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The Feels Ep. 04: Terpenes

 January 29, 2022  Written by David Melnick
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Join Florissant budtenders Dr. Bex Johnson and Jeff Rowse for their discussion about terpenes, recorded live on 11/22/2021.

0:00 A Little Bit of Banter
2:45 Welcome to Episode 04
3:05 Introducing Terpenes
4:12 What's a trichome?
5:12 About Green Wednesday
6:38 Mono vs Sesquiterpenes
7:38 Breaking Down Isoprenes
9:09 Chains of Carbon in Terpenes
9:45 Testosterone and estrogen are terpenes!
10:05 Retinol (AKA Vitamin A) is a terpene!
10:28 Cholesterol, rubber, and latex are terpenes!
11:21 Exciting products at Feel State
12:00 First-pass Metabolism of Edibles
13:08 Introducing Myrcene, the Most Common Terpene in Cannabis
15:08 Terpenes that DON'T Directly Interact with CB1 or CB2 Receptors
15:45 Cannabis Pantry Items at Feel State
16:27 Introducing Terpinolene
18:35 Introducing Limonene
20:15 Introducing Pinene
22:00 Introducing Ocimene
22:59 Introducing Linalool
24:30 Introducing Beta-Caryophyllene: Terpene or Cannabinoid?
25:10 Questions from the Audience
25:20 How do terpenes work when you eat an edible?
26:48 How do terpenes interact with cannabinoids?
28:14 Should certain terpenes be vaporized at specific temperatures?
30:35 Our Canned Food Drive for TEAM

Prefer to read this conversation about terpenes? Check out the transcript below!

JEFF: What’s up everybody? Welcome to another episode of The Feels. I’m Jeff and this is Dr. Bex. Every Monday at five thirty we’re going to cover another exciting cannabis topic. So far we’ve covered cannabinoids, how to choose a chemovar, how to achieve your biphasic dose and we broke down the endocannabinoid system like a fraction for you. Today’s topic: terpenes.

BEX: Not everyone is familiar with the term, but you're definitely familiar with the chemicals! Ever zested a lemon? You’ve smelt limonene. That smell of pepper and spices? You got a snootful of beta-caryophyllene. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the fragrance, taste, and some of the pigments of plants. That’s right, plants plural; Not just cannabis. Terpenes are literally everywhere. They can be found in flowers like lavender, fruits like citrusy oranges, herbs like basil, spices like cinnamon, and trees like pine.

JEFF: Inside the cannabis plant, terpenes grow alongside cannabinoids inside of trichomes. Don’t worry if you feel a little gob-smacked. We’re going to back up and tackle them one at a time. Terpenes: secondary chemicals that grow alongside cannabinoids: the primary chemicals in cannabis. Where do they both grow? Inside trichomes. The dictionary definition of trichome is, “a small hair or other outgrowth from the epidermis of a plant, typically unicellular and glandular.”

BEX: And if you take a good look at a trichome, it looks just like that. A tiny, hairy outgrowth on top of the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. Though, a better description of how it looks would be a mushroom: a mushroom with a long, thin stem and a round, bulbous cap. Now, if your flowers have been cured properly, those trichomes are going to have milky white to amber colorations to them. If they were harvested too early, they are going to look clear. It’s possible to tell their colors with the naked eye, however, it's easiest to get a closeup look at trichomes if you have something more particular like a jeweler’s loop.

JEFF: Hey Doc. Why don’t we take a closer look at what’s going on at Feel State. In two days it’s eleven twenty four, y’all. GREEN WEDNESDAY! For those out of the loop, Green Wednesday is like Black Friday for the cannabis industry. It's the second biggest sales day after four twenty. Every Wednesday before Thanksgiving, patients in droves stock up for the holidays. In fact, according to Headset, a cannabis data and marketing company, during the last eleven twenty four, cannabis sales topped that of Christmas’ Black Friday. Take that ‘ole St. Nick!

BEX: Well, we definitely won’t be actin’ Grinch-like during eleven twenty four. We want everyone to have a happy Feelsgiving. Check out what we got going on at Feel State Florissant. We wanted to keep it as simple as possible for y'all, so, all day Wednesday, that is: eleven twenty four, twenty four percent off. You cannot combine it with other discounts or accessories, but twenty four percent off is solid: that’s even better than our First Timer’s and Veterans’ discounts. And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, while being oh-so-thankful for our patients, we’re also offering fifteen percent off all day on Black Friday.

JEFF: Alright. I’m going to drop some science on you and try not to blow your minds. When it comes to cannabis, there are two types of terpenes that are most frequent: monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. I told you I’d be dropping science. Here comes some more. A monoterpene is a class of terpenes with two isoprene units. A sesquiterpene is a class of terpenes with three or more isoprene units. Isoprenes are hydrocarbons (or five carbon units).

BEX: Come on now, Jeff. You said you weren’t going to blow their minds. And I shol’ didn’t think you’d take me back to my organic chemistry days in pharmacy school. 

JEFF: I know Doc. But we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of cannabis now. This episode might require more than one viewing. We’re gonna have to break it down like Kurupt and Too Short.

BEX: Challenge accepted, Kurupt. Let’s reverse engineer this starting with isoprenes. An isoprene is made up of five units of carbon. Imagine five lines attached to each other in a chain. A monoterpene has two isoprenes or ten units of carbon. Some monoterpenes you might have heard of are myrcene, limonene and linalool. A sesquiterpene has fifteen units of carbon chained together. Some sesquiterpenes you might have heard of are nerolidol, humulene, and caryophyllene.

JEFF: Damn, Too. Short. I mean Itty Bitty. You must feel a ton lighter cause that was some heavy knowledge you just dropped. I only hope you missed your toes. Knowledge ain’t the only thing dropping at Feel State Florissant. Prices are dropping too. Flora Farms has changed to tiered pricing based on THC percentages. This is coming from Flora, not us. Y’all gave them too much love on Reddit. I’m kidding. Flora has stepped their game up. That’s why we can offer thirty five dollar eighths of Lemon Berry Candy, Lilac Cookies, Pineapple Kush, SAP, and Watermelon Zkittles. We’re also offering two hundred ten dollar zips of those chemovars. In fact, there’s only one Flora chemovar that’s going up in price; bubba kush, now priced forty five dollars.

BEX: All that tasty info left me hungry to share some more knowledge, Jeff. Where did we leave off? Oh yeah. Tasty terpenes! We were talking about their important carbon units. These chains of carbon called isoprenes can be rearranged into different combinations to create thousands of different terpenes. There are over twenty thousand different terpenes across the almost four hundred thousand plants–that is, only known to science. With biologists believing that there are over seven million species of plants and animals on the planet, it sounds like there are probably a lil’ more terpenes yet to be discovered.

JEFF: Not only to be discovered, but there are familiar terpenes I know you’ve heard of that you aren’t going to believe are terpenes. Like testosterone and estrogen. I’m not kidding. Both of our sex hormones are tetra-cyclic sesquiterpenes. That’s three isoprenes or how many carbon units, doc?

Dr. BEX: Fifteen.

JEFF: Right on. Here’s another familiar terpene you might have seen on the vitamin shelves in your local grocery store. Retinol, also known as vitamin A. Vitamin A is a monocyclic diterpene. That’s four isoprene units or…?

BEX: Twenty carbon units, Jeff.

JEFF: Very punctilious, Doc! She’s paying attention like St. Nick checks his list. I know everyone’s been checking this terpene. Cholesterol. No lie. Cholesterol is a tetracyclic triterpene.

BEX: And remember, we need cholesterol to help digest food, build cells, and make hormones. But, too much cholesterol–like anything in life–is not good for you.

JEFF: Doc, you’re not going to believe what the most widely known terpene in the whole world is. Rubber. Rubber is an acyclic polyterpene with forty thousand isoprene units. That’s two hundred thousand carbon units.

BEX: Alright, Jeff. We gotta talk about something else. My head is starting to spin. Next thing you’re going to tell me something completely wild; somethin’ like “latex is a terpene.”

JEFF: Nods his head. Polypropylene, too.

BEX: (Hair Flip) We have some great products here at Feel State.

JEFF: Hey, Doc.

BEX: Yeah?

JEFF: Two hundred thou...

BEX: We have Honeybee’s three hundred milligram peanut pretzel milk chocolate bar. Each bar is scored into ten pieces for thirty milligrams of THC per piece. Each piece is further scored so you can snap it in half for a fifteen milligram dose. Even if you are a more experienced patient with your three hundred milligram bar, start low, and go slow.. and, work your way up to your biphasic dose. Edibles, like any other ingested medicine, have to be digested then go through your liver–for what’s called the “first pass” metabolism. First pass can take anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes to take place, so, please be patient, patients.

JEFF: We also have two different flavors of gummies from High Five: Huckleberry Lemonade and Strawberry Watermelon. For those that don’t know, myself included, huckleberries are often confused with blueberries despite the fact there are over thirty species in North America. They taste sweet or tart depending on the color and are mild in flavor. Huckleberry is also one third of my favorite lines from the movie Tombstone. “I’m your huckleberry.”

BEX: And, scene. Alright. Let's try to reign this wagon in before we go completely off the trail. We’re talking terpenes, my good people. When it comes to terpenes in cannabis, they fall into two major classes: monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. Let’s start with a common cannabis monoterpene: beta-myrcene. “Beta” just implies there’s such a thing as an alpha-myrcene. While beta is more common, both are enantiomers of each other. That means: they are mirror images, like our hands. Put our hands together, and the images line up. On the other hand–pun intended: Put one hand on top of the other, and the images are the opposite of each other.

JEFF: Beta-myrcene, like Doc said, is the most common of all terpenes in cannabis. It has a musty smell to it; kind of like decomposing leaves. Despite smelling like a forest floor, beta-myrcene has some wonderful properties to it. It is bioavailable within human plasma within 30 minutes. Once you have some myrcene in ya, there’s a good chance you're going to start feeling a lot calmer. In a 2018 mice study, inhalation of essential cannabis oils containing myrcene reduced stress and anxiety in the little squeakers after only five minutes.

BEX: That’s super interesting. One of the most interesting things to me about myrcene is, that in higher percentages it is sedative, but in lower percentages it is more likely to induce an energetic high. Regardless of the percentages, myrcene is an antioxidant. That means it inhibits the production of free radicals that damage cells. Myrcene also helps in the prevention of ageing and degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and neurological illnesses like Alzeihemier’s.

JEFF: Now, a recent study concluded that four terpenes present in the cannabis plant (beta-myrcene, alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, and limonene) had no direct interaction with our CB1 or CB2 receptors. But that doesn’t mean they are the only receptors in our bodies. Myrcene has been shown to regulate pain through our T-V-R-P-1 receptors. If you're unable to find a chemovar with myrcene, which is highly unlikely, you can load up by consuming some mango, some hops or some lemongrass found at your local grocery store.

BEX: Speaking of groceries, is your cannabis pantry looking a little bare? Well it’s time to stock up then. We have a ton of new pre-rolls from Illicit. Each pack has two zero point five joints in the following chemovars: GMO cookies, purple chem, ghost og, purple tonic, clementine, and white widow. 

JEFF: We’ve got five packs, too, of point five gram pre-rolls of all those chemovars, except the purple tonic. We’ve also got some new Illicit live resin carts. Zero point five grams of Clementine and full grams of Mac Dawg, Ghost OG and Strawberry Float.

BEX: Our next terpene is terpinolene. This sweet and piney terpene can also be found in parsnips, tea tree, nutmeg, apples, and garlic. In folk medicine, garlic is often used for gastric disorders. In western medicine, terpinolene helps with cellular repair by helping prevent the oxidation of an agent that moves cholesterol around the body to help repair cells. Cholesterol being a terpene is starting to make a little more sense now.

JEFF: Terpinolene also downregulates the protein that helps in the creation of leukemia cells. Terpinolene is also an antiproliferative against neuroblastoma, which is adrenal gland cancer, and it acts as an antioxidant in our white blood cells. Finally, terpinolene is sedative on its own, but stimulating when working together with THC.

BEX: Speaking of being stimulating, have you tried Mandarin Cookies from Heya? This deliciously uplifting chemovar is a cross of Mandarin Sunset and Forum Cut Cookies. A little online research will tell you that this is a Type one, sedating chemovar, but for many of us here at Feel State Florissant, we found Mandarin Cookies to be an uplifting, “I Got Things To Do” chemovar. Just goes to show that cannabis affects everyone differently.

JEFF: I’ve been happy to see Blue Dream in the house. This chemovar from Flora Farms takes me back to the beginning of the twenty first century. The first time I smoked Blue Dream I felt a literal change of consciousness after puff number one. Some tumblers in my brain that hadn’t clicked into position locked in place and forever thereafter, I was a changed man for the better.

BEX: This next terpene has some pretty life changing properties to it and it's called limonene. Limonene comes in two types: type R and type S. Type R has an orange scent while type S has a lemon scent to it. Limonene inhibits anxiety-related behavior through alpha-2a receptor-mediated regulation. Our alpha-2a receptors help in regulating how much oxygen our hearts consume and how our blood flows through our heart. Limonene also helps regulate the neurotransmitters in our central nervous system. All these factors can help reduce anxiety.

JEFF: Limonene also acts as an antidepressant. In a mouse model where the mice were placed under what was called “maternal separation stress”, they suffered less separation anxiety after being given limonene. In a study all the way back in nineteen ninety two, limonene killed breast cancer in little squeakers. Now, in humans, limonene helps with athlete’s foot, jock itch, nail fungus and ringworm. Limonene can also help regulate blood sugar by lowering fasting glucose levels. This can lead to healthy weight loss. Lastly, limonene acts as an antibacterial against listeria, e-coli, and staph. Now, if you’ve run out of cannabis, and Feel State happens to be closed, you can supplement with limonene found in mint, juniper and rosemary. If you’re really in need, you can always make some pine needle tea.

BEX: Our next terpene is one we are all familiar with. That is if we have ever mopped a floor or gone for a walk in the forest. I’m talking about pinene. There are two types: alpha pinene and beta pinene. Alpha is more common in cannabis and smells like pine needles and rosemary. Beta-pinene's scent is more akin to dill or parsley, and can be present in cannabis in smaller amounts. Pinene, whether alpha or beta, has some wonderful properties to it. First off, fungal and staph infections hate pinene because of its antimicrobial properties. In a twenty sixteen study, pinene derived from frankincense was found to calm hind paw inflammation in mice. 

JEFF: In a twenty fifteen study on the bellies of Swiss squeakers, alpha pinene inhibited gastric lesions, reduced volume and acidity of gastric juices and increased gastric wall mucus. Finally, we really buried the lead when it comes to pinene. In a twenty sixteen study α-pinene inhibited TNFα-induced MMP-9 mRNA expression and TNFα-mediated NF-κB activity by suppressing IKK.….in humans.

BEX: So….what he just said….in English, is alpha pinene helps fight cancer at the cellular level.

BEX: Let’s talk about a terpene that’s all over nature, but not so much in cannabis; ocimene. There are three types: alpha, cis-beta and trans-beta. All three smell like sweet herbs. If you're lucky enough to have purchased a chemovar with ocimene, you can expect some anti-inflammatory properties as ocimene suppresses inflammatory cytokines, signalling molecules that control growth of immune cells and blood cells.

Ocimene also acts as an anti-fungal for your hair, skin and nails. And, not to bury the lead, ocimene has anti-tumor activities in human colon cancer cells. Since ocimene comes around rather irregularly in cannabis, it can also be found in allspice, parsley, pepper, basil, and mint.

JEFF: We’ve got a couple more terps to talk about before we get to your questions. The first is linalool, of which there are two types: R and S. R smells like lavender; S smells like citrus. So, what kind of benefits do they have? Well, in a twenty fourteen study on Swiss squeakers, scientists demonstrated that linalool reduced chronic non-inflammatory pain. Linalool also acts as an antimicrobial and as a sedative. 

BEX: And a two thousand eight study found linalool has incredibly strong activity against a broad range of cancer cells, such as carcinoma of the cervix, stomach, skin, lung, and bone. Now linalool can also be found in rosewood, lavender, basil, and cinnamon. So make sure at least the latter two items are always in your spice rack. Now, here’s an interesting fact. A study from twenty twenty one study found that linalool, as well as the terpenes alpha-humulene, beta-pinene and geraniol induced significant hypothermia in mice. So, if you’ve ever had unexplained shivers after a sesh, this study might hold the answer as to why.

JEFF: The last chemical we are going to talk about is beta-Caryophyllene. I say chemical because the jury is still out on whether beta-Caryophyllene is a terpene or not. The reason being, it binds to our CB2 receptors and is the only “terpene” to do so. It has incredible anti-inflammatory properties in our heart and immune cells. It acts as a muscle relaxer in squeakers, and it has the ability to affect growth and proliferation of numerous types of cancer cells. And you only need only go as far as your pepper grinder because black peppercorns are loaded with beta-Caryophyllene.

BEX: Well I know there must be questions from the audience...

Questions from the Audience

  • How do terpenes work when you eat an edible?
  • How do terpenes interact with cannabinoids?
  • Should certain terpenes be vaporized at specific temperatures?

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