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Many people who have had experiences with cannabis and cannabis derivatives are often more than aware of the distinctive smell that the plant emits. While the majority of studies into cannabis revolve around cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, it is actually the terpenes of the plant that provide the unique aroma sort out by enthusiasts.
So, what are terpenes? Terpenes are compounds made from the hydrocarbons held within the essential oils that the plant produces in its trichomes – the sticky crystals that cover the leaves and stem – and the aromas produced are used to repel unwanted insects and pests that could present a danger.
Throughout the world of flora, experts have discovered over 20,000 different forms of terpenes, each with a specialised function within the plant it calls home. As cannabis strains are extremely varied, scientists are discovering new types of terpenes every year and so far, over 100 different kinds of terpenes have been identified in the marijuana plant alone.
The sense of smell is one of the strongest human senses in relation to both memory and mood. Often, humans can detect a scent they haven’t smelt since they were a child, and upon detection, are likely to feel a wave of nostalgia as memories come flooding back. Similarly, certain smells are known to elevate our mood, while others are capable of producing a feeling of dread.
Scientists believe that over thousands of years, our brains have evolved to be able to associate certain scents with the effects of their sources, and how these effects may affect us.
It makes sense, therefore, that when individuals try different strains of cannabis, differently scented strains will provide different outcomes for them as they ingest, vape, or smoke it.
The specialists who mix CBD oil do so in the knowledge that there are four main categories of smells/tastes that are derived from terpenes – spicy, bitter, sweet and sour. These four categories are then able to broken up into sub-categories with more specific properties. By knowing the likely effects of these terpenes, experts are able to provide helpful advice to patients who use CBD oil and which products could be the most beneficial to them.
Terpene profiles are built up via the shared knowledge of users and recorded by experts to help dispensers provide a better service for specific conditions.
For example, profiles that are heavily made up from the terpene limonene, are likely to reduce anxiety and depression, and are easily identified by their sour, zesty fragrance. While humulene, on the other hand, produces an earthy, spicy and herbal aroma, but is extremely useful for pain relief and appetite suppression, while also functioning as an anti-inflammatory.
Over the past thirty years, several studies have been published that show the terpenes in cannabis also play a very big part in the way that CBD and THC is absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that those who use CBD oil can have their experience customised by a knowledgeable dispenser in order to help alleviate their illness/pain symptoms in the most effective way possible.
As time passes, it is likely that the study of terpenes within the cannabis plant will become central to the CBD oil industry, and indeed, how different oils are prescribed for different conditions. And similar to wine, terpene aficionados are likely to find themselves learning more about the complex blends that help us appreciative the finished product.