Welcome to the Green Flower Learning Lab. The information in these pages are designed for both the general consumer, as well as, health and medical practitioners seeking to expand their working knowledge of cannabis and the potential of cannabinoid based therapies. While we work to ensure the information in these pages and resources is accurate and up to date, we do not make any claims as to the veracity or totality of the information contained herein. Research into cannabis as medicine is ongoing and our understanding of its many potential benefits continues to grow everyday. Our hope is that you will find this information beneficial and inspiring in your own search to better understand the potential of this incredible plant to increase overall health, vitality, and well-being.
Strain Terpenes – Nature’s Medicinal Secret
All plant life have terpenes. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the unique aroma and flavors of any given plant. Terpenes also have an abundance of beneficial medicinal qualities. You may have heard of these terpenes by another name – essential oils.
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different terpenes, each existing in different concentrations depending on the strain. Researchers have been busy studying the effects of these terpenes and whether or how they interact with CBD and other cannabinoids. This knowledge is enabling companies, to scratch new levels of product customization and formulation since it makes it possible to include a certain terpene profile in CBD products to achieve a specific effect.
In this article, we will cover all the important bits you need to know about terpenes, and give you an overview of the terpenes we include in our products, including their effects on the mind and body.
What are Terpenes and why they should matter to you?
Terpenes, or terpenoids can be described as aromatic metabolites that exist in the oils of all plants. There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence, and the cannabis plant produces over 100 of these. Since plants are immobile, they cannot flee to escape predators or find safer and more favorable conditions immediately. As they evolved, they had to invent novel ways to ward off predators and survive, mostly using chemical weaponry.
To humans, terpenes have medicinal properties that have been utilized for centuries to regulate mood, sleep difficulties, acuity and general health. For example, the terpenes found in lavender have a calming and relaxing effect, while those in rosemary help in improving concentration and good mood.
Terpenes in Cannabis
The female cannabis plant produces glandular trichomes, that is, glands with small hairy growths that project from the leaves and flowers. It is in these trichomes that you will find the famous compounds in Cannabis, including cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids (more on flavonoids later). If harvesting is done delicately and the trichomes remain intact, what you get is cannabis with a rich profile of these compounds with distinct colors, flavors and aromas
The Medical Benefits of Terpene in Cannabis Strains
As mentioned above, scientists have been able to isolate over a hundred different terpenes in the cannabis plant, and if we consider the various variation of each one, this number becomes much larger. For instance, limonenes are terpenes that give citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges their signature smells. Even though the limonene found in both these fruits are identical, it’s the small differences in form and concentration that differentiates them.
Below is a list of the individual profiles of the terpenes we include in our products and some of the effects they have on health.
Individual Terpene Profiles
Myrcene is a terpene with an earthy, musky and fruity aroma that is very similar to that of cloves (girolfe). This terpene is the most commonly found in various cannabis strains and can make up to 60% of the total essential oils in some varieties. Nonetheless, it is not found in hemp textiles. Myrcene can also be found in hops, mangoes, West Indian wood, basil, lemongrass, and thyme.
Myrcene has pain relieving, anti-inflamatory, antibiotic and sedative properties. Many indica strains have higher concentrations of this terpene, which contributes to the tired/sedated feeling experienced after consumption.
More detailed information on Myrcene can be found here.
Limonene is another common terpene found in most cannabis varieties that as the name suggests, gives lemons, oranges, limes, mandarins and grapefruits their characteristic citrus smell. This terpene is also most likely present in your favorite cleaning products and ointments. Limonene has been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal as well as anti-carcinogenic properties. Limonene prevents cancer by inhibiting the deterioration of the RAS gene, one of the major causes of tumor development. Furthermore, it is able to protect against Aspergillus and other cancer-causing substances found in smoke.
Limonene has been shown to penetrate the blood-brain barrier quickly and easily, hence increasing systolic pressure. This can explain the feelings of enhanced focus, attention, well-being and even increased sex drive experienced after consuming limonene.
It doesn’t stop there, limonene improves the absorption of other terpenes and chemical compounds through the skin, and is sometimes used in spray, ointment or other topical forms to treat depression and anxiety. Lastly, limonene is able to reduce stomach discomfort caused by acidity and also, activate the immune system. Plants use limonene to repel predators such as flies, like an insecticide.
More detailed information on Limonene can be found here.
Beta-Caryophyllene is another terpene found in cannabis as well as several herbs and spices such as basils, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon leaves. This terpene has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and analgesic properties. It has been used as an effective treatment for toothache. Interestingly, caryophyllene has been shown to selectively activate the CB2 endocannabinoid receptors (CB2) yet it is not a cannabinoid itself. This could have major implications in the ongoing medicinal research on the use of CBD to treat various conditions.
More detailed information on Caryophyllene can be found here.
Pinene boasts of being the most common terpene in the world and is responsible for the familiar odor of pine and fir trees. It is also present in other plants such as sage, parsley, basil and rosemary. In medicine, pinene is beneficial for its properties as an expectorant and bronchodilator as well as for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Scientists have established that pinene has the ability to cross the hemato encephalic barrier in the brain easily, where it inhibits acetylcholinesterase. This prevents the deterioration of cells responsible for information transmission in the brain, leading to an improvement in memory. Pinene is also able to counteract some of the effects of THC such as short-term memory loss.
The smoke of cannabis strains with high levels of pinene produce a bronco dilation effect which gives the sensation of sucking in more air during inhalation. This can sometimes cause coughing or hyperventilation. Pinene is also associated with improved concentration, personal contentment and energy.
More detailed information on Alpha Pinene can be found here.
More detailed information on Beta Pinene can be found here.
Terpineol is another terpene present in Cannabis. It can also be found in sage, rosemary, lilac, lime blossoms and crabapple blossoms. This terpene has been found to depress the central nervous system, hence inducing drowsiness, while reducing anxiety and excitement. During studies carried out on mice, terpineol was shown to reduce their mobility by up to 45%. This explains some of the sedative effects caused by certain cannabis varieties. Terpineol is normally found in strains that contain high levels of pinene.
More detailed information on Terpineol can be found here.
Linalool has a floral and spicy smell and gives flowers and spices their various aromas and tones. It is produced in plants such as lavender, spring flowers and coriander, not to mention cannabis. Linalool is a potent anti-cancer agent and also has stress-relieving, anti-anxiety and sedative effects.
Based on tests carried out on mice, scientists established that linalool reduced their mobility by 75%. It is therefore highly responsible for some of the sedative effects seen in cannabis. Linalool is able to balance the anxious effects caused by THC. It also portrays analgesic and anti-epileptic qualities.
More detailed information on Linalool can be found here.
There are other terpenes that can be extracted from the cannabis plant, though in small amounts. These include; Alpha Bisabolol, Borneol, Camphene, Caryophyllene Oxide, Eucalytptol, Fenchol, Humulene, Nerolidol, Ocimene, Phytol, Pulegone, Valencene, just to mention a few.
Terpenes, cannabinoids and the ‘Entourage Effect’
The terpene profile of various cannabis strains can help us understand why some people with medical conditions report better outcomes when using one strain of cannabis over another, even if they have the same cannabinoid (CBD) levels. This is because the endless combination of terpene profiles give each cannabis strain its signature tastes, smells and effects.
Several studies now show that some terpenes work together while some interact with cannabinoids such as CBD and THC helping them pass through the bloodstream quicker and easier as well as in lowering their blood-to-brain barrier.
It doesn’t end there, since terpenes affect our minds and bodies in their own unique ways, they have been found to work together to either inhibit or enhance the effects of the dominant cannabinoids. Moreover, some terpene combinations work synergistically, while others work to inhibit each other. This has come to be commonly known as ‘the entourage effect’. Meaning the ability of different components in cannabis to work together or against each other, which either downplays or enhances the end results.
By using terpenes to modulate the adverse effects of cannabinoids and other terpenes, producers such as GreenFlowerBotanicals are beginning to create superior strains that are solely focused on creating the desired experience for the patient. Cultivators can increase the terpene levels in their plants by tweaking their growing techniques with regards to soil, light, water and nutrients. Nevertheless, it is easier to add specific terpenes to the finished products.
Terpenes can temper the feelings of anxiety caused by THC or double the anti-depressant properties of a CBD-rich strain. Terpenes such as myrcene can lower the resistance across the blood-to-brain barrier, hence speeding up the effects of CBD or THC. Let’s not get carried away though. Research is still in its early stages and it will be a while before this will be an exact science.
Even though the pharmaceutical industry has been trying to isolate the active compounds in cannabis to create a synthetic reproduction that can be patented, nothing has come close to full spectrum oils. The diversity offered by nature has proved difficult to reproduce due to the lack of the ‘entourage effect’. Pure THC and CBD have been shown to have different effects because of the missing terpenes and cannabinoids that influence these effects.
Terpenes have added another dimension to the medicinal value of the cannabis plant and more research is required for us to fully take advantage of these medicinal jewels prepared for us by mother nature.
What’s the difference between Flavonoids and Terpenes?
Before we wrap up, let’s take a quick look at flavonoids which have been not properly introduced in this article. Flavonoids may sound more like flavors, but don’t be fooled, they are the nutrients responsible for color in living organisms. Like terpenes, they form one of the largest plant nutrient families that scientists know about, with more than 6,000 different flavonoids in existence. Around 20 of these can be found in the cannabis plant, which is great news because they have also been found to offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Flavonoids give various strains of cannabis the green or purple color. As things stand, more research is needed to establish the full role of these compounds and how they interact with the other phytochemicals in the cannabis plant.
Besides cannabinoids, the cannabis plant produces hundreds of other phytochemicals with their own therapeutic properties as well as the ability to induce synergic responses when combined. This is what has come to be known popularly as the ‘entourage effect. However, the research concerned with the interaction of specific terpenes on our bodies is still at its infancy.
Even so, many people using cannabis extracts as part of their medical therapy have reported that full spectrum extracts with terpenes and cannabinoids seem to be more effective compared to isolates. As a result, consumers are also checking for terpene profiles and levels in lab tests on top of the main cannabinoids such as CBD. Here is a tip – if you are unsure of products with high terpene levels, follow your nose. The more the aroma, the more the terpenes.
At GFB, giving you the right information is at the top of our priorities. In kind, we have provided a list of the terpenes contained in each product, with a lab certificate you can access on-demand.
The Synergistic Therapeutic Effects Of Cannabinoids and Terpenes