Terpenes & Cannabinoids

A Connoisseur’s Guide to Terpenes and Cannabinoids

Just like fine wine, every cannabis strain has its own unique flavor and aroma profiles. While vino gets its tasting notes from aroma compounds known as stereoisomers that are released during fermentation, cannabis relies on terpenes. Packed with goodness, these aromatic compounds are naturally occurring in a wide range of plants, including lavender, pine, and citrus trees. That said, they’re commonly associated with cannabis thanks to the high concentrations and rich, earthy aroma that goes hand-in-hand with a tasty strain. 

Of course, cannabis is also loved for its ability to get you sky high, or at least partway there. This is where cannabinoids come in. More than 100 of these naturally occurring psychoactive compounds have been identified, with each one interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system in different ways. 

Here’s where things get interesting. When it comes to chemical structure, terpenes and cannabinoids are surprisingly similar. Both are secreted from the resin glands of the cannabis plant, which are found on the leaves and flowers. While terpenes are generally associated with aroma and flavor profiles and cannabinoids are all about the psychoactive effects, the pair work together to amplify the experience offered by a particular strain. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the science behind cannabinoids and terpenes, this article is for you. Read on as we take a closer look at terpenes, cannabinoids, and how the pair work synergistically to deliver a full spectrum of cannabis experiences. 

Cannabinoids: 101

Produced by both the hemp and cannabis plants, cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with receptors in the human endocannabinoid system. These interactions produce a range of therapeutic effects, with results varying depending on the type of cannabinoid being enjoyed. 

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most widely recognized cannabinoid in the industry, known for its psychoactive properties and ability to induce a euphoric high. THC acts quickly, binding with CB1 receptors and getting you high. While THC can be intense, alternatives like Cannabidiol (CBD) offer a much more subtle experience. This cannabinoid offers a myriad of non-intoxicating benefits, as well as powerful anti-inflammatory properties. THC and CBD are just two of more than 100 cannabinoids currently identified. 

Terpenes: 101

Now we know more about cannabinoids, let’s move onto terpenes. These naturally occurring chemical compounds are what give the cannabis plant its unique scent and flavor profiles. Every strain has its own set of terpenes, meaning enjoying cannabis is something of an art for seasoned consumers. More than 100 terpenes are currently identified and there are still more to discover, meaning the flavor profiles of cannabis strains are incredibly diverse. With experience and a good understanding of your palate, you should be able to pick out different terpenes in your strains.  

What many people don’t know is that terpenes can also alter the highs you’ll experience with cannabis. Some terpenes can modify the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids like THC, increasing or decreasing the intensity of your high. Like essential oils, terpenes can also affect the mood and physiology. For example, strains rich in a terpene called limonene are zesty and uplifting, while strains containing linalool can be relaxing and therapeutic. No surprises here, as linalool is not only found in certain cannabis strains but also in the lavender plant. 

If you’ve ever enjoyed Bubba Kush, you’ll be familiar with the earthy and spicy flavor profile bought on by a potent terpene called Myrcene. As well as giving Bubba Kush its unique flavor and aroma profile, Myrcene promotes faster chemical flow between the blood-brain barrier. This enhances the therapeutic effects of Bubba Kush cannabinoids and makes the strain great for treating pain and insomnia. Hawaiian Haze is another strain rich in Myrcene, alongside other dominant terpenes like Caryophyllene and Pinene. Reminiscent of cracked pepper, Caryophyllene has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, while works to increase energy and alertness. 

The relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes

While cannabinoids and terpenes play very different roles, they share a special relationship when it comes to the overall cannabis experience. Both work together to contribute to the unique flavor and high of a cannabis strain, a concept known as the entourage effect. 

Whether you’re popping a gummy, puffing a vape, or lighting up a joint, your body absorbs hundreds of different botanical compounds when you enjoy cannabis products. Each one offers its own unique benefits, which can be enhanced and altered as the different compounds interact. This synergistic relationship is fascinating for cannabis connoisseurs and makes botanicals an incredibly complex and multifaceted substance. 

Exploring the entourage effect

The entourage effect hasn’t escaped the attention of scientific researchers, with a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology exploring how interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes can be used to treat pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, addiction, and even cancer. 

“Terpenoids are quite potent, and affect animal and even human behavior… They display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts,” reads the abstract. “Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy, if proven, increases the likelihood that an extensive pipeline of new therapeutic products is possible from this venerable plant.”

Enhancing terpenes with organic farming 

Cannabis is a plant which means farming and cultivation practices can have a huge impact on the finished product. To put it into perspective, consider the difference between an organic tomato and a pesticide-soaked counterpart. Chances are, the organic version is lusciously juicy and packed with flavor, while the pesticide version will be inferior. The same concept applies to cannabis. The better the production process, the tastier and more potent the strain. 

At Cannessentials, we’re all about products that allow the unique cannabinoids and terpenes of botanicals to shine. That’s why we source only the finest quality hemp and CBD products grown in Southern Oregon. Hand-trimmed and sustainably cultivated, you can literally taste and feel the difference. 

Experimenting with different cannabinoid and terpene combinations is all part of the fun, with experienced connoisseurs cherry picking their strains based on terpene and cannabinoid content. If you need help, we’re always here to chat, so don’t hesitate to get in touch and track down your perfect strain. 

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