Although cannabinoids usually get most of the credit when it comes to the therapeutic and recreational effects of cannabis, researchers and consumers are beginning to appreciate the contribution of terpenes.
Terpenes provide the distinct flavor and aroma of each cannabis strain, but they can also have a significant effect on the experience. Let’s take a look at the therapeutic benefits that some of the most prominent terpenes have to offer.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are a broad class of organic compounds produced by plants, including cannabis. These hydrocarbon compounds share a similar structure built up from units of isoprene.
Terpenes are most well-known for their strong and unique odors. Essential oils derived from plants are largely comprised of terpenes.
Researchers believe that terpenes evolved to protect plants from insects and herbivores. And today, they are used regularly in the food, fragrance, and cannabis industries.
If you’re interested in learning more about terpenes, check out our in-depth article, “What Are Terpenes?”
Specific combinations of terpenes give each cannabis strains its unique fragrance and flavor. However, new evidence is emerging to suggest these aromatic compounds have more to offer than their scent.
Limonene is a terpene component of lemon and other citrus plant essential oils and is found in many cannabis strains. It’s also perhaps one of the more well-studied terpenes. Several studies have shown that limonene provides anti-anxiety effects.
Myrcene, another common terpene found in cannabis, has a strong sedative effect and is hypothesized to be responsible for the ‘couch-lock’ effect of certain cannabis strains.
Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature. It’s both an antimicrobial and antioxidant.
Linalool is a terpene found in many plant varieties including cannabis although it’s most commonly associated with lavender. This terpene is known to have a local anesthetic effect as well as antianxiety effects.
Additionally, one 2018 preclinical study presented data suggesting that terpene mixtures isolated from different cannabis strains could reduce oxidative stress and pain. Unfortunately, the effects of terpenes remain an understudied component in cannabis research.
Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
Individual terpenes have their own distinct therapeutic benefits. And when combined together with other terpenes and cannabinoids, the effect can be greater than the sum of its parts. This synergistic phenomenon is known as the entourage effect.
Moreover, principal component analysis of hundreds of different cannabis strains suggests that terpene content may be the distinguishing feature between putative Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica strains.
As a result, cannabis consumers are increasingly interested in the terpene profiles of the cannabis strains they’re consuming. Knowing the terpene chemotype of your strains can help you maximize the therapeutic benefits for your customers. That’s why terpene testing represents a valuable addition to your product info.
With over 25 combined years of laboratory experience, Encore Labs delivers high-quality laboratory cannabis testing including terpene analysis. Contact us today to learn more about terpene profiling for your cannabis strains.