Have you ever wondered how terpenes interact with our bodies and enhance our experience with cannabis products? Terpenes are an incredibly important component of cannabis that can provide a range of therapeutic benefits.
For years, we’ve known that terpenes can influence our experience of cannabis. But now, science is beginning to uncover how terpenes can also affect our bodies. Here’s what you need to know about how terpenes can influence us. In this blog post, we’ll examine what terpenes are, their different properties, how they work inside our bodies, and how to use them effectively.
What are Terpenes?
Let’s start by taking a look at what terpenes are and how they are used in cannabis. Terpenes are organic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis. They are composed of five carbon atoms for every eight hydrogen atoms and are hydrocarbons made up of isoprene molecules. Terpenes can be used to attract pollinators, repel predators, and protect plants from invading germs, parasites, and fungi. They also give plants their unique smells and tastes and are used in perfumes, essential oils, and food additives.
Cannabis Terpene Properties
The five most common terpenes found in cannabis are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Limonene, Linalool, and Pinene. Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis and is also present in lemongrass, bay leaves, parsley, cardamom, thyme, and basil. Caryophyllene produces the spicy scent of black pepper and is also found in cloves, hops, and rosemary. Humulene has anti-inflammatory properties and is found in cannabis, sage, and ginseng. Alpha-Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature, found in cannabis, pine trees, and Spanish sage. It has anxiety-reducing properties. Linalool is primarily found in lavender and has sedative, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Limonene may have antidepressant effects and may increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in mice.
The terpene composition of cannabis can change its smell and alter its effects. Though terpenes themselves cannot get a person high, they can slightly modify the effects of cannabinoids like CBD and THC when combined. The average terpene level in cannabis strains ranges between 1% and 5%.
How do Terpenes Work?
Now that we’ve discussed what terpenes are let’s delve into how they work inside our bodies. Terpenes interact with specific brain receptors to produce various effects such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, sedative, and focus-enhancing properties. To experience these effects, a person must smoke or vape cannabis, as terpenes are destroyed in the digestive system.
When terpenes enter the body, they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce their effects. The ECS is a network of receptors located throughout the body that helps regulate various physiological processes such as mood, appetite, and pain perception. Terpenes bind to these endocannabinoid receptors and activate them in different ways depending on the type of terpene.
Terpenes Can Alter Neurotransmitters
Terpenes have also been found to alter the rate of production and destruction, movement, and availability of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Different terpene profiles can produce different effects as well. For instance, myrcene is known to induce sleep, while limonene is believed to elevate mood. Caryophyllene has gastro-protective properties.
Terpenes Enhance the Benefits of Cannabinoids
Terpenes in cannabis can change its effects from make us sleepy to making us want to laugh. Research suggests that terpenes offer additional medical value as they mediate our body’s interaction with therapeutic cannabinoids.
Cannabis analysis labs now test terpene content so consumers can get an idea of what effects a strain might produce. Whole-plant extracts are often used to take advantage of the entourage effect – a phenomenon identified by Dr. Mechoulam in 1998 which states that all the components of cannabis work together to produce better and longer-lasting therapeutic benefits.
Ways to Use Terpenes
When it comes to using terpenes, there are a few different ways to go about it. Vaporization is one of the most effective ways to preserve the original flavor and aroma of cannabis. In sublingual applications, the ideal terpene concentration is 0.01% to 2%. To use terpenes in water-based products, they need to be infused with a food-grade emulsifier. In cannabis topicals, terpenes can improve the absorption of cannabinoids through the skin and enhance the entourage effect. Safe concentrations of terpenes in topicals that remain on the skin range from 0.1% to 10% and 10% to 24% in products that are usually washed off.
When it comes to the effects of terpenes on the human body, there is a lot of research that has been done in recent years. Terpenes are known to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-anxiety properties. They can also help with sleep, mood regulation, and stress relief. Some terpenes have even been found to reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
Potential Risks & Reactions
It’s important to note that some variants of terpenes may be able to help suppress appetite and provide energy, while others may lead to allergic reactions or complications during pregnancy in women. Consumption of this compound can affect people physically, psychologically, and medically. The scent of a particular terpene can elicit different reactions from different people depending on how it is associated with their past experiences or current emotions. When introducing terpenes into products, it’s important to pay attention to safety guidelines, as over- or under-application can lead to adverse reactions or even toxicity.
Understanding how terpenes interact with our bodies can help us get the most out of our cannabis products. By understanding the different properties of terpenes and how to use them effectively, we can take advantage of the potential therapeutic benefits they offer.