Terpenes are the constituents that give cannabis its typical smell and taste. Some of the more abundant terpenes include myrcene, pinene, humulene and terpineol. The presence of terpenes in our placebo make subjects believe they use ‘real’ cannabis, even when they receive no cannabinoids. Our products have been successfully used in several clinical trials (see references below).
Nonetheless, some terpenes may have a (mild) therapeutic effect on their own. This raises the question as to why terpenes are present in placebo cannabis. After all, a placebo is supposed to be therapeutically inactive. That is because without terpenes, a placebo would not smell or taste like the real medicine, and subjects would quickly guess they are not receiving real medicinal cannabis. This would unblind the study, with major effects on the study outcome. Also, the effect of the terpenes is considered to be minor compared to the much more potent cannabinoids.
Because we decide to add terpenes to our placebo, we have to make sure that their profile exactly matches that of the active cannabis used in the study. After all, if some terpenes do have a (mild) biological effect, the effect should be at least be the same for active and placebo cannabis. For this reason, each active Bedrocan cannabis variety comes with its own matching placebo.