One of the great things about turning to cannabis for medicinal purposes is that, unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, the experience can be full of flavor. Terpenes are the organic compounds found in the cannabis plant that are responsible for creating the unique taste and aroma of each individual strain. Interestingly enough, terpenes are not unique to cannabis. They’re organically produced by a variety of plants and insects, including hops – a common flavoring agent found in many beers. Having the option to choose the flavor and scent of the medicinal products you buy makes the process of easing your medical condition that much more enjoyable.
What else do terpenes do?
Aside from determining a strain’s scent and taste, terpenes are also responsible for providing therapeutic benefits, just like their cannabinoid partners, THC and CBD. Formed from the same shiny, resinous trichomes as cannabinoids, cannabis terpenes also bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors located throughout the brain and body. Depending upon which receptors they react with, different terpenes may help to induce sleep and relax muscles, while others can reduce stress and elevate mood, or reduce inflammation and increase energy.
The entourage effect
When terpenes work together with cannabinoids, in a process known as the entourage effect, the therapeutic potentials increase dramatically. Terpenes can also modify how much of each cannabinoid is absorbed. This means the presence of certain terpenes can increase or decrease the amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC is absorbed, effectively controlling the potency. Consequently, a strain of medical cannabis with the perfect mix of terpenes and cannabinoids could be the equivalent of a hand-tailored suit, designed to treat a particular disease or condition with great accuracy.