There’s no denying the therapeutic value of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), whether we’re talking individually or in conjunction with each other, researchers are in the process of discovering new cannabinoids all the time, of which over one hundred are known to exist so far. Many consumers have only recently learned about THC and its progressively popular associate CBD, however, the cannabis plant is packed with an entire pharmacy’s worth of medicinal compounds.
While THC is known for causing the “stoned” effect in cannabis, this process is enhanced by what is referred to as terpenes. Terpenes are found throughout the plant world (including some insects), however, they are major components of cannabis resin, constituting the largest percentage of essential oils contained in most plants. Most flowers, spices, and herbs contain these oils, which can be transformed into various products for medicinal (aromatherapy) or cosmetic purposes (incense, perfumes, etc.) as they have the capacity to significantly enhance your mood by stimulating or exciting, helping you relax, focus or feel satisfied. Just think of your favorite fragrant bud and the various scents and odors it emits when you give it a little squeeze. The citrusy, spicy, sweet or earthy aroma that hits your nose is an excellent indicator of what type of effect you can expect once the combination of these compounds enters your brain.
There’s a good reason as to why terpenes behave the way they do. Since a plant cannot flee from a predator or change locations if competition moves into its vicinity, defending itself and/or its territory is a must. This is done by either attracting pollinators, killing or repelling herbivores or attracting their predators. In other words, the cannabis plant uses terpenes (as well as THC) as chemical warfare for its very survival. When the terpenes in cannabis are inhaled or consumed together with other cannabinoids, you get what is known as the entourage effect.
Produced in the same resin glands that THC and other cannabinoids are generated, terpenes have shown to provide various effects on the human body in that they can alter brain function, affect mood, as well as sensitivity and perceptions, such as balance and pain. Apart from being nature’s pharmacy, the terpenes and cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant also function as a spice kit of sorts. Some of the most common terpenes contained in the cannabis plant include:
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