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Terpenes: The Next Category You'll Add to Your Cannabis Content Marketing

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Terpenes may play a key role in the physiological and psychoactive effects of cannabis

Your nose knows. The human sense of smell is so powerful that it can distinguish between at least 1 trillion different odors. We are so sensitive to smell that people can remember specific odors with 65 percent accuracy after a year, yet their visual recall is only 50 percent after three months. Studies also show that up to 75 percent of our emotions are triggered by smell – most of which are linked to pleasure and wellbeing.

These well-known statistics about our sense of smell are providing new opportunities for the cannabis industry as the role of terpenes gain attention and prominence. Terpenes are what give cannabis its distinct aroma profile. And while this can help with identity, it’s also possible that terpenes play a role in both the psychoactive effects of THC as well as the health properties of CBD.

What’s currently known about cannabis terpenes

Produced by the same areas of the plant responsible for cannabinoids like CBD and THC, terpenes are aromatic oils that give cannabis varieties their distinct smell and flavor. Cannabis isn’t the only plant with distinct terpene qualities. Consider the juniper. Many people say they can detect the terpenes of the juniper berry whether it’s picked fresh from a tree or distilled into gin.

Terpenes have a dual job for most plants, including cannabis. The evolutionary job is to lure pollinators and repel anything that wants to eat it. And if you’re familiar with the concept of terroir for grapes, climate, soil, and other factors contribute to a plant’s development of specific terpenes.

Presently, more than 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis plants. They combine to create a unique identity, much like a fingerprint. But many terpenes fall into classes that have similar characteristics.

The role of terpenes

Science continues to struggle with studying the characteristics of things like terpenes because cannabis remains a Schedule I drug at the federal level. So, it may take some time before the actual role terpenes play in cannabis can be established.

Meanwhile, evidence tends to show that certain terpenes are associated with specific psychoactive effects on the human nervous system. A terpene known as limonene – which has a citrus aroma – appears elevate mood. Limonene is a terpene also found in many fruit rinds, juniper, peppermint, and rosemary. Another terpene known as linalool – which has a distinct floral aroma – appears to have a relaxing effect. Linalool is a terpene also found in lavender.

It’s believed that the amount of a cannabis terpene may interact with other cannabinoids to contribute to what’s known as the entourage effect. It’s the concept of interactive synergy that causes some cannabis companies to believe that the whole plant is necessary to receive the true benefits. The extraction of just THC or CBD cannabinoids prevent the compounds found in terpenes from whatever influence they play on the human nervous system.

A terpene known as myrcene appears to reduce resistance in the blood-brain barrier, which facilitates easier passage of other substances found in cannabis. It’s currently not known how extraction and removal of terpenes changes the effect of either CBD or THC.

What is generally agreed upon is that terpenes have been shown to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the gastrointestinal, immune, and nervous systems.

Talking about terpenes

A growing number of cannabis analysis labs have begun to test for, identify, and measure terpene content. Meanwhile the most common terpenes have been mapped and named. Carbonization destroys most terpenes, as it does cannabinoids. It is why companies pursuing terpene promotion and marketing have taken the effort to determine the temperatures at which each terpene vaporizes. For example, the terpene ocimene – which may have antiviral and anti-fungal health properties – vaporizes at 122 degrees Fahrenheit. However, linalool does not vaporize until it reaches 388 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cannabis companies will have to be prepared to offer education and perspective as the public becomes more aware of terpenes and their role in the effects that can be experienced by different cannabis products.

Terpenes offer yet another opportunity to engage consumers in a discussion that not all cannabis products are the same. There are plenty of visual charts to help people understand the flavor profiles of wine. It’s not hard to imagine the same happening for terpenes. Gain more insight into cannabis marketing.

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