What we usually consume from cannabis is the flower. And just like any other flower, cannabis flower has its own recognizable smell. There are about 120 known terpenes found in cannabis. They coexist in the herb with cannabinoids like THC and CBD (sometimes even working with them for our better experience), but they are not psychoactive like THC. Some of those terpenes can be found in other plants, while others are exclusive to cannabis.
It’s not all about the smell, though. Terpenes also have therapeutic properties and can aid in plant’s medical effects. They interact with our endocannabinoid system and assist cannabinoids in entering the bloodstream, in a process called the entourage effect.
Myrcene, for instance, increases cell permeability and allows cannabinoids to be absorbed faster than they would on their own. Limonene is responsible for increasing serotonin levels which influences how weed affects our mood. That means these terpenes can influence neurotransmitters in our brain which entails that different strains may have different effects on our mood.
The “Entourage Effect” is a term coined by S. Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam back in 1998 to represent the biological synergy of cannabinoids and other compounds like flavonoids and, of course, terpenes.
According to Chris Emerson, these compounds work together to make “the sum of all the parts that leads to the magic or power of cannabis”. When terpenes work with cannabinoids like CBD and THC, they form a sinergy that creates stronger and better effects than both would achieve on their own.
This symbiosis between cannabinoids and terpenes is what gives cannabis its special powers, as it improves the absorption of cannabinoids, overcomes bacterial defense mechanisms and minimizes any side effects.
By Helena Miles, Content Manager, Greencamp. About Greencamp: Greencamp is a cannabis advocacy, education, and informational service. They have created an impressively complete informational regarding terpenes and their varied effects alone and in conjunction.