What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic molecules responsible for the flavor profiles and diverse scents found in botanicals, including cannabis. Terpenes are organic compounds and the natural oils that give your favorite cannabis strain a distinct smell and flavor, and essential oils too! Many people choose their cannabis strain based on THC %, and while that’s important, it may not be the only thing to look at when making your next purchase.
Terpenes are a natural oil that’s secreted in the flower’s sticky resin glands, called the trichromes. Each terpene, like each strain, has subtle differences in effect, smell and flavor. Whether you smoke flower, vaporize, or use concentrates, terpenes are delivering an array of aromatic profiles including pine, skunk, coffee, spicy, herbal, woody, diesel, citrus or cheese, just to name a few (there are upwards of 200 terpenes, in varying concentrations and combinations).
Not only do terpenes deliver the flavors and aromas to your favorite cannabis products, they’re also responsible for supporting other cannabis compounds, producing physiological and cerebral effects in addition to secondary metabolites and phytochemicals. When we use cannabis products – we are using it for its effects. The entourage effect is where we begin to look at terpenes and cannabis compounds and how they give us desired effects – recreationally and otherwise. Terpenes have direct interactions with the human body.
Terpenes and cannabinoids may either exaggerate or suppress effects, depending on which combination is present in each cultivar and how an individual responds to it. Mounting scientific evidence suggests that terpenes play a considerable role in not only tempering the intoxicating effects of THC, but also creating synergy with phytocannabinoids and even increasing their therapeutic value. For example, when alpha- and beta-pinene are consumed together, they display synergistic anti-tumor (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25188609/) properties on cancer cells.
Most Notable Terpenes
As mentioned above, there are nearly 200 terpene profiles found in cannabis, however only a handful are worth mentioning. Find below their aroma profiles and potential health benefits or see them on the Cannabuzz Hamilton terpene wheel below.
Most found in pine trees and other conifers, pinene is also responsible for the piney around of certain cannabis cultivars. Pinene may also have anti-inflammatory properties, may prevent ulcers and improve airflow to the lungs.
Mild floral scented Bisbolol is a common fragrances and cosmetics, its thought to heal skin and may reduce skin inflammation.
Linalool carries a pleasant aroma found in rosewood, bergamot, coriander, rose, rose, jasmine and lavender. Health benefits may include reducing inflammation, to inhibit the growth of fungal infections and may act as a anticonvulsant.
Antifungal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agents characterize woody scented Nerolidol.
Predominantly in hops, Humulene is one of the most common terpenes. Also present in sage, clove, black pepper and basil – it carries a hoppy aroma. Humulene may be an effective topical anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
Sweet, herbal scented Ocimene can act as anti-inflammatory and may have antiviral and antifungal properties.
Most found in citrus fruits in addition to cannabis, Limonene is commonly used in a variety of natural products such as fragrances and cleaning supplies. This citrusy terpene may boost the immune system and alleviate heartburn symptoms
Boasting herbal-citrus aromas, Terpinolene is commonly found in rosemary, conifers, lilacs and apples. Terpinolene may act as an antioxidant and have sedative properties.
Another predominant terpene, caryophyllene is found in hops, cloves and rosemary and carries a herbal aroma synonymous with these plants. It may have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
Guaiol is found in guaiacum and cypress pine. It has quintessentially piney aroma and has been identified as a antimicrobial in lab studies and has antioxidant properties.
This earthy dominant terpene is similar to other cannabis compounds and myrcene may be an effective anti-inflammatory and may help with pain reduction.
*We do not recommend products for any type of medical conditions, any possible health benefits listed above are not medical advice in any capacity.
Cannabis strains typically have a dominant terpene and may contain several others. Some believe cannabis terpenes may also contribute to the effect of a strain beyond their influence on aroma and flavour. However, there is no current scientific evidence linking terpenes to any health benefits or specific effects.
Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the way most plants smell. They are abundant in cannabis and many other plants, fruits and herbs.
In some cases, smelling specific essential oils, ingesting terpene-rich plants like cannabis, or spending time in areas with high terpene content may provide some health benefits to humans.
Researchers must continue to study terpenes to understand their potential therapeutic and medicinal uses fully.