Cannabis is a complex plant that contains various compounds, including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. While cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are the most well-known components of cannabis, terpenes are gaining more attention due to their unique and diverse effects on the human body.
Terpenes have gained increasing attention from both recreational and medicinal cannabis users in recent years as more research has been conducted on their potential benefits. They have been found to have a wide range of effects on the human body, including both recreational and medicinal benefits.
In this article, we will explore what cannabis terpenes are and what they do, including their scientific compositions, how they are produced and harvested, and their effects on both recreational and medicinal cannabis users.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are a diverse class of organic compounds found in a variety of plants, including cannabis. They are responsible for the distinctive aromas and flavors of different strains of cannabis and are produced in the same glands as cannabinoids. There are over 200 different terpenes found in cannabis, and each strain has a unique combination of terpenes that contribute to its overall effects.
Terpenes are derived from isoprene units, organic compounds in many plants. The isoprene units are combined in different ways to create various terpenes, each with its own distinct chemical structure and properties. Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis include myrcene, limonene, pinene, and caryophyllene.
How Are Terpenes Produced and Harvested?
Terpenes are produced in the same glands as cannabinoids, called trichomes, which are small, mushroom-shaped structures that cover the surface of cannabis buds and leaves. Trichomes are most abundant in the flowers of female cannabis plants, which are typically harvested for their potent buds. When cannabis plants are exposed to stressors such as intense sunlight or pests, they may produce higher levels of terpenes as a defense mechanism.
Terpenes are extracted from cannabis using various methods, including steam distillation, solvent extraction, and CO2 extraction. Steam distillation involves heating the cannabis plant material to release the terpenes, which are then collected in a separate container. Solvent extraction involves using a solvent such as ethanol or butane to extract the terpenes, which are then separated from the solvent using a vacuum or other methods. CO2 extraction involves using pressurized carbon dioxide to extract the terpenes, which are then separated from the CO2, much like solvents, using a vacuum or other method.
What Are the Effects of Terpenes?
Terpenes have a wide range of effects on the human body, including recreational and medicinal benefits. Some terpenes are known for their calming and relaxing effects, while others are known for their energizing and uplifting effects. Terpenes can also enhance the effects of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, by modulating their interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Myrcene, for example, is a terpene found in many strains of cannabis and is known for its sedative effects. It is also believed to enhance the effects of THC by helping it cross the blood-brain barrier more easily. Limonene, another common terpene, is known for its energizing effects and is commonly used to treat depression and anxiety. Pinene, a terpene found in pine needles and many strains of cannabis, is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and is commonly used to treat asthma and other respiratory conditions. Caryophyllene, a terpene found in black pepper and many strains of cannabis, is known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects and is commonly used to treat chronic pain conditions.
Terpenes play a significant role in the recreational use of cannabis. Different combinations of terpenes can create different flavors and aromas in the plant, which users can enjoy for their sensory experiences. In addition to their flavors and aromas, terpenes can also contribute to the overall effects of cannabis strains. As mentioned, strains that contain high levels of myrcene terpenes are known to have sedative effects and can promote relaxation. In contrast, strains that contain high levels of limonene terpenes are known to have energizing effects and can promote focus and creativity. Combining different terpenes in a strain can create a unique and complex set of effects, enhancing users’ recreational experience.
Overall, the presence of terpenes in cannabis can contribute to the sensory and recreational experiences of users. Their unique flavors and aromas can add to the enjoyment of using cannabis, while their effects can contribute to the desired recreational effects. As the science of cannabis continues to develop, further research into the effects of terpenes may reveal even more benefits and ways to enhance the recreational use of this popular plant.