Guide to Terpenes: Magical Chemicals That Smell Good
Cannabis never stops fascinating us. We still don’t know much about the plant. Scientists have only started to debunk myths surrounding cannabis and its compounds. Medical research is mostly focused on cannabinoids, but findings show that they are not the only factor that affects our bodies when we use marijuana.
We can hear you scratching your head.
Remember that last time when you broke down your buds? Remember that smell, rich and full?
Say hi to terpenes, the best friend of a cannabis connoisseur.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds that produce smell in a variety of plants and some insects. Their primary role is to protect a plant from herbivores and attract pollinators. Development of terpenes is a complex process influenced by climate, weather, maturation and soil type. Most often, terpenes can be found in resin produced in plants. Terpenes also play a significant role as biosynthetic building blocks in almost all living creatures.
Terpenes are the primary components of the essential oils of plants and flowers. These oils are widely used as fragrances in perfumery, as well as active ingredients in medicine and aromatherapy. Synthetic variations of natural terpenes serve to expand a variety of aromas and flavors used in food additives.
Cannabis sativa plants possess at least 100 identified terpenes. Compounds are secreted in the same glands that produce THC and CBD. Terpenes color cannabis varieties, giving them distinctive flavors of citrus, mint, pine, and berry. Every strain has its unique terpene type and composition.
A fascinating attribute of terpenes is their ability to interact synergistically with other compounds of the plant. In the past few decades, growers became focused on cannabis strains high in THC, while the proportion of other cannabinoids has become relatively small. It led to the belief that terpenes were in charge of unique effects in different strains.
What do they do?
Terpenes and our bodies interact through endocannabinoid system. THC binds to regions with a big number of receptors in the brain. They are responsible for psychoactive effects. Terpenes also bind there and affect the chemical output of the receptors. They can also modify the amount of THC that passes through the blood-brain barrier. Terpenes may even affect neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, regulating their rate of production and destruction, as well as their movement and availability of receptors. This way, terpenes are considered to be an excellent mediator between our bodies and therapeutic cannabinoids.
The effects of such interactions vary from terpene to terpene. Thus, limonene, linalool, and pinene paired with CBD may help to treat acne, while CBG and pinene may be used as new antiseptic agents. Myrcene contributes to treating sleeping disorders. Caryophyllene has gastroprotective properties. Together, CBD, limonene, and linalool can relieve social anxiety disorder.
What are the most common terpenes?
Scientists study terpenes and labs test them, so consumers would have a better idea of what effects they may expect from a particular product. Not every strain will have a specific amount of given terpenes. Many factors contribute to it, including environment, soil, or use of fertilizers. However, research on terpenes may open new scientific and medical horizons.