What are terpenes?
Terpenes are a large and diverse group of volatile oils that are found in numerous plants. They’re also what gives cannabis its signature scent and flavor. The cannabis plant contains over 200 varieties of terpenes. You already experience terpenes in your everyday life. Simply put, terpenes determine how things smell. For example, terpenes are what give lemons, oranges, and limes their citrusy smell. They give pine trees their unique fresh aroma. They’re even responsible for the relaxing effects in lavender.
More than just a pretty scent.
However, there’s far more to terpenes than simply flavor and aroma. Yes, it’ true that Cannabinoids like CBD attract all the headlines when it comes to medical cannabis. Yet it’s the interaction between the terpenes and the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that create its various medicinal effects – known as the “entourage effect”.
“What’s the entourage effect?”
The “entourage effect” is the term used to describe how cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, along with other compounds including terpenes, are meant to work together. Many believe that the whole plant does the best job, not just a single compound.
Perhaps the most exciting thing being discovered about terpenes is their role in the “entourage effect” and how they are being used to enhance specific effects and purposes for products made with broad-spectrum and full-spectrum hemp. Therefore it’s important to realize that although cannabinoids are compounds in the cannabis plant that causes healing, it’s also been discovered that terpenes can play a big role in that as well. While relief does come from using a CBD oil or a THC oil, whole plant therapy has been the most common use. Terpenes can intensify or downplay the effects of the cannabinoids. Utilizing all the compounds and terpenes in the plant may just be the best way after all.
8 Popular terpenes you may already know…
Let’s take a look at some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis and compare their different aromas and their medical properties.
Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. It’s known for its sedative effects. Found predominantly in thyme, parsley and bay leaf, Myrcene has a strong peppery, and spicy scent. It’s known in medicine as an analgesic (a pain killer), and it’s also a powerful antioxidant that is beneficial to general health and wellbeing.
Linalool is a terpene with a robust floral scent. It’s also found in lavender, birch trees, and mint. Another painkilling, anti-inflammatory terpene, Linalool is also a sedative with anti-anxiety effects. Linalool has also been shown to be an anticonvulsant that works in much the same way as Diazepam to treat nausea.
Limonene, as you may have guessed is a terpene with a strong citrus aroma. It’s primarily found in citrus fruits like limes, lemons, and oranges, especially in the rind. This high energetic terpene is known for its anti-depressant qualities. Medicinally Limonene has both anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties and historically has been used as a home remedy for both acne and athletes’ foot.
Caryophyllene has a woody, peppery scent and is known to be a strong anti-inflammatory with gastro-protective agents. It also has a spicy and peppery aroma that is widely used as the main ingredient in chewing gum. Both a painkiller and anti-inflammatory, beta caryophyllene’s medical benefits don’t stop there. It’s also an antioxidant and gastric-protective making it great digestive aid.
Even though Eucalyptol got its name from the eucalyptus plant, it’s found in many other plants, including cannabis. Another terpene with anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, Eucalyptol has been used for millennia as a decongestant. It’s also used as an effective treatment for asthma. Eucalyptol can be used to treat pain and depression and is very beneficial to people with arthritis pain. It’s also known to slow down the growth of cancer cells.
Delta-3-Carene is found in basic, bell pepper, cedar, pine and rosemary among several plants. It can be used to treat inflammation and excess bodily fluids such as a runny nose. It can also be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and can repair bones.
The terpene responsible for the scent of roses and geraniums, geraniol has a strong floral character. Its medical benefits include the customary pain relief, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects common to many terpenes, but it’s also an antifungal that also makes for an effective mosquito repellent. Used widely in bath and body products due to its perfume-like scent, geraniol is also used in topical drugs because it aids absorption through the skin.
This terpene is what gives pine trees their signature aroma. Found in large quantities in conifer trees, rosemary and turpentine trees, alpha-pinene is a natural insecticide that protects plants from parasites and also has antibacterial properties. Additionally, it’s a bronchodilator which means it is effective at opening the airways in the lungs making it useful for asthma sufferers.