What are Terpenes?
Produced in the glands of the cannabis plant, terpenes are the essential oils that give cannabis varieties their distinct smells, experiences, and therapeutic benefits. In cannabis they are responsible for the “uplifting” effects of a Sativa variety, or the sedative properties of Indica varieties. The distinct aromatic properties of cannabis and other plants are identified as berry, citrus, pine, or spice. The function and diversity of terpenes and flavonoids in cannabis is attributed to the evolutionary need for the plant to deter certain predators & disease or attract pollinators, as well as manage environmental factors. In the human body, terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids to deliver what is known as an entourage effect of therapeutic benefit.
The most prominent terpenes and their benefits are as follows:
- Alpha-Pinene: The aromatic compound largely found in coniferous trees, and certain varieties of the cannabis plant. Potential effects and benefits include, anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, as well as promotes alertness, and improves memory retention.
- Myrcene: The aromatic compound found in cardamom, cloves, musky, and earthy. Myrcene is the terpene most associated with the sedating effects of many varieties of cannabis. Potential benefits and effects include antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and sedative.
- Limonene: The aromatic compound found in citrus fruits, juniper and peppermint. Limonene has been reported by patients to be mood elevating and stress relieving. Other potential effects and benefits include anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory.
- Beta-Caryophyllene: The aromatic compound found in black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and oregano. B-Caryophyllene is the only known terpene to bind to the CB2 receptor, and functions similarly to cannabinoids. Potential benefits and effects include anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and anticarcinogenic.
- Linalool: The floral aromatic compound found in lavender. Potential benefits and effects include anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, muscle relaxant, and anti-degenerative in the nervous system.
- Humulene: The aromatic compound found in hops, cloves, and basil. Potential benefits and effects include, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative.
- Terpinolene: The aromatic compound found in nutmeg, tea tree, conifers, apples, cumin, and lilacs. Potential benefits and effects include antioxidant, sedative, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-carcinogenic.
- Ocimene: The aromatic compound found in mint, parsley, pepper, basil, mangoes, orchids, and kumquats. Potential benefits and effects include antiviral, anti-fungal, antiseptic, decongestant, and antibacterial.