Cannabis has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries, but it wasn’t until recently that scientists began to unlock the secrets of its compounds. There are now two main categories of cannabis compounds: cannabinoids and terpenes.
Each one offers unique benefits that can help improve your health. In this article, we’ll look closely at cannabinoids and terpenes and explain how they work with your body to bring about therapeutic effects. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about the cannabis products you use.
So let’s get started and learn a bit more about these enlightening compounds!
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis plants. They interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to cause physiological and cognitive effects. They interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and throughout the body to produce their desired effects. They can produce effects like euphoria, energy, creativity, pain relief, sleepiness, anxiety, and increased appetite.
With more than 100 cannabinoids identified, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most famous. These are both ‘Phytocannabinoids’ or cannabinoids related to plants. They are found in high concentrations in the female buds of the cannabis plant. THC is the most psychoactive cannabinoid and has been used medicinally to treat conditions like chronic pain, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, and more. On the other hand, CBD is non-psychoactive and works with your body’s ECS to bring about a sense of balance without intoxication.
How Do Cannabinoids Work?
To understand how cannabinoids work in humans, we must first understand how our endocannabinoid system (ECS) works.
Essentially, the ECS consists of a vast network of cellular signals and receptors located in the brain and the body that control the central nervous system and functions like:
- Emotional responses;
- Temperature control;
- Inflammatory responses and appetite;
Cannabinoids work by activating CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human brain and body. They are located in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs. These receptors, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, are activated by molecules called endocannabinoids which are similar to those found in the cannabis plant, except these are produced naturally in the human body. So, the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant work by using the human body’s endocannabinoid system.
The human ECS, however, is not static; every person has a unique ECS that determines their responses to stimulants. This is why smoking the same cannabis joint can relax one person while it causes anxiety or paranoia in another. Perhaps further research will help us figure out why this happens, but as things stand now, each person figures out by trial and error how much and which type of cannabinoid works for them and which does not.
On this note, let’s look at the most commonly found cannabinoids.
Common Cannabinoids in Cannabis
There are many types of cannabinoids, each with its own therapeutic properties.
THC is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. THC produces the ‘high’ associated with cannabis. In addition, it has been found to be restorative for patients with cancer, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, and Parkinson’s. THC stimulates appetite and has also been found to be helpful to patients living with eating disorders.
CBD is a non-intoxicating and non-psychoactive cannabinoid widely known for its medicinal and therapeutic properties. CBD can help users with inflammation, seizures, spasms, chronic pain, stress, and anxiety without producing a high.
CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid usually present in aged cannabis flower. In addition to its sedative properties, CBN helps treat insomnia, pain relief, and inflammation.
The non-intoxicating CBC is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. CBC is found in high concentrations in the buds of Cannabis Sativa plants and is believed to improve pain relief, appetite stimulation, and sleep in patients undergoing cancer treatment.
CBG is a non-psychoactive compound that is particularly effective for treating depression and anxiety. It is also being studied for its potential use in treating glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, and cancer.
CBD-V has medicinal properties similar to CBD. However, it is more effective for treating nausea, making it a popular choice among chemotherapy patients.
THC-V is a psychoactive compound that, in addition to releasing energy and boosting focus, has been found to reduce anxiety and inflammation. It is also being studied for its potential use in treating obesity and diabetes.
By understanding the different types of cannabinoids and their respective medicinal properties, we can better understand the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Needless to say, more research is needed to further unlock the true potential of this fantastic plant.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds found in the trichomes or resin glands covering the cannabis flower and leaves. These aromatic compounds give the cannabis plant its distinct flavor and smell. There are nearly 30,000 terpenes found across various plants, 220 of which are found in cannabis!
Terpenes, often found as essential oils in plants give cannabis cultivars that peculiar aroma that ranges from woodsy herbal notes to sweet citrusy scents. That’s why that gassy, diesel-like strain smells nothing like the sweet, fruity one.
How Do Terpenes Work?
Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind themselves to various receptors, specifically GABA receptors, adenosine receptors, and (sometimes) cannabinoid receptors, to produce therapeutic effects. Their function isn’t limited to taste and smell. Many terpenes can help heal many issues, from pain to anxiety.
They have been used for centuries in traditional medicines, perfumes and flavoring agents due to their distinct fragrances and flavor profiles. They interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body to produce their effect. They can also act as:
- Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety) or sedatives.
For example, linalool has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain, anxiety, and depression. Limonene, on the other hand, is another citrusy terpene that helps reduce stress and improves mood.
Common Terpenes in Cannabis
You may not know the names of all the terpenes you’ve encountered, but you’ve probably smelled or tasted many of them before.
Often called the “mother of all terpenes,” Myrcene has a wide range of health benefits. It is typically found in lemongrass, hops, mangoes, basil, and cannabis and has an earthy spiced flavor. Of its many health benefits, myrcene is the most effective sedative. It is also known to help with pain relief and cartilage degeneration in arthritis.
As the name suggests, Limonene is a citrusy terpene commonly found in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. It is most often used in cleaning products and room fresheners. In cannabis plants, it is the second most commonly found terpene after Myrcene. Limonene produces energizing and uplifting effects in users.
Found in pine trees, basil, cannabis, dill, parsley, and rosemary, Pinene has a distinct smell of pine needles that is hard to miss. It is used most often in a therapeutic capacity for its anti-inflammatory properties. When applied directly to the skin, it is known to help protect against UV rays. It also helps boost energy levels and focus.
You can conjure up this cool and minty smell in your head as soon as you hear the word eucalyptus. Eucalyptol is found in eucalyptus leaves, rosemary, wormwood, cannabis, and bay leaves and is particularly useful when dealing with respiratory issues. It is also helpful with common colds, asthma, and bronchitis.
Abundantly found in cannabis and lavender flowers, Linalool has a distinct floral aroma. It is generally found to be calming and relaxing. Such anti-anxiety characteristics make it ideal for balancing the psychoactive effects of THC. It is also used in products that offer relief from stress and anxiety.
Caryophyllene has a peppery and spicy aroma typically found in black pepper, rosemary, oregano, and cloves. However, it is different from other terpenes because it directly interacts with CB2 receptors as cannabinoids do. This means it can perform the functions of both cannabinoids and terpenes. As a result, it can directly impact the body’s ECS while producing a distinct aroma and flavor.
Depending on terpene profiles, cannabis strains can have distinct psychological and physiological effects. Therefore, by identifying the terpenes in a cannabis strain, you can better understand its therapeutic benefits and potential side effects.
Terpenes vs Cannabinoids
These two essential components of cannabis work better together but are not the same.
While cannabinoids work directly on receptors in the endocannabinoid system in human beings, terpenes don’t always bind to ECS receptors but produce therapeutic and medicinal effects.
The two compounds might work differently but end up working synergistically toward creating interesting and healing effects on users.
Synergy Between Terpenes and Cannabinoids
While terpenes and cannabinoids are wholly different entities and perform different functions, when used together, they create magic. This ‘magic’ is known as the entourage effect. This synergy utilizes the different therapeutic elements present within the cannabis plant.
The entourage effect is what gives cannabis its healing and therapeutic effects. Cannabinoids, terpenes, polyphenols, flavonoids — all of these elements work together to create an effect that is more potent than when used independently.
Likewise, every cannabis strain contains a unique balance of cannabinoids and terpenes responsible for producing the desired effects. This ratio between these two compounds makes them so powerful and effective in helping the body heal.
How do I find out which cannabinoids or terpenes are in my products?
Most cannabis products will have a label or certificate of analysis (COA) that will list the concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes in the product. Alternatively, you can ask your dispensary for these details.
What is the difference between isolated cannabinoids and full-spectrum products?
Isolated cannabinoids are single or multiple cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum products, however, contain all compounds of the cannabis plant, including both terpenes and cannabinoids. Therefore, the entourage effect produced by full-spectrum products is often more powerful and effective than isolated cannabinoid products alone.
Do terpenes produce psychoactive effects?
No, terpenes do not generally produce any psychoactive or intoxicating effects. However, they can help enhance the psychoactive effects of some cannabinoids, such as THC.
Are there any adverse effects of terpenes or cannabinoids?
The effects of terpenes and cannabinoids vary from person to person and can depend on the strain and product in question. Generally, most products containing both compounds are safe for use. However, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions about how these compounds can affect your body.
Find the Right Collaboration of Cannabis
By learning more about terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds found in cannabis products, you can effectively customize your experience while also exploring their various health benefits. This way, you can take your therapeutic experience to the next level. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you!
To learn more, visit any of our locations in Battle Creek, East Tawas, Manistee, and Stanton or visit us online and browse our menu to find the collaboration of cannabis for you!