Terpenes, Cannabinoids, Full Spectrum and the Entourage Effect

One of the most important parts to understand when talking about Cannabis and communicating its effects to customer is understanding that Indica and Sativa are not the be-all-end-all when it comes to describing the effects that Cannabis can provide to consumers. Instead, you are better off familiarizing yourself with what does affect consumers. Let’s define them:

  • Cannabinoids: Refers to the chemical group of substance that is naturally found within
    cannabis plants. Examples are THC, CBD, CBN, etc. Over a hundred cannabinoids have been
    identified with new ones being found every day! i
  • Terpenes: Terpenes are highly aromatic chemical compounds found within many plants and
    herbs. Mint, for example. Pine Needles are another example. Both have distinct smells.
    Those smells are caused by terpenes!ii
  • Entourage Effect: Refers to the theory that cannabinoids have more favorable actions when
    delivered with a higher proportion of other chemical compounds, such as terpenes.iii
  • Full Spectrum: Refers to the state of cannabis concentrate. A full-spec concentrate will have
    multiple cannabis plant extracts like essential oils, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. iv
  • Isolate: A Pure cannabinoid in its base form devoid of other plant extracts.

Now that you have a basic definition of the above terms, you can begin to really unlock how to navigate cannabis and how/why it effects people differently.

The effects of Cannabis truly vary from person to person however having some basic knowledge of Cannabinoids and Terpenes can make for a great field guild. For example, if someone is looking for psychoactivity, then they would want something with a higher amount of THC, for example. If someone is looking for symptom relief without dealing with psychoactive effects, then perhaps a one-to-one ratio of THC to CBD may be a better choice. But, if someone comes in and specifically is looking for better sleep, for example, perhaps looking for something with a higher percentage of CBN may be a better choice than simply picking the highest THC %, CBN being a cannabinoid that has been found to promote better sleep.

Cannabinoids are NOT the be-all-end-all either. Terpenes contribute to the over-all high and help differentiate the effects of, for example, a Blue Dream from a OG Kush. Cannabinoids activate receptors inside of the endo-cannabinoid system where terpenes are absorbed entirely by your body. Combining a high concentration of terpenes with a high concentration of cannabinoids, it seems to galvanize the effects and make them stronger and depending on the blend of the two chemicals, provide different effects based upon that specific blend. In a study conducted by “Frontiers in Neurology,” the organizers found that people with epilepsy who took a CBD-rich extract—that is a full-spectrum extract instead of an isolate (that is pure CBD, no Terpenes, no other Cannabinoids) had fewer side effects that those who took CBD-isolate.vi This is all a long way of saying, if you are someone who really likes to get the psychoactive compound that cannabis offers, you may find better effect with a cultivar that offers just as much terpenes as it does active cannabinoids than if you were to hunt for a cultivar that simply offers a lot of active cannabinoids which is all an even longer way of saying that if you are looking for a specific effect—say an up-lifting sativa high—then simply chasing a high THC count isn’t going to provide a consumer the exact effect that they are looking for. Pick the most heady, racy sativa you can imagine, if there is a high THC count, the consumer will still likely feel the lethargic come down but if you can find the right mix of THC, CBD, terpenes and other various extracts, you may find the perfect strain for them.


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