The Science Your Nose Knows!

You’ve probably heard of aromatherapy. It’s been used in cultures around the world for centuries not only to help make life smell better, but also to promote health, healing and well-being. But why can burning a candle or some incense make us feel relaxed or alert or happy? Why can certain aromas help relieve depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress and even pain? A big part of the answer to these questions is, “Terpenes.”

Terpenes are amazing chemical compounds that can be found everywhere in Nature. Various combinations of terpenes give everything their distinctive scents. And they’re what make different cannabis strains smell fruity, fuely, cheesey, piney, spicey, earthy, woody and more.

Plants and animals use the scents terpenes emit to communicate with the world around them. The terpene, d-limonene, in an orange blossom tells a bee, “Hey! Pollinate me!” The same terpene in a ripe, juicy orange tells a human, “Eat me! I’m good for you!” But it also tells a dangerous pest, “Stay away from me!”

When it comes to deciphering the messages terpenes send, your nose definitely knows. There are about 400 scent “receptors” in your nose that can identify more than a trillion different scents. These receptors are hard-wired to various regions of your brain, including your memory. So, smelling terpenes not only helps us distinguish “yum” from “yuck” and almost everything in between, but also makes us remember things associated with those scents.

For example, the aroma of fresh-baked apple pie can whet your appetite, but it can also trigger a flood of memories about your grandmother. The smell of tainted meat can remind you of how sick you became the last time you ate something that smelled like that – 20 days ago or 20 years ago.

Once again, modern Medicine and Science are just beginning to understand what our ancestors already knew. Scent, especially the more than 100 different terpenes found in cannabis, can have a powerful, positive effect on the human body and mind. And in our next issue of Pipe Lines, you’ll find out how terpenes help improve the effects of Shango’s cannabis products for medical and rec users alike in Terpenes: 102!