Terpenes are normally associated with the flavor and fragrance of cannabis strains. That, however, is not the whole story. These diverse compounds have a far greater range of purpose, in regards to cannabis, than simply taste and smell. Here is what we do know about what makes terpenes so critical to cannabis, starting with the very basics of what they are and how they function.
Nearly all plants on earth contain terpenes, including the including vegetables and fruits that we eat. Some animal species contain them as well, though that is much rarer.
When it comes to cannabis, terpenes are multi-functional, to say the least. To begin with, they are the plants first line of defense against such things against bacteria, insects, and other forms of harmful intruders including UV rays from excessive sunlight. Alongside cannabinoids, a chemical cousin to terpenes, they exist in much larger quantities in the buds of the plant. The buds, or flowers, are the most crucial part of the plant for humans and for the continuation of the plant itself by the production of seeds. There are well over one hundred types of terpenes in the world, many of which are found in cannabis.
As stated above, terpenes are found in other plants as well, causing their fragrance and taste just as they are responsible for the unique smell of each cannabis strain. Mycrene is the name of a particular form of terpene responsible for its fragrance found only in cannabis. That said, the more we find out about specific terpenes, the more we should consider which strains we are investing in. Each type of terpene being responsible for different things, such as pain relief, reduction of inflammation, and more.
A few of the most well-known and powerful terpenes we know about are caryophyllene, which is found in a large number of green vegetables and herbs, as well as limonene which is found namely in citrus fruits and cannabis strains with a citrus-like smell.
It should be noted that terpenes also work well especially with other cannabinoids. This, in the scientific community this is known as the “Entourage Effect.”
The most important of these effects is the way that they speed up the process in which cannabinoids enter our bloodstreams. Likewise, hand in hand with CBD, terpenes reduce the long term memory loss that is typically associated with THC. They also help reduce the overall psycho-activity of THC. Linalool is another of the terpenes linked to the entourage effect. It helps our neurotransmitters and cannabinoids, together, to create sedative and anxiolytic sensations.
It becomes clearer as time goes on just how critical terpenes are to cannabis. That said, future research will undoubtedly bring about even more knowledge of the benefits of terpenes in cannabis.