Terpenes Series: Overview

Photo Credit: Medical Jane

Photo Credit: Medical Jane

We will now begin a series on the terpenes of the cannabis plant by discussing a brief overview of these compounds.

Terpenes are the aromatic hydrocarbons found in a variety of plants, including cannabis. The FDA has deemed terpenes safe, and now research is beginning to show that these terpenes may also provide therapeutic relief. Terpenes act on receptors as neurotransmitters, dissolve in lipids or fats, inhibit serotonin uptake, enhance norepinephrine activity, increase dopamine activity, and augment GABA. Terpenes can also enhance or buffer the effects of cannabinoids. In what he calls "phytocannabinoid-terpenoid syndergy," Dr. Ethan Russo has found terpenes and other non-cannabinoid parts of cannabis inhibit the intoxicating effects of cannabinoids like THC, which in turn increases THC's therapeutic index. Russo says this increases cannabis' ability to treat pain, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, and even cancer. 

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