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Terpenes: 101

ReStart CBD Terpene Profile - Austin TX
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What are terpenes?

Terpenes are well known for their flavor and aromatics, but they also provide therapeutic benefits.

You may have heard of terpenes, the chemical that gives cannabis its different types of scents. Terpenes are found in the essential oils of plants and secreted in differing concentrations in different cannabis strains alongside cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Science shows us that terpenes contain compounds that can affect many systems in the body to boost immunity, relieve pain as well as produce a long list of other positive healthful effects

ReStart CBD Terpene Profile - Austin TX

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds in cannabis that give the plant it’s unique smell, and unique benefits.

They give the different CBD strains their unique flavor profiles. The presence of these terpenes along with secondary cannabinoids like THC, CBDa, CBG, CBN, and others activate a therapeutic phenomenon known a the “entourage effect.”

According to research, terpenes play an important role in enhancing the properties of the cannabis plant. Some have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that work in synergy with cannabinoids such a CBD and THC, producing better effects that couldn’t be experienced if each terpene worked in isolation.

They give the different CBD strains their unque flavor profiles, but research shows thats not all they can do.

  • Most terpenes have anti-microbial properties, meaning that they have properties that can combat potentialloy harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Many terpenes, including Beta-Caryophyllene, have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving, or analgesic properties.
  • Alone, these terpenes have been shown to have powerful therapeutic effects, but within CBD hemp flower, these properties synergize with (CBD)cannabidiol’s natural pain-relieving effects.
  • Terpenes in CBD hemp flower typically exhibit sedative or calming effects as with the terpene Myrcene.
  • Or uplifting and stimulating effects, as with the terpene Limonene.
  • Many of the terpenes in CBD hemp flower also have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. For example, the Linalool found in CBD hemp flower, and also in herbs like Lavender and basil, exhibit near instantaneous relaxing effects that can help alleviate stress-related symptoms of anxiety.

In cannabis, terpenes are made in the trichomes of the plant. Trichomes are the shiny, sticky, mushroom-shaped crystals that cover the leaves and buds. Trichomes on cannabis act as a defense mechanism in nature, protecting the plant from insects and animals through the production of fragrant terpenes that repel these dangers.

Cannabis is an incredibly diverse plant regarding its biological makeup and potential benefits — and terpenes – are no exception.

Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and every strain produces a unique terpene type and composition.  

The most fascinating characteristic of the terpenes is their ability to interact synergistically with other compounds like cannabinoids, specifically cannabidiol – CBD.

RESTART CBD Common Terpenes
PHOTO: LEAFLY

For the most part, terpenes can be broken down into four categories:

  • sour
  • sweet
  • spicy
  • bitter

Each category further breaks down into more specific smells. These specific smells consist with certain strains, which in turn correlate to the effects of that plant.

How Terpenes Affect your Mood

A sour-smelling flower may have a strong lemon scent to it. Lemon scented strains are often correlated with strains like super lemon haze; these are zesty sativas that give you a boost of energy and euphoria. 

Some terpenes also bind to these receptor sites and affect their chemical
output. Others can modify how much of each compound CBD and THC
passes through the blood-brain barrier. Their hand of influence is called the “entourage effect” and even reaches to neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin by altering their rate of production and destruction, their movement, and availability of receptors.

The effects these mechanisms produce vary from terpene to terpene; some are especially successful in relieving stress, while others promote focus and acuity.

Common Terpenes in Hemp Flower:

Terpenes all have different gifts and effects. They can affect our mood, our stress response, and our mindset.

While a sativa and indica distinction can be a general guide in choosing a product for your desired effects, their differences primarily pertain to the physical appearance of the plant.

As biochemical components of the plant, terpenes are a more reliable source when picking the right strain for your needs.

Whereas THC or CBD typically makes up 10-30% of a flower’s dry weight, terpenes occurs in trace amounts, generally less than 2%.

Top naturally occurring terpenes in CBD Hemp.

Limonene

Limonene (LYM-o-neen) LM (Citrus) –  Uplifts mood, relieves stress and anxiety by increasing our serotonin levels, the neurotransmitter also known as the “happy chemical.” It will yield a more energetic experience. Digestive issues may be improved through limonene’s potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects.

Limonene: Known to be an antifungal agent, and it may also boost mood and reduce inflammation. It’s a crucial terpene in CBD because it can increase the absorption rate of other terpenes.

Limonene is not only characteristic of citrus-smelling cannabis but it’s also the exact terpene found in lemons and other citrus fruit rinds, like oranges and limes, giving them that fruity smell.It’s a natural insecticide on the cannabis plant and can even assist in treating toenail fungus in humans. Limonene is easily absorbed through inhalation and even improves absorption of other terpenes through the skin and body tissue, like mucous membranes and the digestive tract. 

More on Limonene’s Therapeutic Effects

Pinene

Pinene: Used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia for it’s therapeutic benefits as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a bronchodilator.

Pinene actually comes in two types: alpha, which smells like pine needles and is the most commonly found terpene in nature, and beta, which smells like rosemary, basil, dill, or parsley. Pinene is also found in conifer trees, turpentine and citrus peels. Pinene is a powerful bronchodilator, which helps improve airflow to lungs, making it a good option for those struggling with asthma. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and local antiseptic and has been used by cultures around the world for its healing properties for thousands of years. Pinene easily crosses the blood-brain barrier improving memory and alertness. It’s even said that pinene counters memory loss associated with THC.

Myrcene

The myrcene terpene is one of the most common terpenes associated with cannabis. It has a dank, earthy, and herbal scent – just like cannabis. Despite being the smallest terpene, myrcene can have powerful effects on the body and is known to produce a tiring effect by making you sleepy. As far as potential medical uses, myrcene has been indicated to be an antibacterial compound that may relieve pain.

Commonly found in mangoes, thyme, hops and lemongrass, myrcene is said to be one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis. Myrcene is important because its presence determines whether a strain is indica or sativa. According to Steep Hill Labs, if a plant has more than 0.5% myrcene, it will produce indica-like effects. Anything less than 0.5% myrcene produces sativa-like effects. Myrcene is also known for its antibiotic, analgesic, and anti-mutagenic properties.

Linalool

Along with limonene and myrcene, linalool is a fairly well-studied cannabis terpene, even though few strains—mainly indicas—contain it in very high amounts. Linalool adds a light floral scent and spicy taste to marijuana when smoked or added to edibles, but its healing effects are far more significant, both on their own and in combination with other marijuana compounds.

Linalool is commonly found in lavender and its aroma is light and floral. Widely known for the ability to reduce stress, linalool is used as an anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and sedative. Linalool is also used to relieve seizure symptoms and provide relief to those suffering from Linalool also makes the immune system more resilient to the destructive effects of stress.   It’s used as a sleep aid and an anti-anxiety ingredient in aromatherapy.

Humulene

May act as an appetite suppressant and an anti-inflammatory.

Caryophyllene

Unique because it may be able to interact with the endocannabinoid system, just like cannabinoids. Furthermore, it may act as an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory.

Future of Cannabis

You may start hearing companies discuss their products based on feelings. Some brands advertise solely based on their intended effects. Buying a vape pen labeled “relax” or “energy” is a game changer.  Sativa’s are not created equal.  One sativa may provide focus while another sativa may offer higher levels of energy. Varied terpene content within sativa strains will make certain products better for certain effects, and the use of mood-based branding will provide solutions for different types of customers.

AND because growing conditions and plant genetics determine terpene quality and content, growers are now able to make adjustments to the “how” and “what” they grow, in order to meet consumer demand. This is a much faster and transparent process than waiting for a new pharmaceutical drug to hit the market.

Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrids

Picking between the different strains, indica vs sativa enables us to precisely choose how we are going to feel.  But most plant profiles today are a hybrid.  Over the years, breeders have selected and crossed different sorts of cultivars, and have been quite successful in creating strains with characteristics having “the best of both worlds.

Terpenes and Vaporizing

Because terpenes have different molecular structures, their boiling points vary. The temperature at which you vaporize becomes important for understanding what produces your desired effects.

  • Some compounds require higher boiling points to turn into vapor, while others are ineffective at high temperatures.
  • The same goes for cannabinoids.
  • For example, THC’s boiling point is 315 F and Linalool’s boiling point is 388 F. There is a multitude of vaporizers on the market and temperature customization is becoming increasingly popular. Smoking anything isn’t ideal for your body — combustion creates smoke which contains by-products that are harsh on your lungs. Vaporizing is more gentle on the body, and more of the vapor content is made of the cannabinoids and terpenes that you seek.

Many devices now let you change the temperature directly on the device, providing cannabis consumers with options to consume at different temperatures. Cannabinoids begin to vaporize at 285 F and combustion begins at 392 F. Playing with different temperatures will help you find your sweet spot.

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