As you explore details on CBD and its benefits, you will likely notice terpenes mentioned frequently. Terpenes are a good thing for CBD products, but what are they? Take a closer look at terpenes to understand what this substance is, its benefits, and more.
What Are Terpenes? Why Do They Matter?
Most people use the words terpene and terpenoids in the same way, although they are technically slightly different. Terpenes are a type of hydrocarbon, so they only contain hydrogen and carbon. In contrast, terpenoids are either chemically modified or denatured via oxidation. This process involves drying plus curing of the flowers.
In cannabis, the plant synthesizes terpenes within glandular trichomes. The production of terpenes increases with higher light exposure. It is most common to find high concentrations of terpenes in female cannabis flowers that are unfertilized before they deteriorate with age. Producers can extract essential oil via vaporization or steam distillation.
Terpenes are important for protecting the plants naturally from insects, environmental stress, bacteria, and fungus. The other main function of terpenes is creating the aroma that is associated with cannabis. Terpenes are commonly found in fragrances and flavorings. Agencies like the FDA consider terpenes to be safe.
Terpenes can also have an impact on various neurotransmitters and receptors. They can inhibit serotonin uptake or enhance norepinephrine activity, both of which certain antidepressants do. They can also increase dopamine activity and augment GABA.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes: What Is the Difference?
The best way to think about the difference between cannabinoids and terpenes is that they work in harmony but serve different roles. Cannabinoids, or CBD, produce the effects that you are looking for, from calming to pain relief. The terpenes produce the aroma. At the same time, they enhance the effects of CBD.
The Purpose of Terpenes
As mentioned, terpenes are the component of cannabis and CBD products that is responsible for the scent. The type of terpene and its concentration will dramatically affect its aroma.
In addition to the role of scent, terpenes also have their own therapeutic properties. This can vary slightly by terpene. Myrcene will increase the cell permeability, so cannabinoids get absorbed more quickly. Limonene can increase serotonin levels, boosting your mood.
Additionally, the entourage effect means that the presence of terpenes in CBD products helps enhance the relief you experience from the cannabinoids.
The Entourage Effect
The entourage effect in terms of terpenes refers to when glycerol esters, an inactive endogenous fatty acid, enhance the activity of 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol cannabinoid. The entourage effect essentially refers to the fact that terpenes, CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids all work together.
In other words, using just a portion of the plant will produce some results. For the best relief, however, you need to use the whole plant or at least compounds from various parts of them. This means that terpenes can downplay or intensify the impact of cannabinoids.
Differences Between Terpenes and Why Reactions Vary Even in a Single Harvest
Scientists have shown that there is a great deal of difference in terpenes and medical marijuana strains, even between various harvests. This was most famously shown by S. Casano et. al. Science shows that the concentrations of terpenes can vary between and sometimes within a harvest. That variation can lead to differences in your reaction, even if you consume CBD from the same cannabis strain or harvest.
It is easier to identify a specific strain of marijuana if the terpene appears in higher concentrations. The variations in scent can also indicate what the particular strain of cannabis will be best at.
Most people agree that if a strain smells like a clove or musk, then it likely has high levels of the terpene myrcene and will have relaxing, sedative effects. Similarly, piney smells are associated with the terpene pinene and linked to memory retention and mental alertness. The terpene limonene smells lemony and is linked to boosts in attitude and overall mood.
Other common terpenes include caryophyllene, linalool, terpinolene, camphene, terpineol, phellandrene, careen, humulene, pulegone, sabinene, and geraniol. That is by no means a conclusive list.
The Terpene Wheel
The terpene wheel is a wheel that organizes a range of terpenes based on varying factors. You can use the terpene wheel to identify various strains of medical marijuana-based on the presence of different terpenes or varying concentrations of similar terpenes.
Green House Seed Co-developed the most famous terpene wheel. This wheel is based on the flavors of each strain. The goal is to help people who want to use either medical marijuana or CBD choose a strain based on the effects they want. From there, other companies also developed similar flavor wheels or terpene wheels. Of course, most focus on their own product offerings, but they still provide good general information.
Testing for Terpenes and Potency
When you purchase a CBD product, it should have some sort of laboratory analysis. This analysis will include the potency of the CBD, in terms of CBD concentration and the presence of THC. It should also include whether terpenes are present and which terpenes those are.
As cannabis becomes legal in more areas and CBD becomes more popular, more laboratory tests include specific details regarding terpenes. This can give people the chance to choose a CBD product based on the presence of specific terpenes that cater to their needs. You can consult the terpene wheel to view the types of terpenes that best meet your requirements. Then look for those terpenes in the CBD’s testing information.
Terpenes are one of the naturally occurring elements in cannabis, and they give the plant its aroma. Additionally, terpenes can enhance the effects of the CBD via the entourage effect. Certain terpenes even have their own strengths, from boosting serotonin to easier absorption of the CBD. Because of this role, many people who use CBD products look for the presence of terpenes before buying. If you want, you can even look for specific terpenes depending on what you hope to achieve with the CBD.