Cannabinoids and terpenes are both found in cannabis, but are terpenes cannabinoids? Here's a quick breakdown on terpenes and cannabinoids and how they're different.
Are terpenes cannabinoids?
In short, no. Terpenes are not the same as cannabinoids. Both are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants, but they're different both in structure and in the effects they produce.
Terpenes are found in all plants on earth and are responsible for the way plants smell and taste, though they promote a handful of effects. Many terpenes make up a terpene profile, and terpene profiles can promote certain effects thanks to the synergy terpene isolates share when they come into contact with each other. They are responsible for many health benefits including antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, though they're also mildly psychoactive and can alter your moods.
Cannabinoids, on the other hand, are found primarily in cannabis. a few other plants produce cannabinoids, but they're typically in much lower concentrations. They interact with our endocannabinoid systems and bind to fat cells within the body. They promote a range of physical and mental effects, too. The most common effect of cannabinoids is pain relief and a euphoric high.
What's the difference between cannabinoids and terpenes?
The biggest difference between cannabinoids and terpenes is their structure and their effects. Both are chemically different and processed within the body in different ways. Terpenes are responsible for scents and flavors, while cannabinoids are responsible for physical and mental effects.
However, cannabinoids and terpenes work in synergy. Terpenes are just as essential to the medicinal properties as the cannabinoids that are present in the different strains of cannabis because of these synergistic effects, outlined in The Entourage Effect.
With that said, terpenes have the ability to enhance different effects brought on by cannabinoids. For example, beta-caryophyllene can bind to cannabinoid receptors. When the CB2 receptor is activated it can reduce pain and inflammation, and so can cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Together this pain-reducing effect is stronger.
Ultimately, comparing terpenes to cannabinoids is like comparing apples to oranges. They're different both on a chemical level and with the roles they play within plants. However, they can work together to make for stronger medicinal and therapeutic effects when used with cannabis.