While the current state of cannabis research offers more evidence to support the medicinal use of marijuana, many, if not most, research studies overlook one crucial concept: all strains are not created equally. The cannabis cultivated within the black market has been bred with a focus on Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis that causes intoxication or the “high”. As medical marijuana has gained more traction, the cannabis grown today comes in a variety of strains with, not only with different cannabinoid content, but also a variety of terpenes. These terpenes are the compounds that are responsible for not only the variation in scent, but in effect as well. Research often fails to recognize that there is no one-strain-fits-all approach to using medical marijuana for various ailments.
Much like cannabis, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain to affect mood and attention, with different terpenes have different effects. Though the exact mechanism is not completely understood, it is believed terpenes interact with the Endocannabinoid System along the phytocannabinoids (i.e. THC and CBD). Some terpenes induce a calm, mellow feeling, causing many people to feel sleepy, while other terpenes may cause people to feel wide awake, active, and focused, regardless of the cannabinoid content. In fact, many of these terpenes are also shared with other herbs within the plant kingdom. For that reason, when planning any holistic cannabis medicine regimen, it’s best to seek advice and certification through a cannabis specialist that can guide your choice of strains.