As you shop for medical marijuana products, you’re going to hear the word ‘terpene’ quite frequently. This is a good thing -- and here we’re going to break down exactly what terpenes are and why they are beneficial for users of extracts and other cannabis products.
What do terpenes do?
The cool thing about terpenes is that they play two main roles in a plant -- they play a role in giving the plant its distinctive aromas and flavors. Terpenes are often termed as “the essential oils” of a plant, with aromas varying from a pungent, musky fragrance to lighter, citrus scents.
All categories of cannabis possess a slightly different terpene profile. You may choose a certain strain or extract based on a terpene and its benefits, such as the herbal aroma found in Abstrax CIS-beta Ocimene extract or the more citrusy Alpha-Phellandrene.
Terpenes in History
Our obsession with terpenes can be traced back throughout human history. The first humans were inhabitants of the forest or the savanna, environments enveloped by natural aromatic (fragrant) compounds, one of which is terpenes. These fragrances produce aromatic compounds.
To get all scientific for a moment, terpenes are fragrance-emitting volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons which are made by every flower, plant, and even some insects. But you don’t need to memorize that. What you need to know is this -- the healing properties of terpenes can be enjoyed in several vehicles – not just cannabis, though the growth of medical marijuana has been embraced outside of the cannabis community largely because of the positive benefits of terpenes.
According to the Huffington Post, terpenes particularly enhance the medicinal value of oil extracts. With the understanding of which terpenes could work the best to ease specific illnesses, patients can make use of cannabis more effectively.
The most prominent and popular terpenes in the psychoactive drug - cannabis are found in multiple varieties of essential oils as well and get absorbed through the skin, by diffusion, ingestion, and inhalation for the purpose of aromatherapy. Terpenes are the main ingredients (organic compounds) that give essential oils their fragrance, aromas, medicinal benefits and flavors.
Let us say, for example, that you notice relaxing effects after indulging in a bit of Master Kush. This is because the strain contains high levels of linalool, a terpene found to be quite relaxing by a study published in Science News. A few days later, you spread lavender lotion across your arms and legs, and notice the same feeling. It’s that linalool again!
A large amount of linalool is present in lavender, so it can be diffused in a lavender lotion, or even in tea to perform symbiotically with the terpene found in a specific cannabis strain. Some entities are even mixing essential oil in with their carbon dioxide oil to enhance certain impacts when vaporized.
Terpenes in Aromatherapy
Essential oils are also commonly used in aromatherapy, where different oils are combined to play off effects of each other. Since there are thousands of terpenes available in nature, there is no single aromatherapy item that offers you all of them. The only way to receive some positive effects of multiple terpenes is proper blending. The synergistic impacts of essential oils are very powerful and if several oils are mixed in an appropriate manner, the effects are even more powerful.
Terpenes in Cannabis
Terpenes have a significant role in differentiating the impacts of various cannabis strains. Some of the terpenes promote stress–relief and relaxation, while some others enhance acuity and focus.
Some of the terpenes found in cannabis strains are:
Myrcene has an aroma that is earthy, musky, and herbal – akin to cloves. It is found in the oil of citrus fruits, eucalyptus, hops, bay leaves, lemon grass, wild thyme, and many other plants. In the case of cannabinoids (like THC), it stimulates the effect of the cannabinoid.
Abstrax’ Beta-Pinene has a distinctive scent of pine and fir. Pinene is known for anti-inflammatory properties and, because of its odor, might remind you of Christmas time.
Limonene has a strong citrusy smell like limes, lemons and oranges. Cannabis strains high in limonene stimulate general uplift in attitude and mood. This citrusy terpene is the primary constituent in rosemary, citrus fruit rinds, juniper and peppermint, and pine needle oils. Limonene is quickly absorbed by inhalation and swiftly appears in the bloodstream. It has very low toxicity.
It is found in many plants such as cloves, black pepper, Thai basils, lavender and cinnamon leaves and has a woody, spicy and peppery aroma. It is the only terpene that interacts with the endocannabinoid system (CB2). High-caryophyllene strains are useful in treatment of a number of medical issues such as neuropathy pain and arthritis.
Linalool promotes relaxing and calming effects. It is commonly found in lavender and several other spices and flowers.
Terpinolene is a component of rosemary and sage and is present in the oil derived from Monterey cypress. It has a piney aroma with floral and herbal nuances. It has a sweet flavor reminiscent of citrus fruits like lemons and oranges.
Phellandrene has a pepperminty and light scent of citrus. It is one of the major compounds in turmeric leaf oil, used to treat systemic fungal infections. It is the easiest terpene to be identified as it can only be detected in the essential oils of some species such as Eucalyptus
Phellandrene is present in a number of herbs and spices, like garlic, cinnamon, dill, parsley and ginger. Alpha-Phellandrene is known for anti-fungal properties.
Carene, found in our Delta-3-Carene extract, has a sweet, pungent odor and is present in many healthy, beneficial essential oils, including juniper berry oil, cypress oil, and fir needle essential oils. Delta-3-carene is also naturally present in bell pepper, pine extract, basil oil, orange juices, grapefruit, citrus peel oils from fruits like limes, tangerines, lemons, mandarins, oranges and kumquats.
Humulene is present in Sativa strains, hops and Vietnamese coriander and has a distinct ‘hoppy’ aroma. It is commonly blended with Beta–caryophyllene.
Pulegone is a minor component of cannabis and has a peppermint aroma. Higher concentrations are present in rosemary.
Sabinene aromas are reminiscent of pines, oranges and other spices. Sabinene is found in many plants including black pepper, Norway spruce, basil and Myristica fragrans, and is a popular terpene isolate from Abstrax.
Geraniol produces smell similar to roses and serves as an effective mosquito repellant.