CANNABANOIDS & TERPENES
There are 538 naturally occurring chemical constituents identifiable within the cannabis plant. Among these are terpenoids, amino acid, proteins, sugars, enzymes, fatty acids, esters, and flavanoids. Eighty-five very special and unique terpeno-phenolic compounds are identified as cannabinoids, which are C21 compounds uniquely present in Cannabis. There are ten main types of cannabinoids, including THC, along with fourteen different cannabinoid subtypes.
Created within the resin of the plant, these "phyto-cannabioids" are able to influence the human body (and the bodies of all other animals possessing a brain and spinal cord) on a cellular level. They do so by interacting with "cannabinoid receptors". These are cellular switches widely distributed within in the brain, nervous system, immune system and reproductive organs. The chemical actions of cannabinoids on these receptor sites are responsible for the physical and psychoactive effects characteristic of cannabis.
The body produces its own "endocannabinoids" in the form of neurotransmitters such as anandamide, dopamine and norepinephrin. These naturally occuring chemical agents normally modulate cell receptors; their actions at these sites are vital to bio-regulation. When plant cannabinoids are introduced into the body, their presence is detected by cellular cannabinoid receptors which then respond to their presence. Each cannabinoid (THC, CBD, CBC etc.) targets different receptor sites in different ways and elicits varyious biological responses, yet they all act in concert with one another as far as effect is concerned, with each one either balancing or reinforcing the actions of the others.
Cannabinoids are created within the resin of the plant by single enzyme catalyzed reactions. Each cannabinoid has a corresponding enzyme that catalyzes its creation. CBN is the only known exception to this. The major known contributors to the actions of the cannabis plant within the body are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabichromene (CBC), and Cannabigerol (CBG). Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is a precursor to at least three of these: THC, CBD, and CBC.
Other, lesser cannabinoids, some of which have some medicinal relevancy or psychoactive affects include Cannabicyclol (CBL), Cannabivarin (CBV), Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), Cannabidivarin (CBDV), Cannabichromevarin (CBCV), Cannabigerovarin (CBGV) and Cannabigerol Monoethyl Ether (CBGM).
For a more detailed analysis on the way the major cannabinoids work and their affects on the body, please continue to our section on individual Cannabinoid Profiles:
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be expressed as either Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) or delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) with the major form being delta-9 THC. THC was first isolated by Israeli researchers Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni in 1969. To this day it remains the most studied and understood cannabinoid. THC is the most prominent compound found in the resin of the cannabis plant and can represents an average of 12-21% of total resin content. These numbers may be significantly higher in strains grown and bred for their psychoactive properties and significantly lower in strains grown for fiber. THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis; it is also believed by some to be the most medically active. However THCs phsychoactivity has led many researchers and medical professionals to prefer other cannabinoids (such as CBD) above THC for medical purposes.
THC begins in the plant as geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid. Through an enzyme process, these two substances are combined to form cannabagerolic acid or CGBA. CGBA is a precursor to several cannbinoids and may be independently converted to either CBG, CBDA, CBCA or THCA. These variants occur by four separate synthase, FAD-dependent dehydrogenase enzymes.
In order to become THC, CGBA is first catalyzed by an enzyme known as THCA synthase into tetrahydrocannabinol carboxilic acid (THCA). THCA begins as completely non-psychoactive substance, but that changes. As the cannabis plant cures and dries it looses carbon dioxide (CO2) and de-carboxylates into THC. When heat is applied to the dried plant matter, the remaining THCA is also transformed into THC. As it looses the extra CO2, the conformation of the molecule changes: the molecular chain folds over on itself to form rings and assume the familiar conformation of the THC molecule. This mechanism is what transforms non-psychoactive THCA into psychoactive THC. Exposure to strong UV light or alkaline conditions will also facilitate this transformation.
THCAs effects differ from those of THC both physically and psychoactively, it also contains its own medicinal properties. THCA is an immune system modulator and both THC and THCA mimic the neurotransmitter anandamide. This action plays a role in THCs ability to ease pain sensation, as well as treat memory loss and sleep disorders. THC is a neuro-protective substance which both reduces neuro-inflammation and stimulates neuro-genesis. The dense number of receptor sites in the hippocampus also helps THC protect spatial memories.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is a potent anti-inflammatory; 20 times more potent than aspirin and fifty percent more potent than cortisone. (D. Kosersky, et al). It also demonstrates marked antioxidant activity on a cellular level. There is growing evidence that orally ingested THC can help prevent heart attacks (but when cannabis compounds are inhaled through the lungs, cardiac risks are believed to accrue just as with cigarette smoking). When THC compounds are given prior to heart surgery they protect cardiac tissue against lasting post-surgical damage; when they are administered soon after a heart attack, infarction size is minimized.
A portion of THC's actions are actually a response to dopamine release stimulated by the presence of THC, rather than by the actions of THC itself. It is dopamine which actually creates the spaciness and euphoria so often associated with THC and the cannabis "high". Other of THC's effects arise from its ability to bind to CB1 receptors in the brain. However THC seems to have an equal affinity for either CB1 or CB2 receptors.
Patients who suffer from anxiety issues or have a pre-disposition to schizophrenia may wish to avoid cannabis strains high in THC; but they remain a good choice for patients who need to remain alert and active while also enjoying the medical benefits of cannabis therapy. This may at first seem counterintuitive; we are all familiar with stereotypical depictions of the forgetful, burned out stoner. But THCs activation of CB1 receptors actually improves learning abilities through a process known as "Long Term Potentiation". In addition, THC has been found to act as a regulator of Neuroplasticity (adult brain development) and even plays a role in the creation of new brain cells. THC has also been found to treat Tourette's Syndrome. (Muller-Vahl, et al, 1999)
As with several of the other cannabinoids, THCs most promising and exciting use arises from is its ability to destroy cancerous tumors while leaving healthy cells unaffected. (2007, Anju Preet and Harvard researches) It does so by attaching to receptors on the cancer cells and causing them to self destruct.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant compound found in the cannabis plant. Landrace strains, usually of Indica heritage, often contain the highest concentrations of CBD, probably due to the fact that growers of recreational strains usually aim for a higher concentration of THC. For this reason, strains containing high ratios of CBD became difficult to find. But they are making a comeback due to the medical efficacies of CBD. Cannabidiol shares the same chemical formula as THC (C21H30O2 ) but it has a different arrangement of atoms. CBD is sythesized in the plant through the same pathway as THC. It starts out as geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid which join through enzymatic reaction to form cannabagerolic acid or CGBA. This CGBA is then acted upon by the enzyme CBDA synthase to form cannabidiol carboxylic acid or CBDA. CBDA is essentially CBD, but with a carboxylic acid attached to its molecular chain. This extra carboxylic acid is very unstable and over time, will release from the molecule to form CBD. Application of heat will also facilitate this. The transformation from CBDA to CBD takes place at temperatures at around 80 degrees celsius/ 176 degrees fahrenheit. There is no evidence for enzymatic conversion of CBDA or CBD to either THCA or THC. Cannabidiol is the main cannabinoid in low-THC cannabis-hemp strains. It is not psychoactive and, until recently, was thought not to affect the psychoactivity of THC. However this has proven untrue. CBD has been found to actually reduce THCs psychoactive effects. It also counteracts some of the other effects of THC, like the “munchies.” CBD has demonstrated promising ability to suppresses appetite. As research continues, it will likely see development for weight loss in the future. Cannabidiols does not just reverse some of the actions of THC, it also has its own unique medicinal properties. CBDs antipsychotic effects promise many potential uses in the treatment of schizophrenia. Cannabidiols apparent lack of psychoactivity has induced some medical professionals to prefer it above THC for medical applications. Cannabidiol allays a wide variety of conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disorders and even schizophrenia. Many medical benefits of cannabis, that were in the past attributed to THC, have been discovered to actually result from cannabidiol. CBD has very strong anti-inflammatory properties. CBD immediately following a heart attack can reduce infarct size by about 66%. Not only does it reduce inflammation, it actually inhibits the body from creating the chemical compounds that induce inflammation. CBD has anti-convulsive properties as well and reduces the incidence of seizures in a number of patients. It also plays a major role in the sedative effect of cannabis-- but not all the time. Rather, it is bi-phasic. What this means is, at low doses CBD increases alertness and inhibits sleep, but at higher doses CBD has a marked sedative effect and induces sleep. Cannabidiol's ability to reduce anxiety, as well as its antidepressant and neuro-protective effects, are attributed to its agonist activity on serotonin receptors (5-HT1A) found throughout the central nervous system and which regulate of ATCH which is involved in the production of corticosteroids. Smokers of cannabis with a higher CBD to THC ratio were less likely to experience paranoia or schizophrenia-like symptoms than those who used cannabis high in THC alone. When CBD is administered to patients suffering discomforts from too large of doses of THC, it reduces the psychoactive effects of THC without reducing the amount of THC in the blood stream. It also reduces the effects of anadamide and plays a role in preventing the short-term memory loss sometimes associated with THC. But the most exciting action of CBD is its powerful inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, and tumor growth. Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center discovered CBD's ability to "turn off" the activity of ID1, the gene responsible for metastasis in breast cancer including the particularly aggressive triple negative breast cancer. It has a marked affect on other types of cancer as well. This is owing to CBCs unique ability to bind with receptors on cancer cells and cause the cells to self destruct, but without any damage to normal, healthy cells. Patients, who suffer from moderate to severe pain and other difficult to integrate physical symptoms, benefit from strains high in both THC and cannabidiol, such as "Sour Tsunami". Such strains have pronounced physical effect along with reduced psychoactive effects.
" Sour Tsunami"
Cannabinol (CBN) is a metabolite of THC which is found only in trace amounts in the cannabis plant, typically less than 1% of its resin content. The CBN molecule differs from the THC molecule in that it has no double bond isomers nor stereoisomers. Like most of the cannabinoids, CBN begins as geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid which join through enzymatic reaction to form cannabagerolic acid or CGBA. While the other cannabinoids are further synthesized by the plant using enzymes such as THCA synthase and CBDA synthase, cannabinol is not derived in this manner. Rather, cannabinol is the direct product of THC degradation and transforms from its acid form as unstable carbon atoms are released from the THC molecule. As the THC molecule looses CO2, the change causes the molecule to form the double bonds which transform it into CBN. Application of heat, such as when smoking or vaping cannabis, also facilitates this process beginning at about 140 degrees Celsius/284 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also formed as a result of extensive processing, such as when making concentrates.
Cannabinol is only moderately psychoactive and exhibits merely 10% of the psychoactivity of THC. It has a greater affinity for CB2 receptors, which allows it to affect the body more than the mind. However, when high THC and high CBN are found together, as can occur in high THC strains as they age, cannabinol’s effects are greatly increased. Very high CBN concentrations can produce undesirably strong effects in some users and is believed by researchers to increase the dizziness and disorientation some users of cannabis may experience. It may cause grogginess as well and has also been shown to reduce heart rate.
Cannabinol's double molecular bonds weaken its actions as an agonist of CB1 receptors. This reduced action is what produces the sedative effects of CBN. It also increases its anti-convulsive effects. CBN has been found to have both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It stimulates osteocytes, which are bone cells, and may stimulate new bone growth, giving it great potential as a treatment for osteoporosis. Inhibits skin cell formation giving it possible potential for treatment of psoriasis and other skin disorders. Research into the potentials of CBN continue. Because it is a somewhat selective CB2 receptor agonist, CBN has great potential as an immunosuppressant.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a completely non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It is not normally found in high amounts in cannabis strains grown for either medical or recreational purposes. However it displays much higher concentrations, as high as 94% CBG (with as little as 0.001% THC) in strains of cannabis grown for hemp fiber. At any given moment total cannabigerol concentration typically represents less than 10% of total resin content of the plant.
Many researchers regard Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) as the stem cell of cannabinoids; this is because it is essentially a “parent” or precursor to other cannabinoids. The reason CBG is never found in high amounts in the cannabis plant because as soon as it is created by the plant, synthases (natural enzymes) contained within the cannabis plant, break down CBGA and convert it to either CBC, CBD, THC or some of the other, minor cannabinoids.
Cannabigerol starts out as geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid, as do most other cannabinoids. These join together through enzymatic reaction to form cannabagerolic acid or CGBA. Further action results in the loss of the acid (OOH), converting it to just plain CBG. Cannabigerol features a long chain of carbon molecules. These are able to roll up upon themselves in different ways to form rings, this mechanism leads to its transformation into either CBDA synthase, THCA synthase, or CBCA synthase. Enzyme catalyzation transforms these into their neutral forms of either CBD, THC or CBC. In the case of CBG, whatever available enzymes are present at the moment of transformation become the decision makers as to which molecule it will form. If the plant makes a lot of CBDA synthase, then the CBGA in the plant will transform into CBD; if it makes a lot of THCA synthase, it will be converted into THC, and so forth. There is a means of adjusting for different levels of cannabinoids by altering the type and amount of enzymes that occur in the plant. This results through breeding and genetic manipulation.
In its isolated form, cannabigerol has been found to have great medical potential. In part because it is non-psychoactive, yet induces sleep. CBGs actions as an antagonist of the CB1-receptor, which affects the central nervous system enables it to, at least partially, counteract the paranoid, “heady” high typically associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBG appears to have an affinity for CB2-receptors, which allow it to influence the body more than the mind. However, researchers aren’t yet sure if CBG promotes or inhibits CB2-receptor activity.
Less is known about the medical affects of cannabigerol as opposed to THC or CBD because it naturally occurs in such small amounts and changes form so quickly and must be isolated in order to test it and to study its effects. However it appears to work synergistically with the other cannabinoids.
CBG displays anti-microbial and antibiotic properties. It is a very potent anti-inflammatory as well. Its ability to inhibit platelet aggregation, which slows the rate of blood clotting gives it interesting potential for counteracting hypercoagulability present in some severe cases of septicemia, acute hypotension, neoplasms, DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation), and following poisonous snakebites.
One of CBGs known actions is to inhibit uptake of GABA (γ-Aminobutyric acid or Gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. It determines how much stimulation a neuron needs to cause a reaction and plays the principal role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. GABA is also directly responsible for the regulation of muscle tone. Cannabigerol's inhibition of GABA results in its properties of muscle relaxation and its anti-anxiety effects. CBG also appears to share or promote many of the effects of CBD.
As with any of the cannabinoid acids, when CBGA is exposed to heat or prolonged UV light, it looses carbon dioxide (CO2) and assumes its neutral form of CBG. As already stated, CBGA is not typically found in high concentrations in the plant. However if a strain was high in CBGA, smoking or vaporizing it would transform it into cannabigerol (CBG).
Cannabichromene (CBC) is found much less abundantly than the other cannabinoids, often representing less than 1% of the plants resin content. CBC is not psychoactive. It is used as an "energy-storage" compound within the plant which is readily converted back to CBG if needed.
As with the other cannabinoids, CBC starts out in the plant as geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid which combine to form Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA). Through an enzyme catalyzed reaction, cannabigerolic acid folds over upon itself allowing its carbon atom to form a new attachment. This converts it into Cannabichromene carboxylic acid (CBCA). The carboxylic acid group attached to CBCA is unstable. Over time, or with the application of heat, it is released from the molecule leaving carbon dioxide in its place. Hence it transforms from CBCA to CBC.
Although cannabichromene arises through the same chemical pathway as THC and CBD and contains the same amounts of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, its molecular structure is different from either THC or CBD. Its atoms do not assume the same arrangement, the ring structure is different, and bonds occur in different places. In addition, Cannabichromene doesn't display the same folding in of its molecular chain.
Because it is less common to find significant amounts of cannabichromene in the plant as compared to either CBD or THC it is not as well studied and less is known about its affects. Its importance should not be overlooked, however. Not only does cannabichromene confer its own benefits, it seems to work with the other cannabinoids to produce a synergistic effect. For instance, when CBC occurs along with high-THC levels, cannabis becomes much more potent than found with a high THC level alone.
When isolated from the other compounds of cannabis, cannabichromene is completely non-psychotropic. However, in whole plant remedies it appears to works in concert with the other cannabinoids to enhance the psychoactive effects of THC. In addition, CBC appears to decrease clearance of THC from the body, while modestly increasing THC plasma concentrations, perhaps by interfering with THC metabolism in the liver. This allows for a higher level of THC available to receptors.
Cannabichromene effects both CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. Studies have demonstrated that CBC has sedative effects, promoting relaxation. It shares many of the anti-inflammatory properties of THC as well but they are not as strongly expressed. It also improves the pain-relieving effects of THC and has proven a successful remedy for migraines. In addition, research into cannabichromene's anti-depressant effects have found it ten times more effective than CBD. Cannabichromene has also been found to have both anti-fungal and antibacterial properties/effects. It is also believed to stimulate bone growth.
Lab studies indicate that CBC has anti-proliferative effects as well, meaning it inhibits the growth of cancerous tumors, especially breast cancer. This could be a result of its interaction with anandamide. CBC inhibits the uptake of anandamide, which allows it to stay in the blood stream longer and prolongs its positive effects.
Though tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV, THV), also known as tetrahydrocannabivarol is very similar to THC it does have a few minor chemical constituents. Firstly, it is a "propyl cannabinoid", meaning it has a three carbon side chain. Secondly, it has a different origin. THC and most of the other cannabinoids we are familiar with begin with cannabagerolic acid and olivetolic phosphate. In THCV geranyl pyrophosphate joins with divarinolic acid, which contains two less carbon atoms than olivetolic acid does. This results in cannabigerovarin acid (CBGVA). Through a further enzymatic process, utilizing THCVA synthase, cannabogeraveric acid (CBGVA) then further synthesizes to form THCVA. THCVA is very similar to THCV with the exception of one extra CH2 acid group. With application of heat, or the passage of time, THCVA will release its extra carbon to become THCV.
The psychoactive properties of Tetrahydrocannabivarin are similar to those of THC, but with slightly different effects and more of a psychedelic high.
THV has been shown to be a CB1 receptor antagonist similar to the internally produced CB1 antagonist, rimonabant. Tetrahydrocannabivarin has an atypical relationship with the CB1 receptor. At low doses it blocks cannabinoid receptors and appears to have an opposite effect of THC. At high doses it binds to the receptors and may enhance the effects of THC. Some studies have shown that when Tetrahydrocannabivarin blocks receptors it causes weight loss, decreased body fat and increased energy expenditure. It is also being investigated as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders. Finally, laboratory studies have also shown THV to have anti-convulsive properties as it appears to lower the seizure threshold in mice. In the laboratory, THV can be used as a marker for differentiating between THC from cannabis or synthetic forms of THC such as Marinol. More study of Tetrahydrocannabivarin is needed.
Synthetic cannabinoids are laboratory created analogs of certain endo- (internally produced) or phyto-(plant produced) cannabinoids. Novel synthetic cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor agonists gained popularity as illicit drugs in the late 2000s when they began being sold in herbal smoking blends as cannabis replacemen and are able to elicit a reaction from the particular receptor sites modulated by the cannabinoids they mimic. When synthetic cannabinoids occupy receptors they prevent the endocannabinoid that would normally fill the receptor from carrying out its actions. Their attachment to the receptor also cause conformational changes which activate the receptor. This results in protein channels opening within and between cells and with a chain of biological actions and reactions being initiated. The objection Trichome Labs has to synthetic cannabinoids is that they do not take into account the complex chemical balance designed by nature within each plant. We, at Trichome Labs, understand that the major compounds within cannabis must act and interact with one another in order to obtain the full benefits and medical potentials contained within the chemistry of the plant.
" Sour Tsunami"
- Dronabinol, Marinol - appetite stimulant, anti-emetic, analgesic. Nabilone, Cesamet & Canames are analogs of Marinol.
- Rimonabant, SR141716, Acomplia - anti-obesity, smoking cessation.
- JWH-018 - Often found in legal smoke blends known as "spice".
- JWH-073 - Analgesic; Also found in "spice".
- CP-55940 - Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist; is many times more potent than THC.
- Dimethylheptylpyran - sedative, anti-convulsive, similar effects to THC but many times stronger.
- HU-210 - anti-anxiety, anti-depressent, Alzheimer's disease; about 100 times more potent as THC.
- HU-331 - potential anti-cancer drug derived from CBD that specifically inhibits topoisomerase II.
- SR144528 - a CB2 receptor antagonist.
- WIN 55,212- a potent cannabinoid receptor agonist.
- JWH-133 - a potent selective CB2 receptor agonist.
- Levonantradol, Nantrodolum - anti-emetic, analgesic (not currently in use).
- AM-2201 - potent cannabinoid receptor agonist.
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."
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°F / 177°C
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
High Borneol Cannabis Strains:
Haze strains such as K13 contain high amounts of borneol.
Boiling Point: 489-495°F, 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.
Anti-inflammatory • Anti-anxiety • Anti-depressant • Analgesic • Febrifuge • Gastrointestinal protection • Antimalarial • Lowers Blood Pressure • Reduces Brain Swelling in Head Trauma
High Caryophyllene Cannabis Strains:
*In one study, soil grown cannabis was found to contain 33% caryophyllene while hydroponically grown only contained .07% caryophyllene
Boiling point: 384.8 °F / 176°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/168-169 °C
Δ3-Carene 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°F
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°F
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°F /435.2°C
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
A research study examined 162 marijuana plants, which represented over 80 strains. They detected carene in many of the samples.
Boiling Point: 325-327°F / 163-164°C
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
Memory booster, AChE inhibitor, Sedative, Antipyretic
A research study examined 162 marijuana plants, which represented over 80 strains. They detected carene in many of the samples.
Boiling point: 422.6-424.4°F /217-218°C
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
Boiling Point: 307 °F / 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