Terpenes are the hydrocarbon chemical compounds produced naturally by all plants and some insects. They are the essential oils responsible for protecting the plants or insects from predators or damage by giving off unique scents and flavors. In each plant, hundreds of terpenes exist at different percentages which make up a plant’s terpene profile. All the terpenes work together to promote certain tastes, smells, and effects. In fact, terpenes and cannabinoids work together in a phenomenon known as the Entourage Effect, which can make cannabinoids, other terpenes, vitamins, minerals, and some proteins and lipids more effective within the body.
Here’s everything we know about terpenes, how they’re used, and why they’re important in the world of cannabis.
More About Terpenes
While terpenes are a big part of the entire plant kingdom, most research into terpenes has been conducted by the cannabis industry. Cannabis flowers contain over 100 different terpene isolates that each promote different smells and flavors. However, each terpene isolate effects cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system differently thanks to the entourage effect. Just like cannabinoids, terpenes also interact directly with our endocannabinoid systems. Terpenes can modulate the way your body reacts to cannabinoids by making them more effective or less effective.
For example, CBD is a cannabinoid known for making you feel relaxed. Cannabis strains high in CBD are often found in floral strains that contain Linalool or Myrcene terpenes, which also make you feel relaxed and at ease. The entourage effect helps these terpenes and cannabinoids to boost each other’s effectiveness so you experience a deeply relaxing smoke session. The result is that full-spectrum CBD in unison with terpenes is more effective than CBD isolate alone.
Another example is that Myrcene terpenes can make it easier for your endocannabinoid receptors to process the effects of THC. Essentially, it makes THC kick in faster, and in many cases, stronger.
Cannabinoids and terpenes together are also responsible for the typical sativa, indica, and hybrid effects you’ve come to expect from cannabis labeled this way. For example, sativa strains are more likely to contain energizing terpenes like Pinene and Limonene while Indica strains are more likely to contain Myrcene or Caryophyllene. Terpenes are largely responsible for the effects you feel from certain cannabis strains.
How are terpenes used?
Terpenes can be used in many different ways. Terpenes and essential oils have been used commercially in cleaning products, cosmetics, foods, and even beverages for years. More recently, terpenes have been used to make cannabis extracts taste and smell better.
However, terpenes make a great addition to anything that needs an extra burst of flavor. Many see great success adding it to foods and beverages. Adding Linalool terpenes to your evening tea makes for a mentally-soothing and deeply relaxing nightly ritual. You can even add them to essential oil diffusers and candles for an air-detoxifying burst of freshness.
Another great use is within topical skin products. Most terpene isolates are antibacterial in nature, so they may be able to help with acne breakouts. They have also shown to increase Vitamin E production in the skin, which helps keep your skin looking clearer, fuller, and healthier.
Buy and large, most people utilize terpenes for their effects with cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. When cannabis extracts are made, a lot of the time natural terpenes are stripped away from the product leaving behind a THC/CBD isolate. By reintroducing terpenes to inhalable products like e-cigs, vaporizer juice, cannabis vape cartridges, wax, shatter, or distillate, you can improve scents and flavors of the products, but also improve how effective they are. They even make a great addition to THC/CBD capsules, oils and tinctures by creating a better aftertaste and ensuring boosted effects than the isolate alone.
All in all, terpenes are important to be familiar with. By understanding terpene profiles, you’ll be more likely to understand how a specific cannabis strain will affect you and your high. Understanding terpenes makes it easier to pick a good strain. It also makes it easier to improve the smells, flavors, and effects of your own cannabis products, topicals, edibles, oils, and tinctures. One of the best resources online for terpene isolate information is Peak Supply Co. Be sure to follow their weekly blog for in-depth information backed by scientific evidence on each terpene isolate, how it works within the body and other plants that contain each isolate naturally.