In our last post, we talked about the benefits of cannabinoids. They’re medical marijuana’s active ingredient — the stuff that makes the medicine work.
But cannabinoids aren’t the only beneficial chemical compounds inside the cannabis plant. There’s another class of compounds that also contribute to marijuana’s healing properties. These compounds may not be as popular as cannabinoids; however, they’re still important.
They’re called terpenes.
If cannabinoids are the superheroes, then the terpenes are the sidekicks (Batman’s pretty great, but every once in a while, he gets into situations where he needs Robin to back him up).
In this post, we’ll be tackling the benefits of terpenes. We’ll also list 5 basic terpenes that you should be familiar with. Once you know these terpenes, you’ll then be able to find more effective and powerful medical marijuana products.
Terpenes: A Brief Introduction
Many plant species, including marijuana, produce terpenes as part of their overall survival strategy.
Terpenes give various plants their specific odors and flavors. Citrus fruits, herbs and many other plants all smell and taste the way they do because of terpenes. Oranges, mangoes, ginger, eucalyptus, pine needles – you name it.
Therefore, if you just can’t get enough of the smell and flavor of your favorite marijuana strain, whether it’s Cheese, Bubba Kush or White Widow, you probably have terpenes to thank for that.
But terpenes do more than just decide the flavor profile of medical marijuana strains. They are also chock full of medical benefits.
Terpenes and “the Entourage Effect”
Cannabinoids and terpenes are both produced in the trichomes of the marijuana plant. When consumed, they work together — a phenomenon known as “the entourage effect.”
Like cannabinoids, terpenes interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system. Furthermore, some terpenes are able to bind to the same brain receptors as cannabinoids.
Some terpenes make it easier for cannabinoids to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Consequently, the medicine works more quickly than if the terpene were absent.
Terpenes also affect your brain’s production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. This is why certain marijuana strains have different effects on the quality of your high and your overall mood.
Sativas, Indicas and Terpenes
If you use medical marijuana on a regular basis, then you’re probably familiar with the two main types of marijuana: sativas and indicas.
Sativas give you a burst of energy, creativity and focus — what many call a “cerebral high.” They’re ideal for daytime usage because they enhance your mood and get you revved up and ready to get things done. Definitely not a falling-asleep-on-the-couch type of marijuana.
Indicas are on the other end of the spectrum because their flowers produce a more sedative, calming effect. They’re great for deep pain relief, insomnia and anxiety. But they’re definitely not something you want to use if you’re about to run errands.
So what makes sativas and indicas act so differently?
Yep, you guessed it: terpenes.
We’re talking specifically about the terpene known as myrcene. Studies have shown that when cannabis contains less than .04% myrcene, it produces sativa-like effects. However, when the myrcene count clocks in at higher than .04%, that’s when indica’s “couchlock” sets in.
Whether you’re thinking about using a sativa or an indica, find out what percentage of myrcene is in the product. You’ll get a good indication of how powerful the effects will be.
5 Terpenes You Should Know About
Now let’s examine the benefits of terpenes by profiling these 5 terpenes that might show up in your medical marijuana products. Like we said earlier, if you know the terpene profile of a marijuana strain, then you can make a more informed decision about what type of marijuana is best for you.
Flavor profile: Earthy, musky, some citrus flavors
Found in: Citrus fruits, mangos, eucalyptus, lemongrass
- Pain relief
- Speeds up the effects of cannabinoids
Flavor Profile: Citrusy, fruity
Found In: Citrus fruits, pine needles, rosemary, juniper and peppermint
- Anti-depressant/mood enhancer
Flavor profile: Sweet, flowery
Found in: Lavender
Flavor profile: wood, peppery, spicey,
Found in: hops, black pepper, clove
- Anti-inflammatory (particularly arthritis pain)
- Antiproliferative (useful for chemotherapy treatments)
Flavor profile: hoppy (as in “beer hops,” not like the rabbit).
Found in: hops, coriander
- Appetite suppressant
Flavor profile: sweet, piney (no surprise here)
Found in: Pine needles (again, no surprise here), sage, rosemary
- Improves memory retention
- Improves alertness
- Bronchodilator (may be useful for treating asthma)
How to Get the Most Out of the Benefits of Terpenes
Ask your dispensary staff to show you a lab analysis that includes the terpene profile for the strain you’re interested in. If you tell the staff member what your illness is, then he or she should probably be able to recommend the strain/product with the right terpenes for you.
Mangoes have been long known to increase the rapidity of THC’s effects because it contains terpenes. There are other terpene-containing foods and herbs that, when combined with medical marijuana use, could enhance the power of your medicine. However, you should always consult with your doctor before combining medical marijuana with other herbal medicines or enhancing agents.
Now that you know how awesome they are, are you ready to reap the benefits of terpenes AND cannabinoids? Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Then we can help you get your Florida medical marijuana card and some much-needed relief!