Terpenes – Fine Tuning The Therapeutic Effect

The terpenes are the constituents that give cannabis its typical smell and taste. To date more than 120 different ones have been found in Cannabis. Unlike cannabinoids, all major terpenoids present in cannabis (with pretty names such as myrcene, alpha-pinene, and beta-caryophyllene) can be found abundantly in nature. Nonetheless, these terpenes display a wide range of effects that may be involved in modulating some of the undesired effects of THC, for example by reducing short term memory loss or anxiety resulting from cannabis use. Terpenes may also produce their own pharmacological effects; some of them are potent antibiotics, while others have analgesic or anti-inflammatory properties, for example.

Because so many cannabis terpenes exist, there are many different combinations in which they can be present in a cannabis plant. And just like with the cannabinoids, each specific mix of terpenes may lead to a unique medicinal effect. Terpenes easily evaporate (which is the reason we can smell them) and they are inhaled during smoking or vaporizing. Unfortunately, only very few studies have been done on potential interactions between the terpenes and the cannabinoids. Nevertheless, it is generally believed that each distinct type (variety, strain) of cannabis has its own unique composition of cannabinoids and terpenes.