Imagine you’re at a party. Someone sparks up a joint or rips their wax pen. Suddenly, all the stoners in the room begin to resemble Meerkats – their heads poking out from the crowd while they sniff the unmistakable scent of weed. Turns out those “weed pheromones” have a name; terpenes or terps, even terpenoids. If you’ve ever wondered why your wax pen smells like a can of pine sol, it’s because of the terpenes. Terps are tiny compounds that give specific physical and biological characteristics to cannabis. Refreshing citrusy and pine smells are just a few examples!
You can find a multitude of terps in the building blocks of plants. Each plant has a unique combination of terps, flavonoids, and cannabinoids like THC and CBD and other compounds. Essentially, the effects of these compounds coming together within the cannabis flower itself can have all sorts of diverse results for the consumer – mood enhancement, relaxation, better sleep, anti-inflammation, anti-nausea and many more. Scientists are beginning to look deeper into this “entourage effect” of various molecule types working together within the human endocannabinoid system.
Some of the terpenes most commonly found amongst cannabis plants are Myrcene, Limonene and Linalool. Linalool and Myrcene are most likely responsible for that almost indistinguishable “pot” smell – that earthy, woody, sweet citrus smell. Just like the lavender plant it’s found in, Linalool is known to aid in relaxation. Myrcene is arguably the most commonly found terp in nature; in some strains, Myrcene can dominate over 60% of the terpene profile. It can help with anxiety and has anti-inflammatory properties. Limonene is almost exactly what it sounds like – you guessed it – lemons. Along with being associated with mental alertness, this terp is mostly known for it’s bright lemony aroma and activity against skin bacteria – these guys are also common in cosmetics!
We have only scratched the surface of understanding the therapeutic (or medical) potential of cannabis. Norms and policies are shifting – toward exploration, towards giving people options. Research on terpenes is growing and the cannabis world is advancing towards better understanding how they work with cannabinoids in the body. Hopefully, we can harness the capabilities of these little compounds and that can lead to more targeted medicinal use and treatment options. Maybe, just maybe, the prescription pad of the future will read; Pineapple Express or Northern Lights.
Reach out to the author! Victoria@nfuzed.com