Just when we begin to collectively acknowledge and understand the many potential benefits of THC and CBD, researchers turn the page to reveal hundreds more chemical compounds found in marijuana and hemp plants, many of which may also have therapeutic benefits.
As indicated by this terpenes and cannabinoids chart, these compounds are divided into two categories: cannabinoids, which CBD and THC belong to, and terpenes.
Unless you’re using a CBD isolate, which contains only cannabidiol, you will likely encounter terpenes and other cannabinoids when using CBD oils or other kinds of cannabis-based products.
This terpenes and cannabinoids chart will help you to mentally organize some of the most prominent compounds that are catching up in clout to THC and CBD, but for more backstory on these fascinating phytochemicals, consider the following.
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What Are Terpenes?
Just like cannabinoids CBD and THC, cannabis glands also produce oily terpenes, a group of chemical compounds that have slightly different traits and chemical compositions than their cannabinoid neighbors.
The greatest giveaway in the case of cannabis terpenes is the smell, to be sure.
Medical or recreational, rock concert or nursing home, few CBD/cannabis consumers will deny that cannabis-based terpenes give off a pungent odor.
“Skunky” is the descriptor often used to describe the smell of common cannabis strains, which is apt considering that the plants use these aromatic terpenes as a defense mechanism against would-be predators.
On the other hand, some substances on this terpenes and cannabinoids chart smell minty or even sweet to attract pollinating insects.
Cannabis isn’t the only type of plant that contains terpenes, but it does have over 100 of them, many of which have been recently unveiled as having medicinal potential.
List of Terpenes
Here are just a few of the frontrunners:
Caryophyllene: Also found in black pepper, rosemary, and a few other commonly consumed items, this terpene is unique in that it can directly stimulate the body’s natural endocannabinoid receptors. It smells and looks like a terpene, but it acts like a cannabinoid in its inflammation-fighting and calming effects.
Limonene: The discerning nose will pick up notes of citrus behind the wave of muskiness when smelling certain strains of cannabis, for which you can thank limonene. This sweet-smelling terpene is present in various citrus fruits. Preclinical research referenced in this study by the University of Arizona Tucson cancer researchers suggests that the limonene terpene may have therapeutic applications for breast cancer patients.
Myrcene: A steady fixture among most legitimately distributed cannabis brands/strains, myrcene gives off that earthy, dank, and polarizing aroma (love it or hate it). Chaminade University of Honolulu researchers describe in this study how myrcene can alleviate both general and neuropathic pain by interacting with a receptor known as TRPV1.
Pinene: While myrcene may be the most common terpene in cannabis, pinene covers a much larger spread when it comes to different varieties of plants the world over. Again, it takes a focused effort to pick up this pine scent, but it’s not as hard to detect in common cannabis strains as the citrus influences. Pinene is thought to have anti-inflammatory and anxiety-reducing effects.
What Are Cannabinoids?
If a chemical substance’s primary function is to directly interact with the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors, then it’s a cannabinoid.
The mechanism just described is what allows cannabinoids to exert their potentially beneficial effects.
Depending on the type of cannabinoid, it will interact with one or both cannabinoid receptors found in our brains, labeled CB1 and CB2, which are responsible for combating inflammation, pain, and several other problems and pathologies.
Even within their own category, CBD and THC are vastly outnumbered by more than a hundred fellow cannabinoids. Many of these are being plucked from the haze and shoved to the forefront so clinicians and the general public can ponder their therapeutic utility.
List of Cannabinoids
Cannabigerol (CBG): A panel of pharmacology and neurology researchers in Italy demonstrated in a study that cannabigerol can fight neuroinflammation. Inflamed nerve cells treated with this cannabinoid survived for longer than the control group and showed signs of renewed “antioxidant defense.”
Cannabigerovarin (CBGV): Endocannabinoid Research Group authors, also hailing from various universities in Italy, confirmed in this 2011 study that cannabigerovarin may be just as effective as CBD and THC at addressing inflammation and pain.
Cannabidiol (CBD): We couldn’t omit the only cannabinoid found in an FDA-approved medication, especially since CBD is likely the most abundant cannabinoid in existence. Like the other substances on our cannabinoids and terpenes chart, non-intoxicating CBD has shown its efficacy as a potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic supplement, among other uses.
Cannabinol (CBN): When THC ages and/or oxidizes, it becomes CBN, a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid. THC and CBN have some fascinating effects when combined, as per this article authored by the Departments of Psychobiology, Psychiatry, and Medicine in Sao Paulo’s Escola Paulista de Medicina. Most promisingly, researchers see an insomnia-fighting potential emerging, which hopefully means more CBN research.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Largely responsible for the psychoactive nature of the marijuana plant in its natural form, tetrahydrocannabinol overlaps with CBD in several areas as it concerns health benefits, but not all. For example, THC is said to alleviate glaucoma, whereas CBD is not. Conversely, THC isn’t used for inflammation as often as CBD.
Chemical Balancing and the Entourage Effect
Finally, it’s important to note that, in addition to studying the benefits and effects of individual terpenes and cannabinoids, if we’re going to extract these compounds and alter them in any way, we have to appreciate how they all work together in their natural proportions.
Cannabidiol and the hundreds of other cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp-based products play off of each other to provide a meaningful result that can be affected when this natural ratio is manipulated.
In the case of this “entourage effect,” you can think of cannabinoids and terpenes as colors of paint blending together.
Change one or more of the paint colors, and you’ll create a different result when they’re all blended together again.
By appreciating this distinction and funneling more attention into medicinally relevant cannabinoid and terpene compounds, researchers and consumers can work together to get more out of CBD and related products.