Simply, Terpenes are oily compounds found in plants that give them their smell. They are the molecules that make up the alternative medicine practice of essential oils. It just so happens that cannabis and hemp have high concentrations of different kind of terpenes and, depending on strains, different ratios of terpenes. This is why some strains have an earthy aroma, some have a citrus aroma, some have a fruity aroma, and others have a pine like aroma.
Terpenes are what you smell, and knowing what they are can deepen your understanding of what they can do.
Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, terpenes are aromatic oils that color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like citrus, berry, mint, and pine.
Plants develop terpenes for adaptive purposes. Mainly to either repel predators and lure pollinators. The idea is to make cannabis unattractive to eat for herbivore animals and yet produce a pungent enough smell to attract pollinators in order to make it easier to procreate. In other words, for the purposes of the cannabis plant, terpenes exist to make sure it doesn’t get eaten and allows it to procreate easier.
There are over 100 hundred different kinds of terpenes, that we have identified, and their ratios differ per strain. Each cannabis strain has different types and amounts of terpenes. This is why Jack Herer has a citrus smell and flavor and Blueberry strains smell and taste like blueberries.
What is most impressive about these compounds is their ability to interact synergistically with other compounds in the plant, like cannabinoids.
The entire alternative medicine practice of essential oils is due to terpenes alone. Terpenes by themselves can provide an impressive amount of medicinal benefits. When they interact with cannabinoids the benefits become so much more impressive.
Each individual terpene is associated with unique effects. Some can help you relax and relieve stress while some can promote focus and sharpness of thought.
The terpene linalool (also found in lavender) can help you relax, while the terpene limonene (also found in citrus) can elevate mood. Different ratios of these terpenes alone can provide a vast amount of effects. It can be argued how subtle or effective they are alone. However, when used with cannabis it becomes much more difficult to argue their effectiveness. Not to downplay the practice of essential oils, but to illustrate the effectiveness and medicinal benefits of medical marijuana.
The difference between indica and sativa is not due to a difference in THC or CBD content, but due to a difference in the terpene content that is reacting and working with the THC that is present.
Knowing the importance of terpene ratios offers cannabis connoisseurs the ability to really use cannabis as a medicine more effectively. For example, certain terpene content can be the difference between pain relief and only being able to focus on the pain. While in the case of anxiety, terpene content can either bring relaxation or agitation to the point of an anxiety attack.
We, at Chillum, believe that education in this matter is important and can be beneficial to those looking to use medical marijuana. We will be releasing a series on individual terpenes and their benefits in the near future in an effort to help educate the public for this matter.