While the word terpene has become relatively synonymous with cannabis across our culture today, nature has known about them for a very long time. As it so happens, terpenes are incredibly common molecules present in a wide variety of plants, fruits, vegetables, and spices.
Terpenes give plants their signature smells, from the sharp scent of lemon to the sweet aroma of lavender, these little wonders give us a complete experience of what nature has to offer. Science has discovered more than 20,000 terpenes that plants naturally produce, with estimates that the actual number could be much higher at close to 55,000 individual terpenes and terpenoids. So yeah, terpenes are pretty common.
Where the Wild Terpenes Are
Before we get into the importance of terpenes in cannabis, let’s find out how these commonly important compounds affect our daily life. Whether you’re a cannabis user or not, terpenes impact your experiences with food, flowers, and even manufactured products. Here are a few examples of where you encounter terpenes in everyday life.
Citrus Fruits are Terpene Rich
Sure the vitamin C is good for you, a little extra never hurt anyone. One of the tricks that citrus has up its peel is the richness in Limonene. This terpene helps citrus fruits have that signature scent, a little sharp and a little sweet, you wouldn’t even have to see it to know whatever you’re smelling is a citrus fruit of some kind. Aside from the delicious flavor and extra vitamins, Limonene has been shown to potentially reduce indigestion, reduce skin inflammation, and may lower anxiety.
Terpenes are Spicy
Because of their natural role in both scent and taste, it shouldn’t be a surprise that terpenes are also found in a number of spices that we’ve all come to love in all kinds of recipes. Basile, rosemary, cinnamon, black pepper, oregano, and more are loaded with beta-caryophyllene which help to add unique flavors and smells to the foods we eat every day. Terpenes have also been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and even mood-elevating properties. Guess that’s why we love food so much.
Beer with a Side of Terpenes
Yes, beer has terpenes. More specifically, the hops used to make beer are high compounds such as myrcene, alpha-caryophyllene, and caryophyllene. Hops naturally produce essential oils which in turn also produce terpenes. During a normal brewing process, you won’t be getting a high amount of these compounds, because they aren’t soluble in water. However, some brewers use a dry-hopping process that is specifically designed to produce a high terpene content in the final, tasty product.
The Wonders of Cannabis Derived Terpenes
Previously, you’ve seen our list of terpenes and effects, a short walk-through of how they affect both your cannabis experience and some of the potential benefits they play in the medicinal applications of cannabis. Cannabis terpenes provide us with that beautifully unmistakable smell that both cannabis aficionados and officers of the law always seem to be on the lookout for. Aside from giving us that distinct aroma, how else do terpenes affect how we experience cannabis?
How Terpenes Give Us the Full Experience
We all know that THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) get a lot of attention when it comes to the experience of cannabis. These primary cannabinoids drive the feeling of euphoria associated with “getting high”. Terpenes are responsible for how we experience cannabis from our senses, both in taste and smell, as well as helping to steer how the high plays out. Whether you’re incredibly relaxed, energized, or something else entirely, terpenes play a role in how you feel.
The Entourage Effect in Action
When cannabinoids and terpenes are working hand in hand to give you the best experience possible, there’s a term for that. You’ve probably heard of “The Entourage Effect”, the term was first used by Dr. Shimon Ben-Shabat as a way to describe how terpenes and cannabinoids interact with the cannabinoid receptors in our nervous system to produce often different and intense effects than one or the other would all by itself. These two primary compounds in cannabis, working together, give us the most potent experience possible.
Why Cannabis Enthusiasts Need Terpenes
Without the terpene and terpenoid content in cannabis, the experience would be quite different. The smell, the taste, and even the different strains of cannabis wouldn’t be possible without diverse terpene content. When you sniff the cannabis flower and inhale what you know to be the goodness to come, you have terpenes to thank for that experience. When cannabinoids and terpenoids are working closely together during your high, it can make each one unique. So thank you terpenes, thank you very much!
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