC content. This way, you get the benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes without the intense effects of THC.
If you’d prefer to avoid the cannabis plant and stick with just terpenes, you can also purchase vaporizing pens that only contain specific terpenes.
If you don’t like inhaling things, you can also apply cannabis topically in the form of lotions, balms, and oils. This method is great for localized pain relief.
And it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects if you’re not a fan of THC. The best part about topicals is you can still benefit from the full-spectrum plant and terpenes.
There’s also research to back up the effectiveness of topical terpene products. In 2006, Planta Medica published a study showing that terpenes can successfully penetrate into our skin.
The terpenes linalool, citronellol, and alpha-pinene were all observed to absorb into human skin in a variety of topical solutions.
Cosmetic cannabis often seems like an overlooked area in the industry. But cannabis and its terpenes have a wide range of benefits in this area. And for you to benefit from terpenes, they don’t even have to be sourced from cannabis.
Terpenes can offer a wide range of benefits for our skin’s health and appearance. In fact, pinene and caryophyllene may help treat eczema. The anti-inflammatory effects of such terpenes are something to note.
Other terpenes like myrcene and humulene show promising signs as anti-cancer treatments. Although these studies are ongoing, it’s an exciting find. Terpenes show a lot of potential not just in marijuana but in the beauty industry as well.
You can also find a wide variety of cannabis-infused edibles on the market these days. Gummies, chocolates, and oils are just a few of the many choices you have. But edibles are a bit more tricky when it comes to their terpene content.
Cannabinoids and terpenes are less bioavailable in edible products. This is because your liver doesn’t absorb the compounds as efficiently as smoking or vaping cannabis.
Terpenes are also delicate molecules that can be destroyed during extraction. So a cannabis dispensary needs to consider this if they want to benefit from terpene content in their products.
A terpene-friendly extraction process will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your edibles. All you need to do is find a brand that knows this too.
Common Cannabis Terpenes and Their Benefits
Now let’s take a look at some of the best terpenes and how they can benefit our health:
Myrcene – A sedative terpene that can help with pain relief and relaxation. Myrcene is also considered to be a powerful antioxidant.
Pinene – An anti-inflammatory terpene that can help with bronchodilation. It’s often found in aromatic herbs and trees like rosemary and pine.
Caryophyllene – An anti-inflammatory terpene that can help with pain relief. It shows promise for treating chronic pain.
Limonene – A citrusy anti-inflammatory terpene. It has various health benefits like anti-viral, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic.
Linalool – A sedative terpene that can help with relaxation and sleep. It’s commonly found in lavender, and it’s popular in aromatherapy.
Humulene – A terpene that has the potential for treating asthma and allergic reactions. Animal studies show that humulene reduces allergic inflammation in the airways.
Marijuana terpenes are a complex and fascinating topic. And there’s still a lot of research to be done in this area. But the potential benefits of marijuana terpenes are worth exploring. These aromatic compounds show lots of promise for a variety of industries and health problems.
For more articles on cannabis, visit our health and fitness section today.