Cannabinoids and Terpenes

Cannabis Education: Cannabinoids and Terpenes

1What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a group of chemical substances that join with special receptors of the body and brain now known as the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Cannabinoids can be naturally occuring inside our body, known as endogenous cannabinoids. Other cannabinoids can be derived from plants, known as phytocannabinoids: this is the category for cannabis cannabinoids. Finally, there are also synthetic cannabinoids, such as the pharmaceutical drug marinol. Cannabinoids have been found to have many applications ranging from altering your state of consciousness to a wide array of potential herbal health applications. Each cannabinoid of the cannabis plant has a unique chemical structure, and function.

2What are the most common cannabinoids and what do they do?

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) - The most abundant cannabinoid present in most varieties of the cannabis plant. THC is well known for its psychoactive effects. THC was the first cannabinoid to be discovered, which led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.

CBD (Cannabidiol) - The most widely studied and acknowledged non-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBD is known for its potential health benefits. CBD is found in both Cannabis and Hemp. CBD has a weak binding affinity for cannabinoid receptors when consumed as an isolated cannabinoid. Hemp derived CBD is now widely available with federal legalization of industrial hemp. Hemp derived CBD contains no THC, while cannabis derived CBD product often contain THC.

CBN (Cannabinol) - CBN is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that occurs in trace amounts within the living cannabis plant. Once cannabis has been harvested and dried, CBN increases over time. THC and other cannabinoids slowly oxidize over time turning into CBN. CBN also increases due to decarboxylation. CBN is most widely known for its sedative properties.

CBG (Cannabigerol) - CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBG is believed to induce appetite. There are many other potential uses for CBG being investigated by scientific studies. See links below.

CBC (Cannabichromene) - The lesser known Cannabichromene is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that most likely works together with other cannabinoids and terpenes maximize the effects from the whole plant: otherwise known as the Entourage Effect.

THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin) - THCV is only found in some strains of cannabis. THCV has a slight structural variation from THC which results in very different effects. These effects include a reduction in anxiety and inflammation, suppression of appetite, and the promotion of bone growth.

CBDV (Cannabidivarin) - Another lesser known and non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidivarin, has been found more prevalent in strains lower in THC and hemp.

CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid ) - CBDA is the acid form of CBD, which is found in the raw cannabis plant. CBDA when burned, vaporized, or heated at a certain temperature turns into CBD.

THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid ) - THCA is the acid form of THC, which is found in the raw cannabis plant. THCA converts to Δ9-THC when burned, vaporized, or heated at certain temperatures.

3What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are what give plants, including cannabis it’s unique smell. Additionally, terpenes interact with cannabinoids to give each strain of marijuana its own unique effects. Several studies have suggested that terpenes work together with cannabinoids to help pass the blood brain barrier. Terpenes exist in many plants in the natural world. There are an estimated 200 different terpenes in varying marijuana plants. Terpenes have also been found to have potential health benefits.

4What are a few of the most common terpenes found in cannabis and what effects are they known to produce?

Alpha-pinene - Alpha-pinene is the most common terpene in the plant world and one often found in cannabis. Alpha-pinene is a bronchodilator. Pinene also promotes alertness by inhibiting the metabolic breakdown of acetylcholinesterase, a neurotransmitter in the brain that stimulates these cognitive effects. (Pine scent)

Myrcene - Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes found in the cannabis plant. If a cannabis plant has a high level of myrcene it is likely to have a sedative, relaxing, and possibly hypnotic effect. High levels of myrcene (usually above .5%) often have the couch lock effect: most commonly attributed to the Indica variety of cannabis. Often times indica strains are higher in Myrcene, however this is not an absolute and it is always good to check the terpene profile to be sure. (Earthy, Musky, Fruity)

Linalool - Linalool is the prominent terpene in lavender as well as in some cannabis strains. Linalool is a potentially anxiolytic compound that may mediate stress resulting in a calming effect on the body and mind. Linalool is often higher in some Kush strains as well as the the strain Lavender, named for its terpene content. (Floral, Spicy)

Limonene - Limonene is a major terpene in citrus as well as in cannabis. Limonene is reputed for being the uplifting terpene. Limonene is found most prevalent in strains of cannabis known as Sativa such as Tangie, Super Lemon Haze and Jack Herer. However, it can be found in strains known as indica such as Berry White, so make sure to check your terpene profiles! (Citrus)

Humulene - Humulene is found most commonly associated with hops, cloves, coriander, and basil. Humulene is what gives beer the “hoppy” aroma. Humulene has been found to potentially suppress appetite. So if you want to avoid the munchies, it might be helpful to search out strains high in Humulene. (Earthy, Woody)

Beta-caryophyllene - Beta-caryophyllene is the the primary terpene found in the essential oils of black pepper, oregano, cannabis and many green, leafy vegetables. This terpene is the first non-cannabinoid found to directly stimulate cannabinoid receptors. There is no clear evidence suggesting cannabis strains indica, sativa or hybrid will have a definitive amount of beta-caryophyllene. You will have to seek out products tested for terpene content to know which strains will be higher in Beta-caryophyllene.

5What is the “Entourage Effect?”

The cannabis plant is made up of many different constituents including many different cannabinoids and terpenes. The Entourage Effect contends that combining cannabis compounds creates different impacts on the body and mind than a single compound on its own.

Some of the applications of the Entourage effect include using full spectrum extracts such as Rick Simpson Oil, full spectrum Co2 Oil and Butane Hash Extractions. Examples of isolated cannabinoid medicine include marinol (synthetic THC), some distillate extractions, which remove the terpenes and leave only concentrated cannabinoids. Further, experimenting with various different ratios of cannabinoids and terpene profiles to find the right fit for your own personal desired results use the concept of the entourage effect.

6How do I find out what terpenes are in my cannabis?

When cannabis and cannabis products undergo the testing process, it is an option to also have the terpene content tested. At Urban Farmacy we carry terpene profiles on many of our cannabis and cannabis products. When you stop by our Portland dispensary Urban Farmacy ask your budtender if your favorite cannabis strains have a terpene profile.

7How do I know which terpenes will be right for me?

A great way to find the right combination of cannabinoids and terpenes is to keep a journal. Write down which strain you try, who the grower is and what the terpene profile is. Note some of the effects, and if they were desirable. Also note some of the desired effects you are looking for next time. Then when you visit Urban Farmacy next time, share your desired effects and past experiences with the budtenders. They can help guide you to products that will fit your needs.