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 occurring 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 medicinal properties. Some of the most notable medical conditions treated with cannabinoids include cancer, seizure disorders, pain disorders, and neurodegenerative disorders. 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. In addition to its sense of euphoria, THC is known to stimulate appetite, relieve pain, muscle spasticity, inflammation and insomnia. THC is also known for its anti-tumoral and anti-seizure properties. THC is found to reduce tumor growth and can exert anti-seizure properties.

CBD (Cannabidiol) - The most widely studied and acknowledged non-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBD is known for its medical benefits. CBD is known to relieve: inflammation, anxiety, pain, psychosis, seizures, spasms to name only a few. CBD is found in both Cannabis and Hemp. CBD has a weak binding affinity for cannabinoid receptors when consumed as an isolated cannabinoid.

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 making it helpful for insomnia.

CBG (Cannabigerol) - CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBG is known to kill or slow bacterial growth, reduce inflammation, inhibit cell growth in tumor/cancer cells, and induces appetite.

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. CBC is believed to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, CBC could potentially contribute to the neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids. This means cannabinoids are implicated in motor-related disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Fibromyalgia. GW Pharmaceuticals holds a patent on the use of CBC, CBDV and CBDVA as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders.

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. CBDV has been found to decrease the frequency and severity of seizures. It also reduces nausea and inflammation.

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. CBDA is also attributed with anti-inflammatory properties.

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. The acid form of cannabinoids are attributed with anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and antispasmodic effects.

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 found 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 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 and is potentially helpful for asthmatics. Pinene also promotes alertness and memory retention 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, muscle relaxant, 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. Myrcene is known to be analgesic (painkiller) and an anti-inflammatory compound. (Earthy, Musky, Fruity)

Linalool - Linalool is the prominent terpene in lavender as well as in some cannabis strains. Linalool is an anxiolytic compound that counters anxiety and mediates stress: having a calming effect on the body and mind. In addition, linalool is a strong anticonvulsant, and it also amplifies serotonin-receptor transmission, conferring an antidepressant effect. Applied topically, linalool can assist in healing acne and skin burns without scarring. Linalool is often higher in some Kush strains as well as the strain Lavender, named for its terpene content. (Floral, Spicy)

Limonene - Limonene is a major terpene in citrus as well as in cannabis, has been used clinically to dissolve gallstones, improve mood and relieve heartburn and gastrointestinal reflux. Limonene has a powerful antimicrobial action that can kill pathogenic bacteria. 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 have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory qualities. Additionally, Humulene has been found to suppress appetite. So if you want to avoid the munchies, search out strains high in Humulene. (Earthy, Woody)

Beta-caryophyllene - Beta-caryophyllene is 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. It is gastroprotective and shows great promise as a therapeutic compound for inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders. 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.