- Boston Dickerson, CSO of Blue Sage Cannabis in Missouri writes: As spring begins across the United States, many things come to mind. Blossoming fragrant flowers, sweet-smelling berries blowing in the breeze, and fresh-squeezed aromatic lemonade stands on every corner, to name but a few. Tying all these things together are “Terpenes.”
- Our world is engulfed in a “sea” of terpenes that often times elicits physiological responses in humans and, many times, in animals as well.
- Cannabis has been shown to express over 200 different terpenes across the vast array of cultivars available and ever-expanding in today’s society.
- Although terpenes are so abundantly found in cannabis, they are not discussed nearly as often as cannabinoids. Due to this lack of discussion, many patients are left wondering, “What are terpenes? What do terpenes do? Why should I as a patient care about terpenes?”
- This article will provide a brief, broad-stroke overview of a few of the hundreds of terpenes found in cannabis.
Boston Dickerson: CSO of Blue Sage Cannabis Speaks on Terpenes
Terpenes are a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in plants’ essential oils, including cannabis. Ed Rosenthal said, “If THC is the engine, terpenes are the steering wheel.” (Edward “Ed” Rosenthal is a California horticulturist, author, publisher, and Cannabis grower known for his advocacy for the legalization of marijuana use. He served as a columnist for High Times Magazine during the 1980s and 1990s) To illustrate this, imagine you’re driving down a straight road. When you press on the gas, you can feel the car “intensely” accelerate towards your destination, your “goal.” That “intensity,” that “power,” is the cannabinoids in cannabis. Now imagine that same car; however, your destination requires you to turn now, as there is a curve in the road. The powerful engine is lovely; however, it won’t rotate the tires and guide the car towards the destination. This is a simplified way to think about terpenes and their effects on the patient’s experience.
The same thing responsible for those fragrant smells is partly and, in some cases, wholly accountable for effects experienced by the cannabis patient. Effects include but are not limited to anti-inflammation, pain relief, anti-microbial, anti-emetic, mental focus, motivation, sedation, and much more. Many terpenes express multiple effects on people and can be beneficial in many ways to the medical patient. For instance, Myrcene, a terpene found in cannabis and the most abundant terpene in cannabis, which may make up as much as 65% of the total terpene profile in some strains, has multiple benefits. Myrcene produces earthy or musky notes on the nose, similar to cloves. Myrcene may also help reduce inflammation and chronic pain and may be included in cancer treatments to help with sedation and pain relief. Mangoes are rich in Myrcene, and this may help to boost the effect of THC. In many circles, it is believed that eating a mango about 45 minutes before smoking or vaping cannabis will produce a more substantial and pronounced mental “buzz.”
Limonene is the second most abundant terpene found in cannabis, and it is distinguished by its citrusy, often “lemony” aroma. It is also found in high amounts in the rind of citrus fruits such as oranges and tangerines. It is commonly used in the manufacturing of cleaning products and cosmetics. Limonene is mood-enhancing, and you will find it being used in aromatherapy consistently to enhance the mood. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties and insecticidal properties. Lastly, recent studies have revealed that this terpene may play a role in reducing tumor size.
Another commonly found terpene in cannabis with multiple medical benefits is pinene. Pinene is another terpene that may produce anti-inflammatory effects in humans and animals. Pinene also helps to improve airflow in the lungs and overall respiratory function. Pinene has been reported to inhibit memory loss related to the excessive use of THC (similar to olivetol). Pinenes aroma has been described as that of pine trees and having a positive effect on mental clarity. Where pinene produces mental clarity and alertness, some terpenes like linalool, in contrast, are known for producing relaxation and inducing a deep sleep state in humans and many animals. Linalool is responsible for some of the floral notes often attributed to various cannabis varieties. Lavender and other aromatic herbs also contain linalool.
Another potentially medically beneficial terpene is eucalyptol. Eucalyptol is also known as cineol. Eucalyptol produces minty notes similar to what is produced by eucalyptus trees. Surprisingly, a 2014 study also showed that eucalyptol’s anti-inflammatory properties could help treat Alzheimer’s disease by reducing neuroinflammation (Neurotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Medical Elementology and Toxicology, Jamia Hamdard (Hamdard University), Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi, 110062, India.) In addition to reducing inflammation throughout the body, studies have also shown this terpenoid to be an effective antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, and insecticidal agent.
A commonly sought-after terpene for medical benefits is Beta-Caryophyllene. Caryophyllene has a strong spicy aroma and is common in black pepper, cinnamon, and spices such as oregano, basil, and rosemary. Caryophyllene is also the only terpene that binds to CB2 receptors. It is commonly used in topical creams as an anti-inflammatory agent. Besides all this, it has also shown promise in alcohol addiction rehabilitation.
These are but just a few of the hundreds of terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis has an abundance of compounds that aid in the desired effects of the patients. Unfortunately, many patients look to THC and CBD as the only compounds of their medicine to consider when medicating. This is due to the lack of discussion about terpenes and their numerous uses and effects. At Blue Sage Cannabis Company, we would like to open that discussion over several articles and shed light on key some of these critical components. Blue Sage enjoys educating those patients in need about the world of terpenes and their potential to help with various desired effects. With that being said, keep in mind the effect profile of any given terpene may change in the presence of other compounds in a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.” More research is needed to understand each terpene’s effect when used in harmony with others, this and more in future articles. From all of us at Blue Sage Cannabis Company, thank you, Missouri patients. We look forward to serving each and every one of you.
About the Author
Boston Dickerson is a Co-Founder of Blue Sage Cannabis Company and holds an M.B.A and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri.
Where to Visit
For more information, visit Blue Sage Cannabis at:
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Ed Rosenthal – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Rosenthal