What are terpenes
I realize this isn't exactly the prettiest webpage in the world but it's important to state the research in black and white. You will often hear me reference Terpenes when talking about the "secret" ingredient in my candles. That's because Terpenes are an intriguing organic compound found in Cannabis that have the ability to alter the effects THC. To be blunt, Terpenes are the future and many Cannabis testing labs are now paying closer attention to the types of terpenes found in strains as opposed to simply zoning in on the overall THC levels. You see, it's not just THC (Delta - 9 - Tetrahydrocannabinol) that give Cannabis strains their therapeutic attributes -THC may be the main psychoactive ingredient but it relies on Terpenes to determine how its effects are played out in humans. Many have coined this relationship between THC & Terpenes as the entourage effect.
For example, if you have two strains that have an identical 20% THC profile but one strain contains high amounts of Linalool (Terpene) and the other has high amounts of Limonene (Terpene) they will likely give you two different effects. The strain that contains Linalool might come off as sedative whereas the strain that contains Limonene would be more uplifting. Same THC content, different results.
Currently, Terpenes and their relationship with THC are a fairly new discovery. It's likely that as time rolls on we will discover new and exciting benefits to Terpenes as well as how they can be applied towards patients and their preferred results when using Cannabis.
For now, we know this:
A recent Carlini et al study demonstrated that there may be potentiation (a form of synaptic plasticity that is known to be important for learning and memory) of the effects of THC by other substances present in cannabis. The double-blind study found that cannabis with equal or higher levels of CBD and CBN to THC induced effects two to four times greater than expected from THC content alone.
This suggestion was reinforced by a study done by Wilkinson et al to determine whether there is any advantage in using cannabis extracts compared with using isolated THC. As far as some actions of cannabis were concerned (e.g. anti-spasticity), THC was the active constituent, which might be modified by the presence of other components. However, for other effects (e.g. anticonvulsant properties) THC, although active, might not be necessary for the observed effect. Above all, these results demonstrated that not all of the therapeutic actions of cannabis herb is due to the THC content.
Dr. Ethan Russo further supports this theory further with scientific evidence by demonstrating that non-cannabinoid plant components such as terpenes serve as inhibitors to THC’s intoxicating effects, thereby increasing THC’s therapeutic index. This “phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy,” as Russo calls it, increases the potential of cannabis-based medicinal extracts to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy and even cancer.