Understanding Cannabinoids and Terpenes
Cannabis has many medicinal benefits but only in the last 30-40 years have we really begun to understand why and how these benefits work. Hopefully, in this short article you will have a better understanding of how cannabis works in your body to promote a healthy, balanced life.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is found in all humans and animals. Your body already uses this system to help it achieve homeostasis; the state of being balanced.
Endocannabinoids are produced by cells within your body. These tiny molecules bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors located throughout your body. Cannabinoid receptors sit on the surface of cells and listen to conditions outside the cell.
There are two main cannabinoid receptors: CB1 located mostly in your brain, and CB2 located mostly outside of the nervous system. When an endocannabinoid binds to one of these receptors it changes the communication of cells, within your body, to help it get back to normal. When there is a deficiency or problem with our endocannabinoid system, unpleasant symptoms and conditions occur.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flower. The most common cannabinoids you have probably heard of are THC and CBD, but there are at least 85 different cannabinoids found in cannabis. Each of these cannabinoids has different effects on the body.
Cannabinoids bind to receptors found in the body and brain, just like the endocannabinoids our bodies naturally produce. When bound to a receptor, these cannabinoids interact with cells and neurotransmitters to help us alleviate different symptoms. Think of it like a booster shot to your endocannabinoid system. With a little help from our cannabinoid friends, our bodies start to feel better by achieving homeostasis.
What are Terpenes?
Sweet and tropical Golden Goat, earthy and piney Bubba Kush, these aromas that soothe the body and mind, are produced by terpenes. They are also what give cannabis a diverse palate.
Terpenes are oils secreted by the same glands that contain cannabinoids. The development of terpenes in cannabis began for adaptive purposes: to repel predators and lure pollinators.
Over 100 different terpenes have been found in the cannabis plant. Every strain leans towards a unique terpene type and composition, however, many factors can influence a plant’s development of terpenes, including climate, weather, age, fertilizers, soil, and even time of day.
One of the most fascinating characteristics of terpenes is their ability to interact with other compounds in the plant, like cannabinoids. Terpenes can bind to cannabinoid receptors and affect their chemical output. Other terpenes can affect how much THC passes through the blood-brain barrier. They can even influence neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin by modifying their rate of production and availability to receptors.
Terpenes can have a very synergistically effect on cannabinoids, and for this reason, they can be very helpful for patients seeking various reliefs. Some terpenes produce focus while other help alleviate stress. Myrcene, for example, induces sleep whereas limonene elevates mood.
If you need help figuring out strains will best suit your needs, ask one of our trained budtenders for help!