Terpenes: How the interactive synergy of compounds in cannabis creates the entourage effect

In the second of our three-part series, we discuss whole plant medicine and share three additional terpenes that are common in cannabis

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To read the first story in this series, click here.

You know that delicious, skunky aroma you get every time you crack open a jar of cannabis? That's thanks to important compounds in the plant called terpenes.

These compounds, which are responsible for the distinct tastes and smells we associate with certain plants, play a much larger role in the experience of using cannabis than you might think.

In part one, we told you that understanding the healing properties associated with certain terpenes is crucial in knowing how a cultivar of cannabis might affect the body. 

We also mentioned that, when tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other compounds in cannabis interact with terpenes, each compound is at its most effective. Doctors have dubbed this synergy between compounds as 'the entourage effect'.

While research has shown that individual compounds in cannabis can be effective for certain conditions, different compounds offer different medicinal properties. As such, patients might lose out on some of the benefits when they use cannabis-derived products that only utilize a single compound.

Whole plant medicine, on the other hand, combines these properties and can help to treat a wide range of symptoms and conditions with more efficacy. While smoking and vaporizing flowers are still the most common ways to utilize the whole plant, more and more manufacturers in the cannabis realm are creating oils and distillates that are infused with terpenes to help patients reap the benefits they provide as well.

While scientists have found around 200 different terpenes in cannabis, we'll be sticking to the most noseworthy. Here are three more to try and identify next time you stop in at your local dispensary.

Caryophyllene can be found in high concetrations in spices like black pepper.
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Beta Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene comes in two forms, but the one we'll be discussing is beta caryophyllene. This terpene can be found in high quantities in spices like black pepper, clove, and cinnamon, as well as herbs like basil and rosemary. 

Cultivars with high amounts of this terpene include OG Kush, Chemdawg, and Rockstar, among others. (Remember from our last story that terpenes vary depending on a number of factors.)

Beta caryophyllene is anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antibacterial, and also supports brain function. It's currently one of the most heavily researched terpenes because of the promise its shown in treating certain conditions.

You'll find bisabolol in chamomile flowers.
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Bisabolol

Sometimes referred to as levomenol, bisabolol can be found in cannabis, as well as plants like the chamomile flower and the candeia tree. It's known for its floral scent and is used often in fragrances and cosmetics. 

You'll likely find bisabolol in varieties of cannabis including ACDC, Master Kush, and and Headband, just to name a few.

Researchers have found it to be anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and analgesic. Like beta caryophyllene, it also supports brain function.

Humulene occurs naturally in hops.
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Humulene

Beer lovers and cannabis users might have more in common than they think: Both hops and cannabis are high in this terpene, which can also be found in clove and basil.

Humulene has been found in higher quantities in White Widow, Girl Scout Cookies, and Headband, though we're sure you can find the subtle earthy aroma emitted by this terpene in other strains, too.

Researchers have found humulene to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-cancerous compound. Like another compound in cannabis, THCv, it's known to act as an appetite suppressant, which means it may have future applications in the areas of weight loss and diet.

Take it from us: A variety of cannabis that's high in humulene might not be your best bet if you're looking to "get the munchies".

The final installment in this three part series about terpenes runs next Saturday (August 12).

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