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What are Terpenes?

With cannabis becoming more commonplace in legal states, "cannabis speak." is as well. You have probably heard words like cannabinoids, trichomes, and terpenes, as well as many others. For our purposes, I am going to talk about "terpenes."

According to

"Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants and some animals. They're responsible for the aromas, flavors, and even colors associated with various types of vegetation. In terms of cannabis, terpenes are what make certain strains smell or taste different from others." In other words, terpenes are not special to cannabis. Terpenes can be found in most plants but more commonly in sage, thyme, citrus fruit, tea and of course, cannabis.

Terpenes have a wide range of medicinal uses among which anti-plasmodial activity is notable as its mechanism of action is similar to the popular antimalarial drug in use—chloroquine. Terpenes are also found in all types of household products like cleaning solvents, pesticides, and dyes. They have also been used in aromatherapy treatments.

Plants have these terpenes to stay protected from harsh weather and predators. They are produced in trichomes, the sticky stalks that coat flowers. In addition, they work to attract pollinators maintain propagation.

Terpenes alone will not get you high, sorry. However, when combined with other compounds found in cannabis, the terpenes can add to the effect of your cannabis. This is called the "Entourage Effect." According to Wikipedia, "The entourage effect is a proposed mechanism by which cannabis compounds other than THC act synergistically with it to modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant." Therefore, the “entourage effect” is the suggested positive contribution derived from the addition of terpenes to cannabinoids.

Some of the more common terpenes and the expected effect.

  • Beta-caryophyllene. A major ingredient in cloves, rosemary, and hops,

  • beta-caryophyllene thought to be beneficial for managing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • Beta-pinene. If you’ve strolled through a coniferous forest, you know the smell of beta-pinene, which could also have potentially both

  • anti-depressant and anti-cancer properties.

  • Humulene. This terpene is found in ginseng, which has long been used in folk medicine for energizing effects.

  • Limonene. One of the most commonly found terpenes, limonene has distinct citrus notes and may potentially have anti-cancer properties. In studies, it’s been shown to have anti-anxiety properties.

  • Linalool. Lovers of lavender as aromatherapy may want to seek out cannabis with linalool, which may help alleviate stress.

  • Myrcene. Found in mangoes, myrcene has antifungal and antibacterial properties and could also have sedating effects.

It's important to remember, in addition to cannabinoids and terpenes, your physiology, past cannabis experience, and the setting in which you use cannabis can also affect how you feel. Terpenes are just one piece of the equation, but they can be an interesting way to play around with different products and find what you like best.( )

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