Terpenes 101

written by Neobud

Picture yourself strolling through a lush garden, surrounded by vibrant flowers and trees. Each plant has a unique fragrance, a distinct smell that fills the air and awakens your senses. These fragrances come from terpenes, aromatic molecules that are present in all plants.

In cannabis, terpenes are responsible for the wide range of aromas, flavors, and colors found in each strain. They are believed to have medicinal properties that are distinct from those of cannabinoids, adding to the many health benefits of the plant.

What's more, the terpenes in cannabis work together to create what is known as the entourage effect. This phenomenon occurs when different terpenes and cannabinoids interact with one another, amplifying their therapeutic effects and producing a unique psychoactive experience.

So, the next time you indulge in your favorite cannabis strain, take a moment to appreciate the bouquet of fragrances that make it so special. You never know, the particular terpenes in that strain may be contributing to its therapeutic effects and overall appeal.

β-caryophyllene: This sesquiterpene is commonly found in plants like Thai basil, cloves, and black pepper. It has a rich, spicy odor and is known for its antiseptic, anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. In cannabis, it has an affinity for the CB2 endocannabinoid receptor and is believed to contribute to a strain's particular psychoactive influence, known as the entourage effect.

Terpinene: A monoterpene in the terpinene subfamily of terpenes, terpinolene has antioxidant, immune-modulating, and anti-fungal properties. It has been historically used to treat insomnia and can be found in plants such as oregano, marjoram, cumin, lilac, some citrus rinds, and conifers.

α-Pinene: This terpene is important in plants, animals, and the environment. It acts as a bronchodilator and helps with congestion, and also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be found in conifer trees, orange peel, pine needles, and more. It is known for its sharp, sweet odor.

Linalool: This simple terpene alcohol is known for the pleasant floral odor it gives to lavender plants. Also known as β-linalool, licareol, or linalyl alcohol, it has been used for thousands of years as a sleep aid. It is also critical for the formulation of vitamin E and is often used today to relieve pain and treat psychosis, anxiety, and epilepsy.

β-Myrcene: One of the most important compounds in the list of cannabis terpenes, β-Myrcene helps in the formation of other terpenes. This terpene is common in cannabis, fresh mango, hops, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and more. It is known to be an antitumor and anti-inflammatory and can be used in the treatment of spasms, insomnia, and pain. β-Myrcene also helps chemicals access the brain more easily, allowing cannabinoids like THC to take effect more quickly.

Limonene: D-limonene is a cyclic terpene with a strong citrus scent and bitter taste. It has been used in medicine, food, perfume, and even citrus-based cleaners. D-limonene has very low toxicity, making it effective in the treatment of gastric reflux, depression, and anxiety. It has also been shown to have antitumor and immunostimulant properties.

Humulene: This sesquiterpene, like β-caryophyllene, is commonly found in aromatic plants such as hops, cannabis sativa strains, Vietnamese coriander, and more. It is what gives beer its hoppy aroma and has antitumor, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anorectic (appetite-suppressing) properties. In Chinese medicine, Humulene is commonly blended with β-caryophyllene to treat inflammation.

Understanding the unique terpenes in cannabis can be confusing, but paying attention to the different aromas and tastes of your favorite cannabis products can help.