What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants, though many people commonly associate them with cannabis because cannabis plants contain high concentrations of them.

From Medical News Today,

You’re familiar with Strain Types (Sativa, Indica, Hybrids) and learned about the cannabinoids (THC and CBD), but now let’s talk about Terpenes. What are terpenes? Terpenes are a natural part of plants that were previously assumed to only affect the smell and taste. They are not specific to cannabis plants, and in fact, are a big of many plants.

Background

What Are Terpenes: terpenes and aromatherapy

In short, Terpenes are what make flowers and plants smell. They are found in flowers, herbs, and all types of plants, and even some animals, and are what are typically the driver for selecting plants for use in perfumes, foods, drinks, and even body products.

But they don’t just exist to make our lives smell and taste better, they are a larger contributor to the ecosystem, attracting pollinators, which of course is critical to the survival of the planet as we know it, and also a part of nature overall. They serve to attract and repel (pheromomes and protective scents), and also protect from natural elements, acting as the de facto immune system of plants.

The terpenes are, as we said, a natural part of the plant, associated with the flavor, scent, and taste. When a plant dries and is cured, the terpenes oxidize and become terpenoids.

Benefits of Terpenes

What Are Terpenes: terpenes and pollination

So we know that terpenes are beneficial to our lives by giving us aromas and flavors, and they’re beneficial to the plants and animals by contributing to pollination and protection, but there’s more to the potential benefits that just those. Science is starting to understand and research, beyond just aromatherapy, how many of these terpenes can also be beneficial to our health.

For centuries alternative healthcare practitioners have relied on the power of aromatherapy and the healing arts of herbs and other plants. Even modern medicine has taken note as many pharmaceutical grade treatments derive directly from these very plants, but there is more than just simple BELIEF and homeopathic basis for these outcomes. We know smells affect our moods and can reduce stress, but often we assume these results are based on our own individual experiences and preferences. They are, but we’re learning that there’s more to it than that.

Terpenes interact with the body. They are bioactive. And as such, the concentration and delivery method of the terpenes can have a different effect on the body. When combined with cannabis, and cannabinoids, they contribute to the entourage effect, as part of our natural endocannabinoid system.

Terpenes in Cannabis

We’re beginning to find out that there’s much more that it contributes to different strains than just flavor, although, let’s be honest, that’s also a big part of the experience!

There are quite literally HUNDREDS (if not more) types of terpenes, and they actually exist in other plants as well. But for the most common ones featured and studied when it comes to cannabis strains are outlined below.


Terpene


Aroma/Flavor


Therapeutic Potential

Bisabolol

·     Chamomile

·     Tea tree oil

·     Reduce inflammation

·     Reduce irritation

·     Pain-reducing effects

Caryophyllene

·     Peppery

·     Spicy

·     Reduce anxiety,

·     Ease symptoms of depression

·     Improve ulcers

Linalool

·     Floral

·     Improve relaxation

·     Boost mood

Myrcene

·     Earthy

·     Herbal

·     Reduce anxiety

·     Help ease insomnia 

Ocimene

·     Basil

·     Mango

·     Parsley

·     Ease congestion

·     Ward off viruses

·     Ward off bacteria

Pinene

·     Pine

·     Boost memory

·     Reduce pain

·     Ease nausea

·     Improve coordination problems

Terpinolene

·     Apples

·     Cumin

·     Conifers

·     Sedative

·     Antibacterial

·     Antifungal

Limonene

·     Citrus

·     Improve mood

·Reduce stress

Humulene

·     Earthy

·     Woody

·     Hops

·     Cloves

·     Reduce inflammation

Eucalyptol

·     Eucalyptus

·     Tea tree oil

·     Invigorating

·     Reduce inflammation

·     Fight bacteria

Conclusion

Terpenes in cannabis definitely add to the enjoyment, whether it’s the flavor or the smell. But there’s more to the power or terpenes than just that. Sure, the scents put us in a better mood, changing the baseline of the effect, but science is starting to show that the power of these compounds may have even more health benefits than we realized, and can increase the entourage effect and the overall experience. We are learning more every day, and it shouldn’t surprise us that naturally occurring protective compounds that have protected plants and our environment since the dawn of time would also be effective in helping us.

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