What are Terpenes?
The word “terpenes” is commonly referred to when it comes to flavoring hemp products. In terms of cannabis, terpenes play a significant role. As new research is presented, we are beginning to understand that cannabis is more than its cannabinoid content. In fact, cannabis is composed of many compounds that interact in therapeutic ways.
Plant terpenes are a natural component of cannabis that gives the plant a potent aromaticity. Cannabis varieties have a complex scent and flavor because of terpenes, such as citrus, pine, and mint. As of now, over 200 terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant; each cannabis strain has a unique terpene profile.
Terpenes are a major component of resin and are secreted in trichomes, which are tiny hairs that produce secretion. These glands that also produce cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Terpenes are by no means exclusive to the cannabis plant; they can be found in other herbs, fruits, and plants as well. Similar to other plants, terpenes are developed to attract pollinators, repel predators, protect the plant from environmental stressors.
Terpenes: More Than Aromatics
Terpenes are more than just their complex aromaticity. Not only do they help create a diverse selection of cannabis flavors, but they also play an instrumental role in the effect of cannabis.
THC has remained a main focus of cannabis research since it was isolated in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam. Only in recent years have researchers given a close examination of CBD and other cannabinoids. Since the focus of cannabis has laid on cannabinoid content, researchers are just now beginning to explore the benefits of terpenes. From this research, we are discovering that terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids in what is known as the entourage effect.
The Entourage Effect
Similar to cannabinoids, terpenes interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the body to produce various effects. The effect of interaction can vary from terpene to terpene.
Additionally, terpenes moderate our body’s interaction with cannabinoids. This synergy between cannabis compounds is known as the entourage effect. Research on the entourage effect has shown that the cannabis plant can be more effective as a whole in comparison to its individual parts. This research has opened the door for new studies on the interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes.
Some terpenes are referred to as primary terpenes as they are most prevalent in cannabis strains.
Scent: sharp, pine
Effects: anti-inflammatory, promotes alertness, counters short-term memory loss
Also found in: conifer trees, orange peels, pine needles, rosemary
Scent: floral, spice
Effects: calming, sedative, anti-inflammatory
Also found in: lavender, coriander, birch, rosewood
Scent: musky, herbal
Effects: antibiotic, sedative, anti-inflammatory
Also found in: mangoes, hops, thyme, lemongrass
Effects: elevated mood, stress relief, antifungal
Also found in: citrus rinds, juniper, peppermint
Scent: fragrant, herbal
Effects: antifungal, decongestant, antibacterial
Also found in: mint, pepper, basil, orchids
Scent: floral, herbal
Effects: antioxidant, sedative, antibacterial
Also found in: nutmeg, tea tree, conifers, apples
Scent: floral, pine
Effects: antioxidant, sedative, anti-inflammatory
Also found in: lilacs, pine trees, lime blossoms, eucalyptus sap