"Cannabis is the single most versatile herbal remedy, and the most useful plant on Earth. No other single plant contains as wide a range of medically active constituents."
~Dr Ethan Russo
Cannabinoid Research Institute
HOW CANNABIS WORKS PART 3: TERPENES
Predominant Terpenes Found in Cannabis
MYRCENE| LIMONENE | BORNEOL | CARYOPHYLLENE | CINEOLE/EUCALYPTOLl | DELTA3CARENE | LINOLOOL | PINENE-ALPHA | PULGON |SABINENE | TERPINEOL | P-CYMENE |
ß-myrcene aka Myrcene
Boiling point: 166-168*C / 330.8-334.4 degree Fahrenheit
Myrcene is abundant in mangos and also found in hops, lemon grass, bay, verbena, and mercia. It creates aromas with clove-like, earthy, green-vegetative, fruity, citrus and minty nuances. It is often used in the perfume industry due to its appealing fragrance. .
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis and significant concentrations occur in the resin of most cannabis Indica varieties. In a Swiss Study, one strain tested (Lovrin 110) contained over 65% myrcene. In some countries myrcene is used as a sleep aid due to its sedative qualities. It is believed the properties of myrcene, rather than the actions of THC, are responsible for the couch-lock effect associated with certain cannabis Indica strains.
Myrcene is a synergist of THC and a combination of the two molecules produces a stronger experience than THC alone. It modulates the binding of cannabinoids to receptor sites and affects the permeability of the cell membranes. This allows more THC to reach brain cells. It also reduces paranoia and mitigates other unpleasant effects sometimes encountered by some inexperienced cannabis users.
Sedative * Hypnotic * Analgesic (Painkiller) * Muscle Relaxant * Anti-depressant * Antiseptic * Antibiotic * AChE inhibitor * Antioxidant * Antimalarial * Anti microbial * Anti carcinogen * Anti-inflammatory
High Myrcene Cannabis Strains:
Pure Kush * El Nino * Himalayan Gold * Skunk #1 * White Widow * Lovrin 110
Boiling Point: 350.6 degrees Fahrenheit/177 degrees Centigrade
Limonene is abundant in citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, tangerine and grapefruit. It is also found in tropical fruit rinds as well as rosemary, juniper and peppermint as well as many flowers. It is a common ingredient in cosmetics and natural health products, especially those for heart burn and acid reflux relief.
Limonene is the 2nd most common terpene found in Cannabis. It has been found to synergistically promote the absorption of other terpenes by making cell membranes more permeable. Currently, Limonene is undergoing tests to study its ability to prevent or treat breast cancer. It is also being studied for use as an anti depressant. When expressed alongside other terpenes, limonene is a potent anti-fungal and anti-cancer agent.
It is believed to protect against aspergillus fungi and may help protect patients with compromised immune systems who inadvertently smoke poorly cured, or spoiled, moldy cannabis. It may also offset the risk of carcinogens inhaled in cannabis smoke.
Anxiolytic (fights anxiety * Anti-depressant * Antioxidant * Anti-bacterial * Anti-fungal * Anti-cancer agent * Treats acid reflux and heart burn * Fights acne * Monocyclic-terpenoid * Cannabinoid agonist * Immune potentiator * Increases Systolic Blood Pressure * Inhibits Aspergillus * Antimutagenic * Blocks Carcinogenic effects of Benz-alpha anthracene * Positive in clinical trial results for breast cancer protein effects * Oxidative Stress in Lymphomas.
High Limonene Cannabis Strains:
OG Kush * Super Lemon Haze * Jack the Ripper * Lemon Skunk.
Borneol is a major component of cannabis resin that can also be found in cinnamon and wormwood (Artemesia spp). It lends woody overtones and the fragrances of menthol, camphor and pine. In Chinese medicine herbs containing borneol are recommended for fatigue and overstress. Borneal is mentioned to be a calming sedative in Chinese medicine. It is also used for fatigue, recovery from illness and stress.
Antibiotic * Sedative *Analgesic * Anti-insomnia * Anti-septic * Bronchodilator.
Haze strains such as K13 contain high amounts of borneol.
Caryophyllene, beta Caryophyllene, ß-caryophyllene, or Trans beta-caryophyllene
Chemical Formula: C15H24
Boiling Point: 489-495 Fahrenheit, 254–257 °C
Caryophyllene is found in varying amounts in almost all plants where it lends a hoppy, spicy, sweet, woody, clove, camphor, and peppery notes to their aromas. It is found in hops, cloves, basil, oregano, lavender, rosemary, and black caraway, but it occurs most abundantly in black pepper where it imparts pepper's characteristic spiciness.
Caryophyllene is a highly effective analgesiac and anti-inflammatory. It is the active constituent of clove oil, often used to relieve toothache pain. It is also found in muscle rubs and other topically applied pain relief preparations. If ingested in high enough amounts, caryophyllene acts as a calcium and potassium ion channel blocker. As a result, it impedes the pressure exerted by heart muscles.
Caryophyllene is highly concentrated in cannabis and represents a major component of cannabis resin, making up 3.8–37.5% of cannabis' essential oil. Is considered cannabinoid-mimetic because it is able to independently act upon the endocannabinoid system by weakly binding to CB2 receptors. It lacks psychoactive properties, however, a conclusion demonstrated by its inability bind to CB1 receptors.
A molecule closely related to Caryophyllene, Caryophyllene-epoxide is produced only by cannabis. It has the distinction of being the molecule police dogs are trained to find when seeking drugs. This is because THC does not have a smell, whereas Caryophyllene-epoxide is a very smelly compound.
Properties of Caryophyllene
Anti-inflammatory *Anti-anxiety * Anti-depressant * Analgesic * Febrifuge * Gastrointestinal protection * Antimalarial * Lowers Blood Pressure * Reduces Brain Swelling in Head Trauma
*In one study, soil grown cannabis was found to contain 33% caryophyllene while hydroponically grown only contained .07% caryophyllene.
Boiling point: 384.8 degrees Fahrenheit/176 degrees C
Cineole/eucalyptol is found in rosemary and eucalyptus. It confers a spicy, camphor, refreshing, minty aroma sometimes used as a cooking spice and a fragrance. It is also used in a variety of products such as cough suppressants and mouthwash. Eucalyptus oil is considered centering, balancing and stimulating. They are often used in topical preparations used to increase circulation, and reduce pain and swelling when applied topically. When its vapors are inhaled it eases congestion. It easily crosses the blood-brain-barrier to trigger fast olfactory reaction.
The content of cineole can vary tremendously depending upon variety of Cannabis in question, but it is often a major component of the essential oil. Its ready ability to cross the blood/brain barrier and enables available cannabinoids to cross more readily as well.
Cineole/eucalyptol provides an uplifting effect in oral or smoked Cannabis. It is reported to noticeably increase mental focus and physical energy and may convey the stimulating and thought provoking part of the cannabis smoke stream. This terpene, and possibly others like it, are suspect as the cause for the reported difference in effect noted between the more uplifing sativa strains and the more sedative indica strainswhen they otherwise display similar cannabinoid profiles.
AChE inhibitor * Increases cerebral blood flow * Stimulant * Antibiotic * Antiviral * Antiinflammatory * Antinociceptive
Super Silver Haze
*Eucalyptol is typically found in cannabis in very small amounts. An analysis of super silver haze showed .06% eucalyptol.
Boiling point: 334 - 336 °F/168 to 169 °C
Delta3Carene is flavinoid and pytosterol and a constituent of rosemary, pine and cedar resin. It conveys a sweet, piney, cedar, woodsy, and pungent aroma. Cypress oil, high in D-3-carene, is used in aroma therapy to dry excess fluids such as tears, running noses, excess menstrual flow and perspiration.
As component of cannabis, It is thought to be at least partially responsible for the dry eyes and mouth ( "cotton mouth") experienced by some cannabis users.
the dry mouth and eye problems that are common side effects of the use of cannabis.
Anti-inflammatory * Drying
A research study examined 162 marijuana plants, which represented over 80 strains. They detected carene in many of the samples.
Boiling point: 198*C / 388.4 degree Fahrenheit
Linolool, found most abundantly in lavender, conveys floral (spring flowers), lily, citrus and candied spice aromas to plants. It is an anxioltic (anti-anxiety) compound that possesses sedative properties. It is also a strong anticonvulsant. One of its activities in the body is to amplify serotonin-receptor transmission, creating an anti-depressant effect. When used in topically applied preparations, linalool is able to heal acne and skin burns without scarring.
Linalool is a major component of both cannabis and lavender oils. One strain, Amnesia Haze, has been found to contain slightly over 1% linalool. Linalool is believed to convey many of the anti-anxiety and sedative properties of cannabis. Strains that are high in linalool and similar compounds may be particularly beneficial for patients with insomnia and sleep deprivation.
Sedative * Antidepressant * Anti-inflammatory * Anxiolytic * Helps modulate motor movements * Immune potentiator * Anti-tumor effects * Potentiates Paclitaxel * Suppresses Aspergillus Flaus Mycelial growth and Aflatoxin production.
High Linalool Cannabis Strains:
G-13 * Amnesia Haze * Lavender * LA Confidential
Boiling point: 156*C / 312.8 degree Fahrenheit
α-Pinene (essential pine oil) is the most common terpene expressed by plants and is often found in cannabisIt is found in many species of coniferous trees, including pine trees and pine needles. It is also found in dill, parsley, rosemary, basil, yarrow, rose, hops, sage and eucalyptus. As one would expect by its name, Pinene confers a Christmasy, out-doorsy aroma reminiscent of pine trees and pine resins, to plants.
Pinene is the major component in pine oil/ pine-extracted solvent, turpentine. It is also an ingredient in many topical antiseptics. Pinene is also used as an expectorant and bronchodilator. It is found in cannabis in smaller amounts and is likely a major factor in strains of cannabis reputed to be "expando weed" (the smoke that just seems to expand in your lungs).
Pinene is known to be good for mental focus and memory. It's copious presence in rosemary and sage is what enables their reputations for increasing memory. It can also alertness and energy.
The skunk-like odors of certain strains of cannabis are created by analogs of this terpene. All this is a result of its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit the activity of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme which catalyzes the break down certain choline esters that function as neurotransmitters and stimulate these cognitive effects. Pinene's action may even counteract THC’s tendency to create low acetylcholine levels, which is what produces the short-term memory impairment experienced by many cannabis users.
Anti-inflammatory * Bronchodilator (at low levels) * Stimulant * Antibiotic * Aids memory * Anti-neoplastic * AChE inhibitor
High Pinene Cannabis Strains:
Jack Herer * Chemdawg * Bubba Kush * Trainwreck * Super Silver Haze
*One study that examined 16 cannabis strains found all contained notable amounts of alpha-pinene and beta-pinene.
Boiling Point: 224 degrees Fahrenheit/435.2 degrees Celsius
Pulegone is found in a number of plants including catnip, peppermint and pennyroyal. It conveys the aromas of peppermint, camphor, rosemary, and candy to plants. It is used in flavoring agents, in perfumery, and in aromatherapy. It is implicated in liver damage in very high dosages. It is found in tiny quantities in marijuana. Pulegone is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. That is, it stops the action of the protein that destroys acetylcholine, which is used by the brain to store memories.
Memory booster, AChE inhibitor, Sedative, Antipyretic
Boiling Point: 325 to 327 ° degrees Fahrenheit/163 to 164 ° degrees Centigrate
Sabinene - Found in oak trees, tea tree oil, black pepper and is a major constituent of carrot seed oil. Sabinene is one of the chemical compounds that contributes to the spiciness of black pepper and is a major constituent of carrot seed oil. It also occurs in tea tree oil at a low concentration. It is also present in the essential oil obtained from nutmeg and the shrub Clausena anisata
Boiling point: 422.6-424.4 degrees Fahrenheit/217-218 degrees Celceius
Terpineol is found in lilacs, citrus, apple and orange blossoms, limes, other citrus fruits and cannabis resin. A minor component of many plant essential oils, it is often used in soaps and perfumes for its delicate clove-like fragrance. Terpenol is frequently found in cannabis along with pinene, a combination which serves to mask it’s odor.
Terpenol can cause drowsiness and an urge to "chill out". It can be useful for patients who need a sedative or suffer from sleep issues. Studies show this terpene decreases motility of lab rats by 45 percent. This observation coupled with the fact that this terpene is primarily produced in cannabis Indica plants strongly suggests that terpineol could play a role in “couch lock”. The strongly sedative effects of some varieties, such as Afghan, are likely the result of the sedative effects of terpenol.
Antioxidant * Sedative * Antibiotic * AChE Inhibitor * Antimalarial
Afghan * Jack Herer * Jack crossbreeds.
Alpha Bisabolola aka Levomenol
Boiling Point: 307 °Fahrenheit/153 °C
Alpha bisabolol is the primary terpene in German chamomile. It is also found in cannabis in small amounts. Bisabolol has a weak sweet floral aroma that is used in various fragrances. It is also used in cosmetics due to its wound and skin healing abilities.
Wound healing * Fights bacteria * deodorizes * Anti-inflammatory
The Medicinal and Psychoactive effects of the cannabis plant can not be explained by THC and other cannabinoids alone. Terpenes, flavonoids and alkaloids, produced in varying amounts by different strains of cannabis, interact synergistically with one another and with plant cannabinoids to produce the unique chemical make-up that create the Healing Properties of organic Cannabis.
Terpenes are volatile organic compounds (composed of hydrogen and carbons) which are produced within the majority of plants. They are expressed most abundantly in plants that emit thick, pungent or pleasing aromas. These compounds are the building blocks of the plant's essential oils, saps and resin. They are also components of plant pigments such as chloropyll, vitamins such as vit. E and beta-carotene, plus antioxidants, hormones and steroids. Flavonoids are similar agents that contribute to the distinctive flavors of plants. It is no coincidence that plants with healing properties, including cannabis, are so often highly aromatic and strongly flavored. The same compounds that express scent, color and flavor also give expression to the healing potentials of the plant. Essential oils, are a prime example of this.
Terpenes are the primary healing agents in essential oils, salves, tinctures, poultices, teas, tonics and combutsibles from moxa and smudge sticks to tobacco and cannabis.
It is natural that we should follow up a study of plant cannabinoids with a discussion on terpenes because terpenes are the primary healing agents in most essential oils, salves, tinctures, poultices, teas, and tonics as well as combustibles such as moxa, sage smudge sticks and cannabis. While THC and the other cannabinoids are often the focus when it comes to cannabis' efficacies, the full medicinal and psychoactive effects of cannabis cannot be explained by their actions alone. Rather, an interplay exists between cannabinoids and these other active agents of the plant.
While researchers recognize that further dynamics are involved in cannabis' medicinal and psychoactive properties, a great deal of study is still required in order to identify and understand their intricacies . What we already know for sure is that cannabinoids and terpenes are closely related and both are primary components of the plant's resin. The resin composition is approximately 20% terpenes and 50% cannabinoids by weight. Some of these cannabinoids, THC among them, are also classified as terpenoid substances. This is because these particular cannabinoids share a biochemical precursor, Geranyl pyrophosphate, with their terpenoid cousins.
It should come as no surprise that the aromatic compounds responsible for the alluring aromas (and tastes) of cannabis also modulate its effects. . Many users evaluate a potential cannabis purchase by examining the buds for surface crystals or trichomes (where terpenes and cannabinoids are brewed) and then squeezing the bud to release its aroma and sniffing. Any stoner can tell you, the skunkier smelling the bud, the more potent it is. What may come as a surprise here is that THC, along with the other cannabinoids, are odorless!
For many years, wide acclaim was given to THC as the main active, or at the very least, psychoactive, element of cannabis. More recently, CBD has been touted as the miracle healer in cannabis. This is too narrow a focus and it totally misses the true key to understanding the healing potentials and psychoactive properties of cannabis. Laboratory studies indicate that neither isolated nor synthetic cannabinoids can impart the full range of effects and benefits produced by whole plant cannabis or cannabis resin.
An average of 120 to 200 terpenes can be manufactured within the individual cannabis plant, however, only a small minority have actually been studied for their pharmacological effects. In 1977, the Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture conducted such a study, entitled: “Essential oil of Cannabis sativa L. strains”. This study described the characteristics of sixteen terpenes found in cannabis resin. They found Myrcene was the most abundantly expressed terpene in cannabis. Alpha-pinene, Limonene, trans-Caryophyllene and Caryophyllene Oxide were also well represented .
In 2008, Swiss scientist Jürg Gertsch found that the terpenoid Beta-caryophyllene acts as an agonist with binding affinity for CB2 receptor sites. Thus far, it is the only terpenoid known to directly activate cannabinoid receptors but future research may reveal other terpenes able to bind with receptors.
While the pharmaceutical modality is to isolate compounds into drugs, when it comes to cannabis this is clearly not right approach. It is the synergystic effect of all the plant constituents working together-- known as the entourage effect-- that is the most potent and effective means of utilizing the full complement of cannabis benefits. When certain terpenes and cannabinoids are present in combination with one another, the terpenes facilitate the actions of the cannabinoids. For instance, terpenes alter the permeability of both cell membranes and the blood/brain barrier. This potentiates the actions of THC and other active cannabinoids by allowing them to absorb more quickly and thoroughly. Certain other terpenoids dilate capillaries in the lungs; this enables the active compounds in smoked or vaporized cannabis to enter the bloodstream more easily. In addition, terpenes can modulate the production, movement and destruction of neurotransmitters seratonin and dopamine. The terpene Nerolidol, known for its sedative effects, can also act as a skin penetrant to facilitate cannabinoid absorption topically.
Every individual cannabis strain has a unique terpene profile. Terpenes account for the differences among phenotypes and create the differences that we recognize as Sativas, Indicas, Ruderalis, etc. Terpene distribution also expresses the genome as the individual nuances in appearance, flavor, aroma and effect among any of the approximately 700 different strains of cannabis in cultivation today. They also express the minor differences among individual plants of the same strain. The complexities of these various compounds are yet largely unknown but it is clear that terpenes not only play a major role in the subtle differences between cannabis strains but also in how each strain can best be used medicinally (or recreationally).
We are still very much in the infancy of our understanding of the therapeutic potential of cannabis so it isvery important as we move forward in our research and policy making that we not hold some cannabinoids in higher esteem than others--as has become the trend with regards to CBD. Considering the innumerable active compounds found within cannabis, the narrow approach of isolating cannabinoids and/or terpenes could dilute the effectiveness of cannabis as medicine and leave a lot of ailing patients without viable medical solutions. Hence, it is vital that medical cannabis users retain access to properly cured, whole-plant cannabis, either as buds or as untainted concentrates such as keif, or pressed trichome hash,
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, often referred to as the "Father of Marijuana Research" puts it perfectly: "Considering the overwhelming majority of the components in cannabis have yet to be fully studied and understood, it seems downright ridiculous to think that any one cannabinoid will provide all the medicinal benefits that cannabis has to offer."