It’s the scent that fills your lungs when hiking in nature–terpenes. The fragrance that captures your mind and takes you into a memory–terpenes. The smell of a delicious meal simmering–terpenes. The waft of a ripe piece of fruit–terpenes. All of them, worthy experiences of the terpene molecule… but terpenes combined with the right ratio of cannabinoids… that’s what makes medical cannabis magical.
Think about all those cannabinoid receptors on every cell in the body. (Read here to learn more about them) If, when a person starts using medical cannabis their endocannabinoid system is significantly compromised, then how will the cannabinoids know which system or organ or tissue or cell to prioritize targetting? Terpenes. Terpenes are a signaling–or communication system–for plants and, it turns out, for humans as well.
For example, one of the primary terpenes of oregano is beta-caryophyllene. For plants, it is anti-microbial and anti-fungal to maintain the plant’s health. Oil of oregano is known as a natural anti-bacterial for people as well. In addition, beta-caryophyllene is an anti-inflammatory specific to the digestive tract and helps maintain tight junctures on the gut wall. In a medical cannabis blend that includes high CBD and beta-caryophyllene, one can count on support for a healthy microbiome, a healthy gut wall, a modulated immune system as well as additional anti-inflammatory support throughout the body.
Pinene is the terpene most associated to the smell of forests. A hike in the forest will clear your mind and open your airways to breathe deeper, right? Yeah, that’s the pinene. In fact, Pinene was used as a bronchodilator medication in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. When combined with the right ratio of cannabinoids, one experiences enhanced focus and alertness or more open airways for breathing. In other words, pinene is a great terpene for people with allergies and/or ADHD.
Terpenes tend to cluster. Humulene is a pre-cursor to beta-caryophyllene known for anti-tumor action, pain relief, and suppression of appetite. They love to work together with the anti-inflammatory action of the beta-caryophyllene supporting the muscle relaxing action of the humulene. Often time, where you’ll find these two, myrcene will also be. Myrcene has a sedative action that also supports pain relief, though more often at night then during the active day.
Limonene also likes to cluster with humulene and beta-caryophyllene, though seldom with myrcene. Limonene is known for it’s uplifting effect on neurotransmitter balance. Combined with pinene in a high CBD ratio of cannabinoids, it provides dramatic relief for anxiety, depression, and stress.
Linalool, with a scent like lavender, is also a great terpene to support mental and emotional wellbeing, however it doesn’t naturally cluster with Limonene… which doesn’t mean they can’t be bred into combination… it just means that linalool naturally clusters with myrcene and helps provide pain relief when combined with a cannabinoid ratio that includes more THC. Personally, I like to add linalool to oil-infused blends by adding a small amount of organic lavender flowers into the extraction process. The limonene/linalool combination is a “relaxed euphoria.” It’s magical ; >)
There are many, many more terpenes than there is time to discuss within the parameters of this article. And even more terpenes that need more research…or discovery. The same can be said of cannabinoids. More research will inevitably show us more ways to use medical cannabis–nature’s medicine–more effectively for more conditions. Suffice it to say for now: where there are terpenes and cannabinoids in the right combination, magic happens. And that magic results in health and wellbeing for every form of life that has an endocannabinoid system. Who knew a “weed” could be so inspired?
Questions or comments? I’d love to read them in the comments section below.