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Top 3 Cannabis Terpenes


You may remember our recent discussion about the importance of terpenes, back in October’s issue. I had stated that we should use a strain name as a guide to what type of terpene profile that particular cut is going to carry because with all the different factors in breeding in producing strains, we can have many variations of the same genetics that produce an array of aromas and flavors. This of course is all thanks to the Terpenes. If you didn’t get a chance to read October’s issue, I will take a second to explain what terpenes are and move forward with the main types of terpenes found in cannabis, what they do and why they are produced.


Terpenes are the living hydrocarbon chains that produce the smell molecules found in all plants and serve as a major component of plant resins. The terpenes in cannabis are what give this amazing plant its unique aroma, flavor and therapeutic qualities. Awareness of the aromatic properties terpenes have is not new. We have long extracted the scents associated with terpenes to formulate essential oils for practices like aromatherapy. For example, Lavender. You may see lavender in shampoos, soaps and even candles that claim to help calm and relax you. That is because lavender contains linalool which is a powerful terpene due to its effects on the serotonin receptor that helps treat anxiety ,depression and combats insomnia.


When it comes to cannabis, there are more than 150 types of terpenes, though most are present in trace amounts. Terpenes are important for the plant’s growth and survival. Terpenes affect the color and pigmentation in the leaves and buds and contribute to the flavor which can attract beneficial creatures and deter others that can do harm. Terpenes such as geraniol repel insects and herbivores while other terpenes such as terpinolene and linalool attract insects and small creatures that can help spread pollen. Terpenes also support the plant’s immune system by conveying information about the surrounding environment triggering immune responses in the plant.


So you may be asking yourself, “How do terpenes affect the human body?” Well, as I mentioned before, one particular terpene creates a calming effect due to its effect on the serotonin receptor. Terpenes have been identified as a new frontier in cannabis medicine. Most people focus on THC and CBD, but we should also ask for the freshest, most pungent flower as that’s an indication that the plant still contains beneficial terpenes. All terpenes create unique combinations of therapeutic properties. Some of the effects terpenes have on humans are reminiscent of their function in cannabis and other plants, like helping to fight off unwelcome microbes and pathogens.


There have been pre-clinical studies in animals and in-vitro studies that have identified a range of therapeutic benefits associated with terpenes. With the research of terpenes in its infancy and not being widely performed on humans, we will definitely need more research to solidify our understanding of these compounds. So far, there are terpenes that show a variety of properties including antiviral, anticancer, antidepressant, antimicrobial as well as pain relief.

I’m not saying let’s disregard the THC and CBD because of terpenes but rather to use methods of trial and error to find out what terpenes with what ratios of cannabinoids work best for you. Take a look at percentages of cannabinoids as well as the terpenes they carry and which terpenes they contain the most of. Evidence suggests that all plant compounds in cannabis work together synergistically, creating the entourage effect. The entourage effect is where a special whole-plant synergy occurs when cannabinoids and terpenes are consumed together as opposed to by themselves, allowing them to bolstr each one’s effects.


As I mentioned, there are over 150 different types of terpenes found in cannabis and while most are found in very low concentrations, there are a few that are very abundant. So when I say a few, I literally mean 3. After researching and reading, it seems cannabis does have 3 terpenes that are found more often and in higher percentages than any others.

The first is myrcene. Myrcene is a terpene that is also found in hops and lemongrass and delivers scents that are herbaceous, spicy, earthy and musky. Myrcene is also found in mangos, so I think it’s safe to say it produces a mildly sweet flavor. Myrcene is also a medicinally beneficial terpene that delivers anti-inflammatory effects. There are also studies that show the terpene helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage cells, slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and decrease the production of certain inflammatory cells produced by the body. The hope is for myrcene to potentially be harnessed to help alleviate ant-inflammatory diseases and their symptoms.


The second is caryophyllene and is found in plants such as cloves, rosemary, oregano and black pepper. So one would imagine this is where certain strains get their spicy peppery, mouth watering aromas and flavors from. The strain Meat Breath comes to mind. Caryophyllene is also the only known terpene found in cannabis that can bind to the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system. This particular terpene eases certain symptoms in conditions like colitis, diabetes, cerebral ischemia, anxiety and depression, liver fibrosis and Alzheimer-like diseases. Future research suggests that caryophyllene can be harnessed to help treat conditions that are accompanied by inflammatory symptoms.


The 3rd and final terpene that is predominant in cannabis is limonene. Limonene, as you may be able to guess, is the terpene responsible for the sweet citrus and lemon lime flavors and aromas that some cannabis plants produce. There have been some studies where limonene helped increase the production of antibody-producing cells. There has also been talks amongst researchers that the profile of limonene could be useful in treatments for Covid-19.

I myself prefer the sweet citrus aromas and flavors but not only because they please my palate but because limonene helps relax me. Although limonene is found more in sativas, it gives me a more relaxing sedative feeling. I have only ever found 2 sativas that actually keep me awake. I feel that all of our bodies are different so we will all receive these cannabinoids and terpenes differently. Unfortunately, like I’ve said before, it’s a matter of trial and error. Try as many varieties as you can and find out what combination of cannabinoids and terpenes works best for you. You’ll be surprised how many different results you can get with plants that produce the same cannabinoid percentages but different terpenes.


For me it’s all about the terps. I really hope this helps you, and maybe next month we can talk a bit about the myth of indicas and sativas. Until then, have a great month and stay high.

 
 



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