Let’s take a moment to re-hash our topic—terpenes! The essential oils that create the familiar scent that fills your nose when you open your jar of Sour Diesel, and maybe even makes your mouth water.

Terpenes are the tiny white follicles found on the cannabis plant

The compounds are inhaled through the nose and transported to the hypothalamus in the limbic brain, which controls heart rate, blood pressure, hunger, and thirst. Terpene test results are broken down by each terpene as a percentage of the total terpene profile (i.e., some percentage out of 100%). There are hundreds of terpenes and countless combinations; each combination carrying a unique set of characteristics working to unlock your bodies cannabinoid receptors like a key.

An “herban” legend rumors that eating a Mango before smoking cannabis would get you “higher”. This sounds like a delicious myth and current research suggest there is some truth to this after all. It turns out that Mangos contain a high percentage of the compound β-Myrcene, which “…has been shown to allow more absorption of cannabinoids by the brain, by changing the permeability of cell membranes. Eating a fresh mango 45 minutes before smoking could increase the effects”, Steep Hill Lab states.

β–Myrcene gets its name from a medicinal shrub from Brazil, the Myrcia sphaerocarpa, which contains very high amounts of β–Myrcene. According to many sources, extracts of the roots have been used there to treat hypertension, diabetes, diarrhea, and dysentery. β-Myrcene plays an important role forming other terpenes, and is found in small amounts of nearly every essential oil and plant. About half of Choice Organics strains tested at 50% β–Myrcene or higher. Afgooey made the loudest statement at 85%. β–Myrcene’s smell can be hypnotic, and it can relax your muscles, and act as a sedative with anti-inflammatory properties. It is naturally found in high concentrations in lemongrass, hops, thyme, citrus, and of course, mango.

As you can see with Myrcene, each terpene plays a unique and harmonious role in the effect you feel. Pinene makes up 10% of Afgooey’s terpene profile and provides the crucial biosynthetic base of our endocannabinoid system—CB2 receptors. Terpenes help amplify the effects of cannabinoids. Pinene helps to build the biosynthetic base and β-Myrcene permeates the cell membranes, both helping with the uptake of potent cannabinoids. All of Choice Organics’ strains tested at 6% to 35% Pinene. This makes sense because α-Pinene and β-Pinene are the most common terpenes in plants. It is a bronchodilator, which helps open respiratory pathways in the lungs and is great for those with asthma or chronic lung problems. Like many terpenes, Pinene is an anti-inflammatory so it may help with most aches and pains as well.  It also promotes awareness and memory retention, which is surprising because some cannabis properties will make you forget you just ate a whole bag of Cheetos and two slices of cake.

Another terpenoid that is growing a reputation quickly is β-Caryophyllene, and it’s not because of the length of its name. It is very effective for pain relief, and it has an affinity for the CB2 receptor, similarly to CBD. Since β-Caryophyllene is absorbed by the endocannabinoid system it is known as a “phytocannabinoid”, meaning it acts as a cannabinoid but it is not. Black pepper has high concentrations of β-Caryophyllene, and is a strong anti-inflammatory and has pain-relieving effects. Green, leafy vegetables also have great amounts of β-Caryophyllene. While Pinene builds our endocannabinoid receptors, Myrcene is permeating the cell walls to increase absorption, and β-Caryophyllene activates the CB2 receptors, all increasing efficacy of your cannabinoids. So in theory, these terpenes don’t make you feel high, but they do help to increase the absorption of your cannabinoids, and in turn, you will feel a better effect on your cannabis.

Variety of Terpenes found in Cannabis 

Toking Tips: Terpenes act on our limbic system through inhalation. According to our on-site Aromatherapist, Lori Reeves, research in essential oils shows that the boiling point changes the effects of terpenes. Lighters burn around 2,000°F. At that temperature, you may not get some of the described therapeutic benefits described with traditional smoking or dabbing. β–Myrcene boils at 330°F, β-Caryophyllene at 266°F, and Pinene at 311°F. It’s believed that smelling, eating, and vaping lower than those temperatures will be the most efficient way to receive those benefits.

Author: Caitlin Nelson