Have you ever wondered why the cannabis that smells the best usually feels the best too? It’s all thanks to terpenes, which can boost the effects of THC and CBD. They even offer a laundry list of their own health benefits and uses. Here’s everything you need to know about terpenes.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are found in every plant on earth. These organic hydrocarbon chemical compounds are responsible for the way a plant smells or tastes, and they help the plant avoid disease, ward off predators, and attract pollinators. You can think of terpenes as the essence of plants or their essential oils.
Every plant on earth is made up of hundreds of different terpene isolates. Each of their components is made up of varying levels of isolates, too. Take strawberries, for example— the fruit is sweet so that birds will eat them and spread their seeds. Alternatively, the foliage is green and bitter to avoid being eaten by animals or insects. At the same time, the bitter-tasting terpenes in the foliage offer antimicrobial properties that help protect the plant from diseases. The terpene profile that makes up each plant plays a unique role in the ecosystem, so it’s about a lot more than just scents and flavors!
Each terpene isolate comes with a list of unique health benefits and therapeutic properties. In recent years, we’ve discovered just how big of a role terpenes play in their environments, as well as a host of health benefits that extend to our bodies when we eat or smoke them.
The green rush of cannabis legalization has generated considerable interest in terpenes, allowing scientists to research each one more thoroughly. Current studies show that terpenes interact with our endocannabinoid system in the same way that cannabinoids like THC and CBD do.
Terpenes are capable of both boosting and limiting the effects of the 100+ cannabinoids found in cannabis. Cannabinoids are more effective when they’re taken with terpenes than when they’re taken alone, thanks to the discovery of a phenomenon known as the Entourage Effect.
You read that right, folks. Terpenes can boost your high or the effects of your CBD and THC.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The Entourage Effect is a phenomenon discovered in 2006 that found that terpenes and cannabinoids all interact with each other within our endocannabinoid systems and are responsible for most of the effects we see in medicinal plants like cannabis.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a body system full of receptors capable of processing the cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis just like it processes the natural endocannabinoids produced by our own bodies to help it stay regular.
Before the 2010s, growers were only focusing on cannabis genetics that threw over 30% THC. Selectively breeding plants for THC production limited the plant’s ability to produce other cannabinoids and even terpenes. Eventually, the community realized that there was a lot more to cannabis than THC. Even with THC percentages over 25%, these strains just didn’t feel as potent as classic strains with less THC because they lacked terpenes and other cannabinoids.
Further research conducted after Dr. Russo’s initial discovery of the Entourage Effect found that the full spectrum of cannabinoids and their terpenes worked together to boost the effectiveness of each compound. At its essence, the entourage effect highlights that cannabinoids and terpenes all work together to strengthen each other’s effects. That’s why full-spectrum cannabis feels more potent even with less THC.
The entourage effect is even responsible for the typical indica, sativa, and hybrid effects you’re familiar with. Since each strain contains its own unique ratio of terpenes and cannabinoids, each one will offer different effects. Terpenes like b-caryophyllene and myrcene are more commonly found in strains that promote relaxing, indica-like effects, while strains with energizing or cerebral, sativa-like effects are more likely to contain limonene or pinene.
A few of the most common terpenes and their uses
Now that we’ve got a good grasp of what terpenes are, let’s look at what they do. As we mentioned, terpenes can affect everything from mood to body chemistry and work with cannabinoids to promote other effects.
Most terpenes are naturally insecticidal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. However, many of the terpenes found in cannabis plants work with cannabinoids to promote more potent effects. For example, myrcene (one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis) works with THC to reduce muscle spasms and help you sleep. Below we’re diving into a few of the most common terpenes found in cannabis and their uses.
Uses: sleep-aid, anti-anxiety, muscle relaxant, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-acne
Effects: relaxed, rejuvenated, calm
Flavor: lavender, basil, sage, fruit flower blossoms
Odor: flowers, mint, citrus,
Uses: sleep aid, anti-depressant, muscle relaxer
Effects: sleepy, sedative, relaxed, uplifted
Flavor: hops, thyme, lemongrass, slightly metallic
Odor: earthy, skunky, herbal, musky
Uses: stress relief, mood-enhancer, anti-inflammatory, possible weight-loss aid
Effects: uplifting, mood-enhancing, energizing
Flavor: lemon, tangerine, grapefruit,
Odor: citrus fruits, citrus rinds, fresh-squeezed fruit juice
Uses: Asthma-aid, anti-inflammatory, energizing
Effects: Focused, stimulated, alert, energetic
Flavor: dill, rosemary, pine nuts
Odor: Pine trees and needles, wood, earth
Uses: anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, pain relief
Effects: Reduced pain, calm, uplifted, relaxed
Flavor: Cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, hops
Odor: spicy, pungent, herbal, earthy
How do people use terpenes?
Terpenes aren’t only for cannabis, though. Terpenes are used in practically every industry. You can find terpenes added to pharmaceuticals to help boost their effectiveness. You can find them in health foods and wellness shots as well as other flavored foods and beverages. Since terpenes are also known for moods and mental effects, they’re frequently used in aromatherapy to promote rest, relaxation, energy, and even reduce anxiety. You’ll also find terpenes in cosmetics, lotions, soaps, cleaning products, insect repellants, and perfumes.
Innovative brands like Peak Terpenes have taken strains and flavors to new highs by producing well-researched top-quality terpene products that have since taken the industry by storm. These days, there are lots of options available for utilizing the power of terpenes. They work wonders within the body and even outside of the body.
However, the complex relationship they share with cannabinoids makes them extra useful within cannabis and cannabis extracts. With that in mind, you’ll want to choose a top-shelf flower that smells good for the best results. A strong smell is a good indicator of terpene content, which can boost the effects of your cannabinoids and vice versa.