The popularity of cannabis as alternative medicine is steadily increasing in India. Every day, we learn something new about the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of cannabis. While the words CBD, THC, and cannabinoids have become quite familiar to us, we sometimes come across words like terpenes and flavonoids. Descriptive pieces tell us that these are another type of chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant, with their own set of therapeutic properties. But how much do we really know about them?
In this article, we will understand what are terpenes in cannabis and why are they important?
What are Terpenes in Cannabis?
Terpenes are highly aromatic compounds that give cannabis its distinctive smell. They are also present in many other plants such as lavender and rosemary. But they’re usually associated with cannabis since cannabis plants contain the highest concentration of them.
The fragrance of most plants is the result of different combinations of terpenes. Isolated terpenes are used to create the flavours and scents of everyday products such as perfumes, body care products, and even food items.
Terpenes produce vibrant smells which is why they are the basis of many essential oils. Terpenes are also an integral part of many alternative therapies like aromatherapy.
What are Terpenes’ Importance in Cannabis?
Cannabis plants contain terpenes in addition to cannabinoids. Research suggests that some terpenes can interact with cannabinoids and increase their therapeutic effects on the body. This process is commonly witnessed in broad- and full-spectrum CBD extracts, where cannabinoids and terpenes work together to provide enhanced relief. We usually refer to this process as the entourage effect.
Entourage effect defines the process when all the compounds of cannabis plants work together in synergy and give better results than when taken individually. It is believed to emerge by the interaction between terpenes and cannabinoids. When multiple compounds are combined together, their medicinal properties combine to give enhanced results.
What are Terpenes’ Benefits?
Terpenes are beneficial in many ways, such as:
- They provide natural protection against bacteria, pests, fungus, and predators.
- In some plants, terpenes attract pollinators for fertilization.
- Smelling some terpenes help in enhancing mood and relieving stress.
- They can alter the effects of THC and CBD in the body.
Different types of Terpenes have different qualities. Here are some of the most common benefits of terpenes found in cannabis:
Limonene is perhaps the most commonly found terpene. It gives lemons and oranges their citrusy smell. Studies indicate that limonene has the following therapeutic properties:
Limonene can also modulate the behaviour of certain immune cells, protecting the body from a range of disorders.
Pinene is responsible for the fresh scent of plants like pine needles, basil, and rosemary. Its therapeutic benefits include focus, alertness, and concentration. It allows more air into the lungs and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Pinene can fight some infectious germs.
It is an antioxidant that is commonly found in plants like hops, lemongrass, and thyme. It mainly:
- Promotes calm and relaxation in the body.
- Protects the brain from oxidative stress.
- Improves heart health.
- Works as anti-inflammatory compound.
Caryophyllene is also present in many herbs and vegetables like cloves, black pepper, and cinnamon etc. It has a spicy, wooden smell and its anti-inflammatory properties can help in managing and reducing inflammatory and nerve pain.
Linalool is one of the most important compounds in aromatherapy. It is found in abundance in the lavender plant and is responsible for the calming effect we experience on smelling lavender or its essential oils. A 2018 study notes that Linalool displays a range of therapeutic properties such as:
They have a wide range of biological and therapeutic properties, for instance, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, antioxidant, and antimicrobial. But they also work amazingly well with cannabinoids, producing the entourage effect.
Terpenes speed up the passing of cannabinoids in our bloodstream. They change our neurotransmitter’s reaction to cannabinoids and create soothing and sedative sensations. Terpenes also help diminish the overall psychoactive effect of THC on our bodies. Terpenes are indeed responsible for why we can sense the difference between the smell and taste of different types of cannabis but they are way more than just about fragrance and flavour.
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