Terpenes & Cannabinoids: What are they?
Terpenes vs. Cannabinoids: What are they?
When you eat an orange, how much of the orange do you eat?
Of course, the juicy part, but what about the peel? The stem from which it hangs? The branch from which it dangles? The tree from which it grows?
Whenever we consume plants, we often target a specific part of the plant for consumption. In the case of cannabis, we most often target the seeds, leaves, and flowers. Seeds can be eaten or turned into oils, flowers can be made into a variety of food products, and we all know how cannabis buds fit into the market.
But not every part of the plant contains the same chemical profile.
When looking at today’s cannabis market, people are most often looking at the terpene and cannabinoid content. Here’s why.
What is a terpene and why is it important?
Terpenes are ubiquitous throughout nature. They’re used in plant defense, propagation, and homeostasis. However, in today’s conversation, we’re mainly concerned with the role they play in cannabis.
Interestingly, in medical marijuana, cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids are all manufactured in the trichomes, which is what makes them so valuable.
While the cannabinoids are the more famous cannabis compounds, the terpenes are responsible for its incredible smell and even adds to its effects on the consumer.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids—while not entirely restricted to production within cannabis—are compounds that interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS).
There have been well over 100 different cannabinoids identified within marijuana plants, and every variety can present a different chemical makeup.
They often mimic our internal cannabinoids: anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol.
Why Cannabinoids are So Crucial to Medical Marijuana Treatment
Despite facing decades of negative propaganda and criminalization, the world is pushing ahead on cannabis science.
That science has shown us that cannabinoids offer novel therapeutic models where conventional therapies sometimes fail.
For example, the opioid crisis has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year, according to the CDC. Cannabis may be able to replace some opioid treatments that lead to those deaths.
Moreover, according to 2018 research, medical marijuana may help people reduce the number of opioids they consume.
In fact, the paper’s authors noted that “this article demonstrates the potential cannabis has to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms, reduce opioid consumption, ameliorate opioid cravings, prevent opioid relapse, improve OUD treatment retention, and reduce overdose deaths.”
How To Decide on a Strain That Works For You?
Education is key. Your medical marijuana doctor or preferred budtender is your best point-of-reference. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a product by yourself.
For example, your nose is a solid judge of what will work for you. As mentioned, the terpenes produced by the plants produce unique smells.
Those smells interact with your system in a way that lets if you know if you’re going to like a strain or not.
Your next move it to experiment. You might find several strains that smell like they’ll agree with you, but sampling them will give you a much better indication of its efficacy as a medicine.