What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabis plants contain more than 120 active chemical substances called cannabinoids, each with unique properties that offer different physiological and therapeutic effects.
The two most well-known cannabinoids are:
The primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis, known for its euphoric effects, commonly referred to as a “high.” THC can promote a sense of relaxation, but also can affect your vision, hearing and sense of taste and smell. THC also helps relieve nausea and vomiting and provides stress relief.
A non-psychoactive compound that doesn’t produce a “high,” but is known for other health benefits, such as reducing pain and nausea and preventing seizures. CBD provides relaxation and can help provide relief from convulsions, inflammation, anxiety, nausea and some ailments. It’s ideal for patients seeking therapeutic relief little to no psychoactive effects.
Other cannabinoids – including cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) and cannabigerol (CBG) – have been found to ease symptoms and side effects for a number of other physical and emotional conditions, including pain, nausea, seizures, muscle stiffness, inflammation from arthritis and autoimmune diseases, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and ALS.
What's the difference between marijuana and hemp?
Marijuana and hemp both come from the same plant genus, cannabis, a member of the Cannabaceae family of plants. They even look and smell alike. The main difference is the amount of THC, the psychoactive substance in cannabis, found in each.
- Hemp contains only small amounts of THC – less than 0.3 percent of total dry weight. (By law, cannabis plants with more than 0.3 percent THC are classified as marijuana.)
- Marijuana typically has THC levels of 5 to 30 percent of total dry weight.
Both types of plants also produce cannabidiol or CBD, however the CBD that comes from hemp has little to no THC while CBD extracted from marijuana has varying percentages of THC and is typically used for therapeutic purposes.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes or terpenoids are the organic compounds that produce the fragrance and flavor for cannabis and other types of plants and fruits, from citrus fruits to pine trees.
Terpenes also play an important role in determining the effect – and effectiveness – of different strains of cannabis. Each strain of cannabis has a unique scent and flavor profile, based on the different combinations of terpenes found within those strains. More than 100 individual terpenes are associated with various strains of cannabis. Each terpene has specific medicinal properties that combine with other terpenes as well as the THC and CBD within specific strains to produce unique physiological and therapeutic effects.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The synergy between terpenes, CBD and THC that produces an array of distinct effects is known as the Entourage Effect. Terpenes are an all-natural substance that can be used to enhance the flavor and effect of your favorite medicines. Contact the Slater Center to learn more.
Common Terpenes and Their Therapeutic Benefits
These are some terpenes commonly found in medical cannabis:
A spicy compound found in cannabis and numerous food plants including black pepper, cinnamon and clove, these terpenes are best known for their anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce pain and prevent seizures. They also may help with anxiety, depression and stress.
Also found in geraniums, roses and some citrus rinds, citronellol is a common component of essential oils and perfumes, as well as insect repellents. But it also is known for its antimicrobial, antifungal, antispasmodic and anticonvulsant properties and may help enhance emotional and physical health.
This earthy, woody terpene that gives beer its hoppy aroma and taste also contributes to the unique scent of cannabis. It is known for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties and as an appetite suppressant. It also has been used in essential oils for healing purposes dating back centuries.
Known for its strong odor and bitter taste, limonene is a compound found in the peels of citrus fruits and other plants. It has long been used as a component of medicines to promote weight loss and help with bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. It may also help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
A simple terpene best known for its pleasant floral odor, especially in lavender plants and flowering trees, linalool is a major component of essential oils most commonly used to promote sleep and reduce anxiety. Linalool also has anticonvulsant properties that may help with epilepsy and seizures.
One of the most common terpenes, myrcene is found in a variety of fragrant plants including mango, eucalyptus, lemongrass and more. It is said to have anti-inflammatory, antianxiety and pain-relieving qualities. It also is known to hasten and heighten the effects of THC.
This aromatic compound found in pine needles, orange peels, rosemary, basil and other spices has anti-inflammatory properties and can serve as a bronchodilator to help with respiratory issues. It also may help with pain and anxiety and is known to improve alertness and combat short-term memory issues associated with THC.
With its woody aroma with hints of citrus and herbal spices, terpinolene is commonly found in tea trees, conifers, apples, cumin, sage and lilac. In cannabis, it’s known primarily for its antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It also has sedative properties that could help with insomnia, anxiety and other conditions.