Cannabis Terpenes 101: What are they and how do they affect the body?
When discussing the effects and characteristics of different cannabis strains, we often refer to cannabinoids, or the percentages of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids they contain. But there is another lesser-known compound that has an important role in the aromas, flavors and effects produced by the cannabis plant: terpenes.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and some animals. They are best known for producing the scents, tastes and even colors of different vegetation—for example, the varying smells and tastes associated with different cannabis strains—but they also help protect plants by repelling predators like animals, fungi and insects.
The truth is, there are still a lot of unknowns about how terpenes work within the human body. It is thought that the dominant terpenes, or terpene profile, of a cannabis strain interact with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to create various effects.
You know how each cannabis strain makes you feel a little bit different—for instance, one might be relaxing, and another, a bit more energizing? While we tend to attribute these effects to a strain’s cannabinoid content (in other words, the percentages of CBD, THC, etc.), some cannabis experts say we should be focusing on the terpene profile instead.
It is believed that terpenes interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), working synergistically with cannabinoids to produce what is called “the entourage effect”: a theory that the effects of different compounds are enhanced when they are all consumed together (for instance, as in full spectrum cannabis products).
5 common terpenes and their effects
There are over 100 terpenes that we know of in the cannabis plant. The following is a guide to the five most common, their properties and potential benefits.
Also found in:hops
Potential benefits:may help with sleep;reducing inflammation and chronic pain; supplement during cancer treatment
Scent:citrusy, like lemons
Also found in:cosmetics; cleaning products
Potential benefits:mood lifting; may help reduce stress; antifungal and antibacterial properties
Also found in:lavender, mint, cinnamon, coriander
Potential benefits: sleep and relaxation, arthritis, seizures, insomnia, depression, cancer treatment
Also found in:black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, basil and rosemary