Cannabis Terpenes and Their Effects

Written by on August 20, 2019 in Healing & Natural Remedies, Health with 0 Comments

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Most animal studies using cannabidiol use a synthetic single molecular CBD produced in biochemical laboratories for research purposes. Meanwhile, whole plant extracts usually include CBD, THC and more than 400 trace compounds. Many of these compounds act synergistically to create what scientists call the “Entourage effect”, a mechanism by which compounds found in the cannabis plant act synergistically to modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant, primarily by the action of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which increases the therapeutic benefits of individual ingredients, so that the therapeutic effect of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts.

It's important to consider the effect of the Entourage effect (or lack thereof) when extrapolating data from animal studies: 100 milligrams of synthetic, single molecular CBD isn't an equivalent to 100 milligrams of extract from an entire CBD-rich cannabis plant! The good thing is, many producers of CBD Oil products started to add flavonoids to their oils and liquids, making them not only smell like a “real cannabis” but also give a fantastic taste that’s truly indistinguishable from smoking real cannabis.

Cannabis is inherently a polypharmaceutical and the synergy results from the interaction between many of its components.


Let's talk about the role of terpenes. Terpenes are volatile aromatic molecules that evaporate easily and get into your nose. Various researchers have stressed the pharmacological importance of terpenes or terpenoids, which are the basis of aromatherapy, a popular method of treatment for the whole. The stunning aroma and the exceptionally psychoactive taste of marijuana are caused by the terpenes that dominate the strain.

About 200 terpenes have been found in cannabis, but only a few of these fragrant oily substances appear in quantities significant enough to be noticed or smelled in this case. These include monoterpenes, diterpenes and sesquiterpenes, which are characterized by a number of repeating units of 5 carbon atoms, called the structural isoprene, the hallmark of all terpenoid compounds. The terpenes in marijuana have given the plant a sustained evolutionary progression. The suffocating terpenoid oils repel insects and grazing animals, when others prevent the formation of fungi.

As it turns out, terpenes are beneficial for both humans and plants. In September 2011, Dr. Ethan Russo's report in the British Journal of Pharmacology discussed the wide-ranging therapeutic benefits of terpenoids, which are sometimes not present in CBD “only” products.

Beta-kariofilen, for example, is a sesquiterpene found in black pepper oil, oregano and other edible herbs, as well as various cannabis strains and many green leafy vegetables. It's gastro-protective, ideal for treating certain ulcers and appears to be a promising drug for inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases, as it's directly linked to the peripheral cannabinoid receptor known as “CB2”.

In 2008, Swiss scientist Jürg Gertsch documented the affinity of the binding of beta-karyllene to the CB2 receptor and described it as a “dietary cannabinoid”. It's the only known terpenoid that directly activates cannabinoid receptors in our brain. This is one of the reasons why green leafy vegetables are so healthy.

Terpenoids and cannabinoids increase blood flow, increase cortex activity and kill respiratory pathogens, including MRSA, a nasty antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have killed tens of thousands of Americans in recent years. Cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions can produce synergies with regard to the treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial diseases.

A bouquet of marijuana terpenes – “perfume rebellion”, as the poet (and hashish connoisseur) Arthur Rimbaud once said – plays a different, important role. Terpenes and CBDs reduce the dangerous psychoactive effects of THC. Cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions increase the beneficial effect of cannabis, while reducing the anxiety caused by THC.

Terpenoid profiles may vary considerably from strain to strain. Patients who abandon a strain for one with a higher THC and/or CBD content may not experience greater relief if the terpenoid profile differs significantly. The nose knows best: choose the cannabis strain that you think smells best.

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