Terpenes are a hydrocarbon (a compound made of hydrogen and carbon) that is found in cannabis. There are actually around 140 different terpenes found in cannabis in varying concentrations, and the exact effects of them vary. Different terpenes have different aromas, and there is some evidence to suggest that the different aromas are indicative of the effect that the particular terpene will have on the mind and body.
Terpenes can have an impact on the way that a dab affects you. Some terpenes increase the amount of CBD And THC that can pass across the blood-brain barrier, for example, which can increase the feeling of being “couchlocked” while under the effects of THC. Some, such as dabs that are rich in pinene (which is a pine or rosemary-smelling compound), are sometimes refered to as ‘study dabs’ because they help with memory retention and recall.
While terpenes are naturally present in cannabis, they can denature easily. Some people have taken to extracting terpenes and then infusing the extract into wax. This can increase the potency of the dab, but the practice is not mainstream yet because of the difficulty in getting high quality terpene extract.
There are a many different kinds of terpenes, but some are more desirable than others. Myrcene, for example, is the most common one, and it has some powerful medicinal properties in addition to just making people feel “more stoned,” it is a powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory, and it has some antibiotic effects as well.
Pinene, as previously mentioned, is known as a study aid because of its powerful concentration enhancing effects. It is also a bronchodilator and an anti-inflammatory. Some people believe that pinene can reduce the effects of THC, making it useful if you want the medicinal effects of the dab, but are not particularly interested in getting a strong high.
Limonene is one of the compounds that can be formed from pinene, and it has a strong citrus-like smell. Strains of cannabis that are high in limonene are thought to help improve people’s mood and attitude. In the plant itself, it is thought to be a natural form of insecticide.
Caryophyllene has a peppery, woody aroma. It is the only terpene that is known to interact with CB2 receptors, and it is currently the subject of research because it is thought that it could be used in cancer treatments. It is not psychoactive, but it is an anti-inflammatory. The recent Fine/Rosenfeld pain study suggests that it could be used to help treat chronic pain with minimal side-effects.
Linalool has floral/lavender undertones, and it is calming and relaxing. Throughout history it has been used as a sleep aid, and some people use it as a way to reduce the anxiety that some people suffer following exposure to THC. Linalool can help to boost the immune system, and help to restore cognitive and emotional function, which means that some people use it in the management of Alzheimer’s.
Camphene has a pungent, woody odor, and it is thought to be valuable as a treatment for certain cardiovascular diseases, especially helping with lipid management for people who do not tolerate more traditional medications.
There are many other terpenes to choose from, each of which has its own distinctive aroma and its own flavour and effects. Some are medicinal, some are more recreational. The impact is something that scientists are researching now, in the hopes of finding that they are useful for people who are suffering from chronic pain or other medical conditions. In the long term, who knows what we might uncover.