It seems like essential oils are in everything these days, from natural deodorants to cleaning products incense, and more. Similar aromatic oils are a powerful part of cannabis medicine. Almost everyone has heard of THC, the naturally occurring molecule that delivers the “high” effect of cannabis, but terpenes are the lesser known, naturally occurring oils that are produced by cannabis plants and are responsible for the psychological effects associated with cannabis.

Terpenes are naturally occurring essential oils and the glue that bind cannabinoids (like THC and CBD), to the cannabis plant and cannabinoid receptors (CB receptors) in your body. CB receptors create “stickiness” between the cannabinoid and your receptor, which also dictates the psychological effects a user may experience.  

In many cases, recognizing the importance of terpenes is vital in beginning to understand the elaborate variety of effects different people experience when consuming cannabis. According to An Introduction to Terpenes Science & Cultivation, published in 2018, there have been over 50,000 terpenoids discovered globally, in plants alone, with over 250 non-cannabinoid terpenoids and anywhere from 145-150 cannabinoid terpenes that occur in cannabis.

Different Terpenes

There are over a hundred cannabis specific terpenes and each has the ability to alter a user’s experience, depending on their reaction to the terpene profile. Some common terpenes that are found in both cannabis and other plant life are:

Beta-Caryophyllene

  • With the ability to bind to CB2 receptors that only occur in your body and not your brain, this terpene is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory that won’t affect your brain function, making it perfect for anxiety, pain reduction and some types of seizures. 

Linalool

  • Leaning more on the sedative side, linalool terpenes are perfect for stress reduction and relaxation. This is also a good terpene to have if you are prone to anxiety.

Humulene

  • Humulene terpenes are an appetite suppressant and are being trialed along the cannabinoid THCV to function in this way. It is also known as a potent pain reliever.

Myrcene

  • Myrcene terpenes are one of the most powerful pain reducers of the cannabis kingdom. Its sedative effects are perfect for people suffering from lack of sleep and muscle tension. 

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