Terpenes are material that are found in many plants and even some insects. They are compounds that add flavor and scent to marijuana, as well as many health benefits. There are over 200 terpenes that are found in marijuana, and each one has a different effect and benefit. The purpose of terpenes found in marijuana from an evolutionary standpoint is to ward off bugs and other animals as well as prevent fungal infection. Modern science has shown that these terpenes can give positive effects to humans as well.
The terpenoid profile varies from strain to strain of marijuana. Some strains may have a terpenoid called Beta-caryophyllene, which has been found by scientists to be gastro-protective, good for treating certain ulcers, as well as being a therapeutic compound for inflammatory conditions and auto-immune disorders because it binds directly to the peripheral cannabinoid receptor known as “CB2.” There may exist a synergistic effect between Beta-caryophyllene and other terpenes and cannabinoids, which could result in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities.
Terpenes are the major components of resin, and of turpentine produced from resin. The name “terpene” is derived from the word “turpentine”. In addition to their roles as end-products in many organisms, terpenes are major biosynthetic building blocks within nearly every living creature. Due to this there is a pressing need for more research into the way terpenes work within the entourage effect. Medical marijuana is a potent medicine, we could see a day where the entourage effect is fully investigated to the point where every ailment can be combated just by ingesting a certain ratio of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC and terpenes such as Beta-caryophyllene.
The role terpenes play in marijuana is vastly understated and needs to be explored further by science. Not only do they contribute to the smell and taste of marijuana, they also contribute to the entourage effect, which means that they combine with cannabinoids in a synergistic way when consumed. The effects of this could lead to developments in medicine, scientists are quickly discovering the extent of the roles that terpenes play in combating various conditions and diseases. As marijuana laws become more lax researchers will be able to investigate the effects of terpenes and cannabinoid when consumed by humans, and hopefully someday discover exactly which terpenes are beneficial for combating various ailments.