What Are Terpenes in Cannabis?
If you go into a medical marijuana dispensary, you will often see over 20 different kinds of product. The names of these products will sound like an alternative music rock band name, such as Purple Haze, Northern Lights, OG Kush, Bubba Kush, White Widow, or Sour Diesel.
There are 2 general strains of marijuana called indica and sativa. Most finished products these days are combination's of strains. Sativas generally have sweet, floral aromas and are said to be inspirational and energizing. They can be helpful in separating the mind from pain.
Indica blends, on the other hand, have a dry and skunk like odor. They are relaxing, sedating, and relieve stress and pain. Patients often say they work well for chronic pain in conjunction with pain medications.
People often think that the various blends work differently because of the varying ratios of cannabinoids in them. Cannabinoids are the mind altering components of marijuana, and THC is the most well known one. Interestingly, research shows that THC is the most predominant cannabinoid by far in all varieties.
Terpenes are the molecules for odor that are found in the essential oils of plants. These essential oils are used in aromatherapy because they have been found to modulate brain function and mood. Researchers are now giving credence to the belief that terpenes affect how marijuana works on the body. Assuming this is true, this means knowing what a variety smells like can predict how it will act on the body.
The most common terpene found in marijuana is Myrcene. It's earthy, fruity, citrus, and mango in quality. This terpene is a strong antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and pain reliever. It is thought to work in combination with THC, decreasing depression, elevating mood, and allowing more THC to get into the brain.
Another terpene, Beta-caryophyllene, smells peppery. It maintains pain relief qualities, but lacks a mental effect. So it is considered non-psychoactive. Pinene is another terpene that is a major component of turpentine. It has a piney odor and has been shown to increase focus, self-satisfaction, and memory. Terpenol smells floral with hints of orange blossom. It has a significant sedative effect and is great for sleep problems.
There are other terpenes that help with improving memory, which is one thing that is typically thought to be adversely affected with existing marijuana strains. One of these is Pulgone, which slows the destruction of memory transfer proteins. It helps keep people alert.
For the most part, patients looking for help sleeping should look for a floral sweet variety of marijuana with Linalool in it. As more research is performed, the different varieties of terpene and its effects on the body will hopefully become more apparent. This will help patients more effectively receiving treatment for their disease.