Unless you have been residing underneath a rock for the past few years, you will have noticed that people are paying less attention to the THC percentage in products and more attention to the terpene role in producing certain highs. However, did you know that these terpenes are the unknown puppet masters of the cannabis plant and have been in control of your high at all times?
What Is A Terpene?
Terpenes are the aromatic oils located in the cannabis plant giving them their unique and distinguishable fragrance. Of course, terpenes can be found in all plants – not just cannabis. They operate to repel certain predators and bugs, while at the same time attracting the correct insects to assist in effective pollination.
Terpenes are secreted from the same sticky resin glands as CBD and THC, as well as many other cannabinoids. There are approximately 20,000 terpenes identified in the plant kingdom with, on average, 200 appearing in the cannabis plant. Various elements can affect the types of terpenes a cannabis plant has as, believe it or not, the same cannabis strain does not always produce similar aromatic oils. Factors such as climate, fertilizer, soil, and the plant age play crucial roles in the overall combination found in the specific plant.
How Can Terpenes Affect One’s High?
We are already aware that THC and CBD bind to the cannabinoid receptors in our brains to produce a particular ‘high’; however, it was only recently discovered that terpenes play a pivotal role in controlling how the cannabinoids operate. Terpenes will influence how the cannabinoid interacts with the body via control of how much CBD and THC enters the brain through the blood-brain barrier. So, while both plants may present with similar levels of THC and CBD, they could produce completely different highs dependent on the controlling terpenes.
For instance, sativa plants present with a dominant terpene known as limonene. This type of terpene is typically located in citrus fruits, and pinene can also be found in conifers such as cedars, pine trees and spruces. Limonene and pinene tend to trigger a euphoric and energetic high. On the other hand, indica is more dominant in the terpene known as linalool and myrcene – the former found in lavender, and the latter found in herbs and hops. This type of terpenes promotes a calming and sedative high.
In the case of hybrid cannabis plants or mixture strains, you will obtain a mixture of effects that are linked to the combination of terpenes in the plant over the breeding of a sativa and indica plant. The cocktail of energetic terpenes with sedative terpenes is what provides each plant with the unique high.
What About Terpenes In Medical Marijuana?
When it comes to medical marijuana, terpenes are a significant factor in choosing a strain to treat specific medical conditions. Choosing the exact strain is complicated, but with the range of medical strains makes it more difficult to manage.
While linalool is highly effective to stabilize mental health conditions such as insomnia, depression, anxiety and stress; the terpene humelene is more effective as an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory to treat pain conditions. Common terpenes, such as caryophyllene, can also be used to treat insomnia; however, it can also be used for muscle spasms. Eucalyptol, the terpene found in eucalyptus, is most effective to treat asthma.
Laboratories are now beginning to provide terpene levels in addition to CBD and THC percentages, for the dedicated cannabis user. A high level of terpene is an indicator of high quality cannabis strain; however, terpene levels in excess of 40 percent are too extreme.