Terpenes: It’s all in your Nose
Believe it or not you are constantly making contact with and benefiting from various terpenes throughout the world. A terpene is the natural scent a plant or a fruit produces, the specific smell you’re experiencing is the plant’s terpene(s). Terpenes are able to enter the body directly through the olfactory nerve to the brain. This is why when you experience certain smells, they can help you relax or help you stay alert. For instance terpenes can be easily accessed and used for general wellness through essential oils like, using lavender oil for sleep or orange oil as a mood lifter.
Terpenes are commonly known to be used in essential oils as a healing tool in many therapeutic and medical practices. Dating back as far as Ancient Chinese history. They can be used for everyday ailments like headaches as well as for specific medical conditions. Each terpene works differently on each user because everyone’s eCS is different but all of them have been recognized and studied for their medicinal benefits. The overall benefits and therapeutic use cases include;
- Appetite inducing
- Impact brain function
- Effects mood
- Reduces pain
- Sedative / Reduces Insomnia
Another easy way to get terpenes directly into your system is through cannabis consumption. The entire reason the human body can consume, absorb, and process the benefits of cannabis, including the benefits of terpenes, is all because of the endocannabinoid system (eCS). Endo meaning endogenous and in context to biology it refers to something internal. Cannabinoids are the group of chemicals and compounds that activate this system. Once terpenes enter the system through the endocannabinoid system, they then can provide a variety of both psychological and physical benefits.
“A 2001 review about the synergistic effects of terpenes in cannabis lists many potential mechanisms of action for these compounds, with its authors suggesting that terpenes may increase serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and GABA activity,” according to Leafly “They argue that these effects may support synergistic contributions of terpenoids on cannabis-mediated pain and mood effects.”
Every cannabis plant, as unique as it is, also has a very unique terpene profile and some strains have higher terpene levels than others. In fact if two of the same strain are grown, one inside and one outside, the one planted outside will have higher levels. Also no two plants, even if they are the same strain, have the exact same terpene profile. Terpenes exists in the entire cannabis plant, including CBD and hemp. The cannabis industry has now been able to extract cannabis concentrates and keep a majority of the terpenes, though some are lost through the chemical extraction process. When cannabis is consumed through an oil extraction such as a dab or vape pen the user can taste and smell the terpenes even more because they are being heated directly.
The function and effects of terpenes in cannabis are still being studied but many are discovering that it helps those that consume them. Cannabis produces lots of different types of variations of flowers and scents so there are also of course various terpenes present in every plant. These include limonene, pinene, humulene, caryophyllene, to name a few. We’ll be individually going through all of these terpenes and more in this series (Terpenes: It’s all in the Nose/It’s all in your Nose) and giving readers information on each one and how they work.