Yeah, ok; but let's start with what are terpenes?
Terpenes are the organic compounds in plants that give it an aromatic smell. Have you ever described something as "piney" or "citrus"? What you are describing is terpenes. Terpenes not only give off a smell when the plant is alive, they also offer benefits such attracting pollinators, discouraging foragers, and preventing disease in the plants themselves.
Do you have strong feelings about cilantro (coriander)? Yeah, that's the terpene talking right there. Garlic’s smell is actually a combination of terpenes.
What about essential oils? Well, we have mixed feelings about essential oils (mostly MLM models) but it's hard to deny that lavender soothes and relaxes while peppermint helps with headaches and stress. Essential oils are simply concentrated terpenes.
Why should it matter? If you're a fan of Cannabis in its many forms, it's often the terpenes working in synergy--not exclusively the THC or CBD--that provide more specific effects, as well as the "entourage effect".
For example, a review in Frontiers in Neurology (cited below) found that patients with epilepsy who consumed a CBD-rich extract had improved symptoms and fewer side effects than those who took purified CBD only. This intimates that the other components in cannabis, such as terpenes, may affect how the body processes CBD. This is also a lot of what we mean when we talk about "full spectrum" hemp vs. CBD "isolate". Both have their advantages, yet we'll save it for another blog post.
Cool, cool. What are some common cannabis terpenes and do they effect me differently? Dang! I'm glad you asked.
Pinene is common in cannabis and can be picked up with the traditional pine smell. While its pleasant pine aroma can stimulate a better mood, research has also found Pinene to be anti-inflammatory.
Limonene is often found in Cannabis Sativa and in the skin of many citrus fruits. Limonene is the terpene with distinct citrus aroma and may offer an elevated mood, heightened senses, and can help relieve stress and anxiety.
Linalool hits with floral notes plus a touch of spice that many know and love. Because of its unique aroma, Linalool acts as a sedative and can be used to relieve stress and anxiety.
Myrcene is a terpene that occurs often in highly fragrant plants and herbs such as mangoes, hops, bay laurel leaves, thyme, lemongrass, and basil. Myrcene is produced by numerous cannabis strains, and is known for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibiotic properties.
Urban stoner legend has it that eating a ripe mango prior to smoking will make the high much higher and last longer. Idk if that's true but they (who are they?) say it's because mangoes contain high concentrations of myrcene, which is naturally synergistic with THC and allows cannabinoids to more easily bridge the blood-brain barrier.
With well over 100 different terpenes found in cannabis, you can go deep on the nuances of each terpene and its effects. Maybe next time you zest a lemon or open the jar of BLOOMS you’ll be able to identify different terpenes.
I’ve been waiting so long to be able to use this and only sound dad-level corny....👃Smell ya later!
Graphic courtesy of The Cannigma. A most excellent resources for all things cannabis!