Do Terpenes Get You High?
Cannabis plants, like so many other plants, have small glands on their flowers and leaves called trichomes. On marijuana, trichomes are visible, crystal-like formations which produce cannabinoids like THC, as well as terpenes, the agents responsible for each weed strain’s distinct flavour and aroma profile. Dependent on the type of terpenes, different strains will have different scents, which can range from berries to flowers, and even to the scent of diesel fuel!
Cannabinoids are chemicals that interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system to help regulate many different processes, including mood, appetite, pleasure and pain, and many other things. In other words, cannabinoids are responsible for weed’s medicinal effects, as well as the recreational high that many users enjoy. It is thought that terpenes, as well as being produced in the same way as cannabinoids, can also interact with the endocannabinoid system, changing the way that cannabinoids influence the body. Terpenes can help cannabinoids enter the brain from the bloodstream. This can help you get high faster, and cause a stronger and longer-lasting high.
For example, take a look at what happens when you consume a lot of the terpene myrcene, which is found in mangoes, before smoking up (See our FAQ, Do Mangos Get You Higher?). That’s right, mangoes have some of the same ingredients as marijuana. The terpene that gives mangoes their smell is called myrcene. This study from the Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture found that myrcene was the most common terpene in cannabis out of the sixteen strains observed. Knowing this, the link between mangoes and marijuana is starting to make more sense.
The terpene myrcene makes cell membranes more permeable (meaning that substances can pass through the membranes more easily). So, when you eat a mango, the myrcene in the fruit makes the cells in your brain absorb the chemicals from marijuana more easily. When your brain absorbs more chemicals, like THC, you will experience a stronger and longer lasting high. People also report that eating mangoes helps them experience the effects of weed more quickly. Certain terpenes can produce this effect no matter what plant they may be from — whether it’s mangoes, marijuana, or other.
Some people believe that terpenes can also have an impact on the brain’s neurotransmitters. Terpenes may be able to affect dopamine and serotonin levels. This might help explain why some people experience different moods when they smoke different strains. (Indica versus Sativa, for example, are well known to produce different effects on the smoker’s mood.) For instance, the common terpene Limonene is thought to increase serotonin production in the body. This would boost the mood of someone who smoked a cannabis strain with high limonene levels.
So, we’ve seen how terpenes can help you get high faster, stay high longer, and experience a stronger high. They might even make you feel happy. On top of that, they smell and taste good. Not bad, but will terpenes get you high on their own? Unfortunately, they will not. Terpenes are found in many other things beside cannabis, and they won’t get you high without the help of another substance such as THC.Back To FAQ