Cannabinoids & Terpenes – How Do They Affect Us?

Cannabinoids & Terpenes - How Do They Affect Us?
Cannabinoids & Terpenoids: The Future of Cannabis Connoisseurship

If you’re unfamiliar with cannabinoids or terpenoids, it’s time to learn. Each strain can be defined by a specific chemical makeup, i.e.., its combination of cannabinoids and terpenoids. The exact relationship between cannabinoids and terpenoids is uncertain, but the ineffectiveness of single cannabinoid extractions (e.g.., Marinol THC capsules) prove the significance of the synergistic effects of both compounds – often referred to as “the entourage effect.” Whether terpenes increase bioaccessibility of cannabinoids or vice versa, terpenes have been connected to the flavor and aroma of the plant whereas cannabinoids are well-known to influence effects.

So what exactly are terpenes?

Terpenes are volatile aromatic molecules that evaporate easily and readily announce themselves to the nose. Various researchers have emphasized the pharmacological importance of terpenes, or terpenoids, which form the basis of aromatherapy, a popular holistic healing modality. Marijuana’s compelling fragrance and particular psychoactive flavor are determined by the predominate terpenes in a strain.

Around 200 terpenes have been found in cannabis, but only a few of these odiferous oily substances appear in amounts substantial enough to be noteworthy, or nose worthy, as it were. Among them are monoterpenes, diterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, which are characterized by the number of repeating units of a 5-carbon molecule called isoprene, the structural hallmark of all terpenoid compounds. The terpenes in marijuana have given the plant an enduring, evolutionary advantage. Pungent terpenoid oils repel insects and animal grazers; others prevent fungus.

Terpenes, it turns out, are healthy for people as well as plants. A September 2011 report by Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology discussed the wide-ranging therapeutic attributes of terpenoids, which are typically lacking in “CBD-only” products.

What are marijuana terpenes?

More than 100 different terpenes have been detected in marijuana, and there are many more if we consider the different variations of each one. For example, the typical smell of citrus fruits comes from terpenes called limonenes, but these can vary in concentration. The limonenes of a lemon are identical to the limonenes of an orange, but each variety is defined by a different smell, resulting from tiny differences in the proportions or the form of the limonenes that it contains.

Here we list the main terpenes found in Cannabis Sativa and its effects on our health. You will see that percentages can vary widely from one variety to another. Here are the most common cannabis cannabinoids and their benefits:

THC is the most well-known and most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana, THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the main psychoactive effects most people associate with marijuana. THC has analgesic, anti-emetic (reduces vomiting and nausea), anti-proliferative (inhibits cancer cell growth), antioxidant, antispasmodic, anxiolitic (decreases anxiety), appetite stimulant, euphoriant, and neuroprotective (slows damage to the nervous system and brain) effects.

CBD is the main non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. CBD has a wide range of therapeutic uses. Because of its many therapeutic uses and because it is non-psychoactive, it is often recommended for treatment of children, the elderly, and anyone who wants the medicinal benefits of cannabis without the “high.” CBD has analgesic, antibacterial, anti-diabetic (reduces blood sugar), antidepressant, anti-emetic, anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, anti-ischemic (reduces the risk of artery blockage), antipsoriatic (treats psoriasis), anti-proliferative, antipsychotic, antioxidant, antispasmodic, anxiolitc, bone stimulant, immunosuppressive, intestinal anti-prokinetc (reduces small intestine contractions), neuroprotective, and vasorelaxant (reduces vascular tension) effects.

CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that comes from the degradation of THC after an extended period of time due to exposure to oxygen and heat. There is usually very little to no CBN in a fresh plant. CBN has analgesic, anti-epileptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, anti-emetic, anti-proliferative, appetite stimulant, and bone stimulant effects.

CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is believed to block the psychoactive effects of THC. CBG has analgesic, antibacterial, anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, anti-proliferative, bone stimulant, and neurogenic (promotes growth of new brain cells) effects.

CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBC has a wide range of medical uses. CBC has analgesic, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, bone stimulant, anxiolitic, and neurogenic (promotes the growth of new brain cells) effects.

THCA is the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis. THCA is the acidic precursor to THC and converts to Δ9-THC when heated. THCA is non-psychoactive and has many therapeutic uses. THCA is an analgesic, a neuroprotectant has anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, antispasmodic, anti-proliferative, and anti-emetic effects, and has been shown to modulate the immune system.

CBDA is found in elevated levels in specific cannabis strains. Like THCA, CBDA converts to CBD when heated. CBDA is non-psychoactive and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and has also been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, and anti-proliferative.

The benefits of the primary terpenes found in cannabis:

Pinene is the most common naturally occuring terpenoid in nature and is responsible for the pine taste in many popular strains. Pinene is a bronchodilator and has analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-prolifertive, and anti-oxidant effects.

Linalool has a floral scent with spicy overtones and has analgesic, antidepressant, anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-psychotic, anxiolytic, and sedative effects.

Myrcene is the smallest terpene but the most prevalent terpene found in most varieties of cannabis. Myrcene dictates whether a strain will have an indica or sativa effect. Strains high in myrcene will result in a “couch lock” effect while strains with low levels of Myrcene will produce a more energetic high. Myrcene has earthy, fruity notes and analgesic, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, anti-proliferative/ant-mutagenic, antipsychotic, and antispasmodic effects.

Limonene is a dominant terpene in strains that have a pronounced sativa effect. Limonene has a strong citrus odor and flavor and aids in the absorption of other terpenes through the skin and mucous membranes. It has antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anxiolytic, gasto-pesphageal reflux (reduces acid reflux), immunostimulant effects.

Caryophyllene is a spicy terpene. It is the only terpene known to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (CB2). Caryophyllene has analgesic, antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, antioxidant, anxiolitic, analgesic, and neuroprotective effects.

Humulene contributes to the “hoppy” aroma of cannabis. Humulene has analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anorectic (appetite suppressant) effects.

Bisabolol has a light, sweet floral aroma and is known to have antimicrobial, anti-inflamatory, and anti-irritant effects. Bisabolol has also shown to be a pro-apoptotic agent for acute leukemia cells.

Ocimene is used in perfumes for its pleasant odor. In nature this terpene acts as part of the plants defenses and possesses antifungal properties.

Terpinolene has smoky or woody notes. Terpinolene is a sedative and also has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-insomnia, anti-proliferative, and antioxidant effects.

Geraniol has rosy, floral notes. It is an effective mosquito repellent and shows a potential protective effect against neuropathy.

Terpineol smells of lilac, crabapple blossoms and lime blossoms. During tests on mice, their mobility was reduced to 45%. This explains the sedative effect of some marijuana strains. Terpineol is often found in strains that have a high level of pinenes, the aromas of which can hide the smell of terpineol.

Valencene contributes to the citrus odor of cannabis. The effects of Valencene are being researched.

Selina-3, 7 (11)-diene is a more recently discovered terpene whose properties are still being explored. It has been used in various antimicrobial studies in essential oil testing and has shown promise with inhibiting microbial growth.

What Are Cannabinoids?

To understand how CBD affects our bodies, we need to get right to the bottom of cannabinoid science.

To tell you the truth, cannabis is all about cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are responsible for marijuana’s effects on the body — and the reason you get high. They’re also the reason why medical marijuana works to alleviate so many symptom-related ailments.

Because cannabis is mainly used for recreational or medicinal purposes, a little information on cannabinoids can help you make healthier choices for your brain and body.

So what exactly are cannabinoids?

Here’s what Wikipedia has got to say about them:

“Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. Ligands for these receptor proteins include the endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by humans and animals), the phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis and some other plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured artificially). The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the plant. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects.”

Esentially, cannabinoids are simply chemical compounds that cause reactions when they enter the body via the lungs as smoke and vapour or through the stomach as edibles. They can even permeate the skin, as is the case with cannabis topicals. The path via smoking and vaporizing is slightly different than that of cannabis when eaten. The effects of ingested, or eaten, cannabis are typically stronger and last longer because it is processed by the stomach and liver before it enters the blood stream.

What is the difference between cannabinoids?

The major differences between the cannabinoids are determined by the extent to which they are psychologically active. Three classes of cannabinoids, the CBG, CBC and CBD are not known to have such an effect. THC, CBN, CBDL and some other cannabinoids on the other hand are known to be psychologically active to varying degrees.

CBD is probably the most abundant cannabinoid, contributing up to 40% of cannabis resin. Interestingly, CBD may actually have anti-anxiety effects and lessen the psychoactive effects of THC. This means that a plant with a greater percentage of CBD may reduce the intensity of the effects of the THC, which in effect lowers the potency of the plant. Use of a cannabis plant with less CBD has been shown to have an increased psychological impact and result in unwanted effects such as anxiety.

When THC is exposed to air it oxidizes and forms CBN. CBN is only very weakly psychoactive and not unlike CBD interacts with THC to reduce its effects. This is why cannabis that has been left out unused will have increasing amounts of CBN and decreasing amounts of THC and thus lose potency.

The infographic below details different types of cannabinoids and how they affect our bodies and brains.

Infographic of different cannabinoids
Infographic courtesy of www.leafy.com