Welcome to part two of our series on the different types of cannabis and the effects they have. In Part 1, indica vs. sativa, we discussed some of the basics of the cannabis plant, including the differences between sativa, indica, and hybrid strains, the effects of the cannabinoids found in these strains, and how they make you feel mentally and physically.
In Part 2, we will go over the relationships between these cannabinoids and the terpenes found in cannabis, and how this relationship leads to the physiological and psychological effects of different strains of cannabis.
Your Body & Cannabis
Every person on earth has a skeletal system. They also have a muscular system to help move them around. A digestive system to help them eat and get nourishment from food. In this article though, we are interested in another system, the endocannabinoid system.
This system is present in everyone, even if they don’t consume cannabis. Endocannbinoids are similar to the cannabinoids found in your favorite strains, but they are produced by your own body. The major goal of the endocannabinoid system is to promote homeostasis within the body; this basically means to ensure your body is balanced and in equilibrium at all times from a physiological standpoint.
The endocannabinoid system is a complex system just like any other, with receptors, enzymes, and the endocannabinoids themselves all interacting with each other to make sure your body is regulated. Scientists have identified two key endocannabinoids so far; anandamide (AEA), and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG), which play a vital role in carrying out the tasks of the endocannabinoid system. Without getting much more scientific on you, a recent study conducted by faculty from The University of British Columbia has shown that the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate body temperature, muscle formation, liver function, learning, memory, and much more.
You may remember terpenes from our previous article on our grow tour; these are the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its distinct smell. THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids have no scent on their own, so the smell of a certain strain of cannabis can be attributed to its terpene profile.
Many people disregard the terpenes as a secondary concern; most consumers are primarily interested in the THC and CBD content of a strain, not the strain’s aroma. However, this line of thinking is a huge mistake! Terpenes play a key role changing how THC and CBD interact with our bodies. Back in 1989, David Watson and Robert Connell Clarke set out to determine the purpose of terpenes in the cannabis plant. Their results were absolutely eye opening — the consensus among Watson and several associates was that terpene-infused resin with 50 percent THC was more potent by dry weight than an equivalent amount of pure THC. That’s quite the multiplying effect!
Research has come along much further since then, and now we are even able to associate certain effects with specific terpenes. Some of the most popular terpenes are myrcene, pinene, and limonene, with each producing different effects. For example, pinene is the most common terpenoid in nature and provides a higher sense of mental clarity and memory retention. Limonene is another terpene that gives off a citrusy scent; think of our Super Sour Lemon flower and how it smells. It excels in aiding cannabinoids and other terpenes through your skin, mucous membranes, and digestive system. That’s why it’s often found in topicals, salves, edibles, and other forms of cannabis. A discussion with Aaron Riley of Cannasafe, a highly rated cannabis testing facility, yields even more evidence of this effect. “…[For instance], Myrcene, which contributes to the sleepy effects associated with indica, was the highest terpene present in a sativa-winning strain by a client.” That might sound shocking at first, but it alluded to an even greater question: do the terpenes play a bigger role than we originally thought?
The Antiquated Approach
Just as there is more than meets the eye than just THC percentages, at Seed & Smith, we believe that the comfortable, current paradigm of indica versus sativa is outdated and needs to be qualified. As you can see, how cannabis makes you feel doesn’t simply depend on the amount of THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids present. Once we accept this, it seems rather antiquated to determine the effects of a strain of cannabis just based on the shapes of its leaves or how tall the plant is, doesn’t it? The waters are even more muddied when you consider the lengthy history of the cultivation of cannabis; tens and even hundreds of years of cross breeding and technological advances make an indica strain you’d find in a cannabis dispensary today very different from one found in the remote mountains of India hundreds of years ago. Today, indica and sativa are more of a physical description and help growers to predict maturation cycles, yields, and cultivation specific practices rather than the psychoactive effects they can produce.
This inconsistency manifests itself in many ways; there are some sativas that can put someone to sleep with a deep body high and some indicas that produce an energetic head high. Yet, the old norms would have us believe this is impossible. With our current understanding of THC, terpenes, and cannabinoids and how they react uniquely with each person and their body, a more holistic approach has been found to be successful. You may be familiar with the saying “the nose knows”, and this encapsulates a major point; you’re choosing a strain for you!
The Entourage Effect
So how does this tie in with the title of this article, the entourage effect? As mentioned, in addition to THC and CBD, consuming cannabis also exposes your body to over 400 other cannabinoids and terpenes. This entourage of other compounds interact with each other synergistically, magnifying the therapeutic effects of cannabis. “Cannabis is inherently polypharmaceutical,” Dr. John McPartland, a well respected researcher, notes, “and synergy arises from interactions between its multiple components.”
In simpler terms, this means that the physiological and psychological effects you feel when consuming cannabis cannot just be attributed to the levels of THC and CBD present in that particular strain. Instead, it is the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that plays a critical role in the effects of individual strains of cannabis.
On the last stop of our cannabis grow tour, we dedicate a section to explaining how terpenes play a key role in the entourage effect. We believe it’s an important part of your experience when consuming cannabis and the modern way to assess its therapeutic benefits.
A Newfound Perspective
Here at Seed & Smith, we are appreciative of how far the cannabis industry has developed in cultivation, scientific research, medicinal solutions, and widespread societal acceptance. However, as pioneers within the cannabis realm, we embrace innovation and new perspectives on cannabis’ magnificence. Namely, we are proponents of accepting cannabis in all of its glory… THC, terpenes, cannabinoids, and the plethora of natural compounds that intermingle to provide a full spectrum feeling when consumed. The entourage effect — it’s a part of who we are. See below the thoughts and feelings on this from some of our team members:
“With a greater understanding of terpenes and their interactions with our endocannabinoid system, comes great responsibility throughout the cultivation process. Through meticulous agricultural processes, proper drying procedures, and adequate curing we can further express these naturally occurring compounds found in a specific cultivar. These processes translate to a more comprehensive piece of biomass or extract, in terms of the entourage effect, for the end user.” — Parks McMillan / Director of Cultivation
“I think understanding, or at the very least acknowledging, that terpenes play a significant role if the physiological effects from consuming cannabis is important to understand why one person may feel different effects from consuming the same strain. More and more research is being conducted on the interactions of terpenes and the human body, as well as preservation of terpenes on the cultivation and extraction segments of the industry. The importance of the interaction of THC and terpenes in the near future will hopefully be uncovered completely, or at the very least, understood far better than it is now.” — Mike Lempert / Director of Logistics
“In a perfect world cannabis could be perfectly boxed into broad categories, but the truth is it remains and will always be a plant-based medicine, which means every individual cultivar will have its own ratios of THC:CBD and different varieties of terpenes. When people begin to explore how strains effect their endocannabinoid system, they begin to harness the true entourage effect of cannabis.” — Phil Schellenberger/ Brand Ambassador
Your Nose Knows You Best
So where do you go from here? Well for starters, always remember that your nose knows you best. Trust your olfactory senses when it comes to strain selection and don’t be afraid to stray away from your traditional indica or sativa choice if a certain flower appeals to you. Contrarily, be wary of cannabis strains whose odor seems to disagree with you. Another great rule of thumb is to slowly ease into a new strain to understand how it makes you feel. Keep that in mind when discussing cannabinoids and terpenes.
As you become more of a cannabis connoisseur, exploring the hundreds of marijuana strains that exist, take note of your preferences. Jot down strains you like, certain genetics that didn’t sit well with you, if there is a terpene profile you particularly enjoy, and even if a type of cannabis plant like sativa or indica is usually a safe bet for you. Seed & Smith takes pride in being a trusted resource for your cannabis experience — from our knowledgeable budtenders to our partnership with Leaf411, we want to make sure you understand everything you desire about cannabis consumption. We’d love to hear more from you on this topic! Send us an email, give us a call, or stop by for one of our marijuana grow tours where we take you from seed to sale.
 NCBI – Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System
 BAS Research – How do Terpenes Effect Cannabis
 The New Amsterdam – Terpenes: Not Just the Smell and Taste of Weed
 L.A. Taco – The History of Sativa vs. Indica ~ Why Everything You’ve Smoked is Technically a Hybrid
 The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association – The Endocannabinoid System: An Osteopathic Perspective