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It is common knowledge that each strain of cannabis has its own unique effect. The leading science asserts that this is due to the interactions of the various compounds within the plant, known as the ‘Entourage’ effect. Compounds involved in this effect are cannabinoids, terpenes, terpenoids and flavonoids.
Phytocannabinoids are the most recognized compounds in cannabis, with THC and CBD being the most well known. These compounds are nearly specific to cannabis, unlike the other aforementioned compounds. They have the most influence on how and what a consumer will feel. At least 113 different cannabinoids have been isolated and studied.
Terpenes are the major contributor to the smell and flavor of the cannabis plant, in addition to affecting the cannabinoids’ effects. The stimuli that a plant experiences as it develops will determine the strength of the terpenes that develop. Once a plant is cut, it begins to denature and the terpenes will develop into terpenoids as their molecular structures change. Over 200 terpenoids have been discerned, with more to be identified.
Flavonoids determine the coloring of a plant, as well as influence the smell and flavor, on account they are technically terpene groupings. Far less research has been spent on the flavonoids, though some 21 have been identified. One of the flavonoids has an effect 30 times stronger than aspirin. The potential medicinal uses in the future will certainly spur further research.
Understanding how these compounds interact has the potential to further launch cannabis into the therapeutic realm, which could significantly shift the focus of the industry. As the qualities of the lesser-known cannabinoids are documented, new cannabis strains will be developed that showcase their benefits. Further study of terpenes, terpenoids and flavonoids will result in even more precise growing methods so as to be able to tailor the ‘Entourage’ effect that they will have on the cannabinoids. It is likely that this will create more awareness in regard to the delivery method consumers choose, as each of the compounds mentioned has a specific boiling point; more so as the testing industry grows and cleaner, more precise delivery systems become available. With the stigma of the use of cannabis diminishing, throngs of people will begin turning to cannabis as a natural way to deal with health issues.
Considering there are still feral strains of cannabis out there, and that we have a long way to go in identifying and understanding all of the components of cannabis, the possibilities continue to grow. All of this could yield an industry that would truly have the capacity to cater to the complex needs of the consumer. Health and lifestyle choices continue to evolve as our society learns more about what it takes to achieve good health. Stress, poor diet and lack of movement have contributed to a health crisis. People are looking for ways to deal with the mental effects, inflammation, and pain that these strains on our system cause. The cannabis industry is shaping up to be a potential leader in self-care.