Q & A with Dr. Mike: Terpenes?


Q: What are these terpenes I have been hearing about?
A: Terpenes are the flavor compounds of cannabis. They are what give each strain of cannabis its distinct smell and taste. They also are believed to add different effects to cannabis known as the “entourage effect”.

Q: What are the most common terpenes?
A: The most commonly found terpenes in cannabis are myrcene, limonene, pinene, caryophyllene and linalool.

Q: Why does limonene sound like lemon and pinene sound like pine?
A: Well simply put limonene is what gives lemons their smell and pinene is what gives pine trees their smell. Terpenes are found in many other plants, myrcene is present in mangoes and linalool is found in lavender.

Q: What are the effects of terpenes?
A: Each terpene is believed to contribute its own unique attribute to the cannabis experience.

Below are some of the reported effects of the most common terpenes. Although most evidence is anecdotal and research needs to be done before terpenes medicinal value is confirmed.

Myrcene: sedating, relaxing, THC amplifying, pain relief, anti-inflammatory

Limonene: improved mood/euphoria, relaxing, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety

Pinene: improved memory, alertness, anti-inflammatory

Caryophyllene: muscle spasms, pain relief, anti-inflammatory,

Linalool: sedating, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, pain relief, stress relief.

Q: Why is myrcene important?
A: Myrcene is the only terpene proven to increase the ability of THC to reach the brain, amplifying the effects. Depending on how much is found in a plant will determine if the cannabis has indica or sativa effects..

Q: Are terpenes in Edibles?
A: This ultimately depends the concentrate used to make the edible. For example an edible infused with a concentrate made from fresh buds may contain a ton of terpenes. Alternatively, a concentrate made from old dried out bud that was aggressively purged and heated may not have any. The only way to know for sure is to have the edibles terpene content lab tested.

Q: Do they affect you differently when smoked or ingested?
A: This is a great question. I have not seen any scientific studies yet. However, it is likely that when you are smoking you are getting a much larger dose of terpenes directly into your bloodstream compared to edibles that must be digested and may have lower terpene content to begin with. This is why I believe specific strain effects are much more noticeable when smoking and vaping compared to edibles.

Q: What is the difference between cannabis derived and all natural terpenes?
A: Well, a molecule of limonene from cannabis is the same as a molecule of limonene from a lemon. But, cannabis has a complex terpene profile with over 200 different possible terpenes found at minute concentrations. This makes it difficult to artificially create a perfect match…although some labs are getting very close.

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