It is becoming increasingly common to hear people talk about cannabis’ ‘entourage effect’. However, many don’t understand what it means or the significance this holds. You might be surprised to learn that the cannabis plant is not just renowned for its cannabinoids like CBD and THC!
It is the cannabis terpenes that lend the plant its most appealing qualities: the aromatic scents and delicious flavours!
Read on to find out what terpenes and entourage effect are and how they influence the therapeutic qualities of the cannabis plant.
Deconstructing the Cannabis plant
There are more than 120 different kinds of phytocannabinoids in cannabis plants. They alter the effects of your endocannabinoid system, which primarily works to keep your body functions in balance.
Out of these, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of the most well-known phytocannabinoids.
People consume THC and CBD in a variety of ways, both separately and together. However, some research suggests that taking these phytocannabinoids together- along with other chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant called terpenes- is more effective than taking THC or CBD alone.
This is all due to an interplay between terpenes and phytocannabinoids known as the entourage effect. Before we delve into that in detail, let’s first define what cannabis terpenes are.
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What are cannabis terpenes?
Cannabis terpenes, or terpenoids, are the fragrant molecules that give cannabis sativa plants their distinctive aroma. Phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC don’t have any odour. Therefore, the cannabis’ compelling fragrance usually depends on which terpenes are dominant.
It is the combination of THC and terpenes that gives each cannabis strain a unique fragrance and novel psychoactive flavour.
How many types of cannabis terpenes are there?
There are more than 200 different types of terpenes in a cannabis sativa plant, in varying combinations and concentrations. When some heat is applied to the cannabis flower, these terpene molecules evaporate in the air quickly.
It is noteworthy that the flavour of these molecules is maximised by the vaporisation of the entire CBD flower. This allows your brain to decipher the flavour without being smothered by smoke.
Read our similar blog on: Vaping vs. Smoking CBD Flower
Benefits of cannabis terpenes for plants and humans
Many other species of plants produce terpenes too. Examples include citrus fruit trees and conifers. Terpenes are the primary ingredient used in essential oils.
The terpenes present in the cannabis plant have given it an evolutionary advantage. The pungent terpene oils:
- drive away animals and insects
- help prevent fungus.
Terpenes are healthy for people too. A recent study in the British Journal of Pharmacology highlighted the extensive therapeutic attributes of terpenoids which are usually lacking in pure CBD products.
5 common cannabis terpenes and their advantages:
Let’s take a look at some common cannabis terpenes and their advantages:
Citrus and some cannabis plants contain this terpene. A 2019 study showed that inhaling limonene odour lowered heart rates in humans.
Limonene also addresses issues such as:
- gastrointestinal reflux
- low mood.
It is a common terpene found in cannabis sativa plants. Alpha-pinene has airway dilating properties. These are particularly helpful for asthmatics. It also helps in boosting cognitive functions such as memory retention and alertness.
It is a prominent terpene found in lavender and some cannabis strains. Linalool helps with mediating uneasiness and stress and has a strong mood-boosting effect. Moreover, when applied topically, it can help alleviate skin irritation.
Essential oils present in various edible herbs contain beta-caryophyllene. Examples include oregano and black pepper. Some cannabis plants also contain this terpene.
It helps in treating certain types of ulcers, inflammatory conditions, and autoimmune disorders. This is due to its ability to bind directly to the CB2 receptor, which helps regulate the immune functions of the body.
Many cannabis varieties contain this musky terpene. It has sedating, muscle relaxing, and anti-inflammatory properties. Myrcene also helps alleviate pain.
Now that we have a better understanding of what terpenes are, let’s see how they play a part in the entourage effect.
What is the entourage effect and why is it important?
Terpenes do a lot more than just provide a distinctive aroma and flavour. They also play a vital role in supporting other compounds in cannabis Sativa to produce strong cerebral and physiological effects. There is a potent synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, as well as other compounds, present such as flavonoids.
The theory behind the entourage effect is this; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. All compounds present in the cannabis plant work well together. When consumed together, they produce a better effect than if they were used alone.
Simply put, the therapeutic impact of the cannabis sativa plant is greater if taken as a whole. This is in contrast to the compounds- cannabinoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, terpenes- taken on their own in an isolated form.
Potential benefits of the entourage effect
The group interplay of compounds creates unique properties that would not have been present in pure CBD or THC. Advocates of this entourage effect believe that it results in the maximised medicinal benefits of CBD and THC.
A 2011 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking phytocannabinoids (THC and CBD) and terpenes together can:
- Enhance cortical activity
- Increase blood flow
- Get rid of certain respiratory pathogens
The cannabinoid-terpenoid synergy could also prove beneficial for alleviating symptoms of:
- Fungal and bacterial infections
- Certain types of cancers
What else can cannabinoid - terpene interactions do?
Certain cannabis terpenes can help:
- dilate the capillaries in the lungs. This enables the vaped or smoked THC to enter the bloodstream more easily.
- increase skin permeability and facilitate better cannabinoid absorption, when applied topically for skin conditions. An example is Nerolidol, which is a sedative terpenoid.
Besides, cannabis terpenes and cannabinoid interactions can boost the potential benefits of cannabis while simultaneously reducing THC-induced anxiety.
Terpenes can act as a buffer against THC’s problematic psychoactive properties. Alpha-pinene for example can help counter the short-term memory loss linked with high THC levels.
Moreover, an additional factor that could enhance the entourage effect is that terpenes and cannabinoids hit different targets. The united action at those targets results in a better outcome. For example, terpenes and cannabinoids can attack inflammation at several different points in the body, resulting in overall reduced inflammation.
Can cannabis terpenes make you high?
No, terpenes cannot make you high on their own. Generally, if you isolate or extract terpenes from the cannabis sativa plant, you can still experience the aromatic smells and flavours associated with them. However, consuming these terpenes alone would not produce any psychoactive effects.
Uses of terpenes in different industries
Several industries make use of terpenes. They are readily used in aromatherapy. Moreover, fragrance industries add terpenes in colognes, perfumes, and other scented products.
Cannabis terpenes in the cannabis industry are utilized to:
- Enhance natural flavours and scent profiles of a particular strain
- Produce new flavour combinations when added to cannabis products
- Replace any terpenes lost during the plant extraction process
An example is the full- spectrum of cannabis extracts. The producers try their best to preserve the full terpene and cannabinoids contents of the raw plant, without altering them.
Fortune Flavours Organic CBD essential oil is full- spectrum. It contains a variety of useful terpenes and cannabinoids. All the compounds present in the Fortune Flavours CBD oil work in cohesion to bring you the complete benefits of the hemp plant.
You can check out all the full-spectrum cbd products at the Fortune Flavours Shop.
When cannabis terpenes content work in tandem with cannabinoids, the entourage effect can enhance the potential health benefits of the cannabis sativa plant.
There is anecdotal evidence that taking THC and CBD together with terpenes is more effective than taking pure isolates. However, more scientific research is still needed to prove these claims.
If you liked reading this, be sure to check our other blog: Do CBD Flowers Have THC?
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