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Learn about cannabis

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is the term commonly used for the plant or flower of the Cannabaceae family. It’s been consumed by humans for longer than we’ve written stuff down.

Sativa and Indica

There are two main types of cannabis for human use: Sativa and Indica. Each has a different shape, size, leaf and effect. Crossed with each other, they make hybrids. Indica is generally considered to provide a calming and relaxing effect. Sativa can have more energizing, uplifting and cerebral effects.

Hybrids

And those hybrids? Somewhere between the two, with a dominant effect from one of the two parent plants.

THC and CBD

The active compounds in cannabis are cannabinoids. Cannabis has more than 100 of them, of which THC and CBD are the most common.

Odour

Ever noticed the distinct smell of cannabis? You can thank terpenes for that. They’re volatile aromatic compounds in the essential oil of plants, including cannabis.

Trichomes

Terpenes and cannabinoids like THC and CBD are both contained in trichomes, tiny and sticky hairs on the cannabis flower.

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Terpenes: What they are, why they matter

From lemons and black pepper to pine trees and herbs, terpenes are everywhere. And nowhere moreso than in cannabis.

Known as the fragrant, essential oils that lend aromatic profiles to cannabis products, terpenes (from the word turpentine) do more than lend pungency to scent.

Beta-caryophyllene, for instance, is found in black pepper, oregano, green leafy vegetables and many strains of cannabis. It is gastro-protective and offers some promise as the basis for treatment of inflammatory conditions. Others, according to a 2011 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology,* “could produce synergy with respect to treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections,” through an entourage effect that magnifies the therapeutic effects of plant compounds, noted researcher Dr. Ethan Russo.

In cannabis, scientists have identified more than 200 terpenes, although only a handful are present in significant concentrations.

Even so, that’s enough for sophisticated consumers who once only identified cannabis as indica or sativa to turn to terpene profiles to identify the ‘nose’ of their products, to use a sommelier’s term.

Linalool, for example, offers the spicy, floral nose found in lavender, and offers a sedating, calming effect that could possibly aid in relaxation and sleep. It’s also found in laurel, birch and rosewood.

Another popular terpene, Limonene, has the same citrus profile found in orange rinds, juniper and peppermint. It is said to help elevate moods or help with stress.

Pinene, a sharp, sweet-smelling terpene found in pine needles, conifers and sage, has been associated with memory retention and alertness.

So, next time you are looking for a cannabis strain, follow your nose to the terpene profile. It will unlock so much more about the plant and its effects.

 

*Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects, Ethan B Russo, Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug; 163(7): 1344–1364.