The cannabis plant consists of many different chemicals and compounds. Roughly 140 of these form part of a large class of aromatic hydrocarbons known as terpenes. They are synthesized in glandular trichomes and increases production with exposure to light.
Terpenes are usually found in high doses in unfertilized female plants. The aroma from a cannabis plant is because of the terpenes present within the flower. However, terpenes do much more than just provide aroma.
How Terpenes Work
They play an important role in synergizing with other cannabinoids. This is fairly new grounds for the cannabis community and only recently have people been looking into terpenes more closely.
Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters and act as serotonin uptake inhibitors similar to some antidepressants. Additionally, terpenes increase dopamine activity.
According to Dr. Ethan Russo, the “Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy” increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, epilepsy and even cancer.
Different Types of Terpenes
There are many different type of terpenes available. Below we’ll be looking into a short list of the most prevalent ones.
It is the most common terpene produced by the cannabis plant. The flavor profile of myrcene is musky, earthy and herbal. Additionally, myrcene is typically responsible for the “couch lock effect” many cannabis smokers have come to known. Myrcene is also found in a wide variety of other plants including eucalyptus, wild thyme and lemon grass. Medical applications of myrcene includes, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antimutagenic.
It is known as a byciclic monoterpenoid and smells like pine and fir. It is the most common terpene found in nature. Pinene is one of the principle monoterps that is important physiologically to both plants and animals. Medical applications for Pinene include; anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator and local antiseptic.
Limonene has a very high citrus like aroma. It generally creates an uplifting sensation in relation to mood and attitude. Limonene suppresses the growth of bacteria and certain species of fungi. Limonene has even been found to help with weight loss. Plants usually produce limonene as a natural insecticide.
This non-cyclic monoterpenoid and produces a calm, relaxing sensation. With an aroma close to lavender and other floral undertones, linalool has been used as a sleep aid for centuries. It also reduces the effects of anxiety produced by pure THC. This creates a window where it could be potentially used for treating psychotic disorders as well as anxiety disorders. Additionally, it also boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation and can restore cognitive and emotional function.
Many more Terpenes
I’m not going to go into the full list of the terpenes available today because there are many. Each one of these chemicals have significant medical application. It’s important that we not only focus on studying the main cannabinoids within the cannabis plant, but also start looking more into them. In conclusion there is a wealth of medicine waiting to be discovered that could radically revolutionize the medical world forever.