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The Good Herb

Make your cannabis use more effective: Learn your terpenes


You may recall that I have mentioned Dr. Raphael Mechoulam before. He is the father of cannabinoids. Dr. M is 92 years young, very much alive in Israel and  still very involved in cannabis research.

Dr. M, not only discovered over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant,  including Delta 9 THC, the most well known for its psychoactive properties. There is also Delta 8 THC,  potent but less psychoactive; THCA; CBD, best known for its anti-inflammatory properties; CBG; CBN and more. Each cannabinoid has a specific effect in the medicinal value of the plant.

In his research, Dr. M also discovered terpenes and their effect on cannabinoids. It was Dr. M who coined the phrase “the entourage effect” -- meaning the full spectrum use of all cannabinoids and terpenes is more effective when used together.

So, what are terpenes?

Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis that give the plant the aroma  and flavor that also impacts how cannabis affects the user. Recommendation:  Do your own research  on the different cannabis strains and terpenes. Look for the ones  that can serve your specific needs.

There are at least 16 terpenes in the plants  and each one has a specific aroma and effect: A-Pinene, B-Carophyllene, Bisbolol, Borneol, Camphene, Caryophyllene Oxide, Delta 3 Carene, Eucalyptol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Myrcene, Phytol, Pinene, Terpinolene, Trans-Nerolidol and Valencene.

Example: Pinene, one of my favorites, has a piney aroma and taste.  It is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Linalool is known for its analgesic effects.

Keep in mind that the cannabis available today at dispensaries, is not the cannabis of our youth. THC levels were lower then (3 percent to 8 percent), compared to today’s THC levels (20 percent to 80 percent).

Some research  suggests that higher levels of THC are not necessarily therapeutic. Too high and there can be adverse effects such as paranoia, increased blood pressure, headaches and more serious psychotic reactions. Always use cannabis with caution … know what you are consuming to avoid an unpleasant experience.

Micro-dosing is the recommended approach. It is safer and less expensive. Learn how many milligrams you need. The trick is to use minimal amounts daily on a consistent basis. I also recommend that you keep track of your use and your results. When smoking  cannabis, you may get immediate effects but  it is difficult to gauge the milligrams you are consuming. Best to  consume edibles which are  labeled, by law, with exact milligrams.  Begin with 3 to 5 mg and add more as needed. At this time, there is no standard dose; each person will respond differently. There are other factors to consider, such as  interactions with prescription medications. Always do your research.

In addition to micro-dosing, research suggests that consuming fat, black pepper and/or mango  to name a few, can enhance the effects of cannabis. Next time you medicate, eat a mango or some fat: chocolate, yogurt, cheese, avocado or add black pepper to your dose. Keep track of the effects, you will be pleasantly surprised. Beginners be cautious!

Cannabis  use  does not have to be expensive. Smoking  cannabis flower or vaping  THC concentrates is most expensive. Edibles, in raw form or cooked, if used  consistently in micro-doses can be more effective and less expensive, especially if you make your own. You will need more flower if you intend to DIY. Come April 1, cannabis will be legal in New Mexico;  prices will be less, as there will be more flower since there will be more cannabis growers.

In conclusion, using cannabis medicinally comes with a learning curve. It is up to you to explore and track what strains  and terpenes best serve your needs and what methods are most effective and less expensive.

 Hilda Luz Chavez is a traditional naturopath, business and medicine woman and medical cannabis expert with over 40 years’ experience in the field of natural medicine. Contact: Dr. Hilda at: 915-204-5440 or email  chavezhl@aol.com.