Terpene levels have recently become a new measure to look out for when choosing between marijuana products. Cannabis extracts containing the full spectrum of terpenes are claimed to be more potent than those containing isolated cannabinoids. As the interest for the potential uses and benefits of terpenes grows, a basic understanding of what they are exactly and what effects they provide might help you in choosing the best marijuana terpenes and marijuana products for your needs.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds found in various plants and some insects that cause most of the scents associated with plants, and are common components of fragrances and flavorings.
In the cannabis plant, terpenes are produced in the same glands as cannabinoids like THC and CBD. They are responsible for the distinct aromas and flavors of particular cannabis varieties, but it is not for this quality that they’ve generated so much interest in the past few years. Terpenes have been found to enhance or hinder the effects of cannabinoids, increasing the popularity of products high in terpenes as well as their research.
Potential effects of terpenes
Current research suggests that terpenes and cannabinoids in marijuana modulate the effects of THC and make it act differently than when extracted and isolated.
A study conducted in 2006 indicated the enhanced effects of THC, the most prominent compound in cannabis, when combined with other cannabinoids, producing the so-called entourage effect, and went on further to research the synergistic interaction of cannabinoids and terpenes. It was found that terpenes may enhance the therapeutic qualities of cannabis extracts and expand their clinical usage.
A study from 2011 indicated that non-cannabinoid compounds such as terpenes increase the therapeutic effects of THC by inhibiting its intoxicating effects, further enhancing the potential of medical cannabis for treatment of various conditions, ranging from mild to severe.
Marijuana terpenes and their uses
Over 100 terpenes can be found in the cannabis plant, with each strain having a unique composition. Marijuana-derived terpenes determine the effects of particular cannabis strains, with some producing mood-elevating effects and increasing alertness while others promote relaxation and stress-relief. Here are some of the most common cannabis terpenes:
Aroma: earthy, musky, herbal, with subtle fruity undertones
Used in the treatment of: pain, inflammation, insomnia, ulcers
Potential effects and benefits: analgesic, antibiotic, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antimutagenic; sedating, calming, relaxing
Also present in: mango, hops, lemongrass, thyme, citrus fruits, bay leaves, eucalyptus
Aroma: pine, fir
Used in the treatment of: asthma, pain, inflammation, coughing, anxiety, cancer
Potential effects and benefits: expectorant, bronchodilator, local antiseptic; aids memory, increases alertness, improves concentration
Also present in: pine, rosemary, basil, parsley, dill, sage, some citrus fruits
Used in the treatment of: pain, inflammation, acid reflux, bronchitis, anxiety, depression, cancer
Potential effects and benefits: anti fungal, anti bacterial, anti carcinogenic, tumor preventing, boosts immunity; stress-relieving, mood elevating, promotes weight loss, improves mental focus, increases sex drive
Also present in: rosemary, peppermint, juniper, fruit zests, pine needles
Other uses: insecticide, scent, cleaning agents
Aroma: pepper, woody, spicy, cloves
Used in the treatment of: pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, cancer, ulcers, toothache, arthritis
Potential effects and benefits: antioxidant, analgesic, anti fungal; sedating and relaxing
Also present in: black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, basil, lavender
Aroma: floral with lavender and subtle spicy undertones
Used in the treatment of: pain, inflammation (especially lung inflammation), insomnia, anxiety, psychosis, depression, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease
Potential effects and benefits: anesthetic, analgesic, anti-convulsant; boosts immunity, improves cognitive and emotional functioning, mood elevating, sedating, calming, relaxing
Also present in: lavender, various flowers, mint, cinammon, rosewood, birch trees, some fungi
Other uses: pesticide, flavoring agent, scent, bath and body products
Aroma: woody, earthy, hops
Used in the treatment of: inflammation
Potential effects and benefits: anti-bacterial, anorectic (appetite-supressing)
Also present in: coriander, hops, basil, cloves
Delta 3 Carene
Aroma: piney, earthy, with a citrusy flavor
Used in the treatment of: inflammation, arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease
Potential effects and benefits: stimulates memory, reduces excess bodily fluids like tears, running noses and menstrual flows, promotes bone growth and repair
Also present in: basil, bell pepper, cedar, pine, rosemary
Aroma: earthy, minty, spicy, herbal
Used in the treatment of: insomnia, pain
Potential effects and benefits: anti-septic, analgesic, bronchodilator; reduces fatigue, stress-relieving
Also present in: camphor, rosemary, mint
Other uses: insect repellent
Aroma: spicy, minty
Used in the treatment of: inflammation, pain
Potential effects and benefits: anti-fungal, analgesic, antibacterial, antioxidant; improves concentration
Also present in: eucalyptus, tea tree, mugwort, bay leaves
Other uses: cough supressants, mouthwash, body powder
Aroma: pine, clove, lilac
Used in the treatment of: inflammation, anxiety
Potential effects and benefits: antioxidant, antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral, antimalarial; stimulates immunity, sedating, calming, relaxing
Also present in: pine, lilacs, lime blossoms, eucalyptus sap
Other uses: perfumes, cosmetics, flavors
The effects of terpenes can change according to the presence of other compounds, as an occurrence known as the entourage effect activates. Further studies are necessary for better understanding of this phenomenon.
Cannabis analysis laboratories have begun to more closely examine terpene content for even better understanding of the effects of particular cannabis strains. With the research intensifying, marijuana terpenes and their synergistic effects might provide us with even better, more potent medical marijuana products in the future.