When we observe a Cannabis plant, one of the first things striking us probably is the scent; this due to terpenes, generating its distinctive aroma.
Terpenes are biomolecules with the quality of conferring odors and flavours to plants. In nature, there are over three thousand terpenes present in several plant species.
The same glands that produce CBD and THC produce terpenes.
Terpenes are used as a defense mechanism by the cannabis plants, using their pungent aroma to ward off insects and infestation.
Although people often think of terpenes as responsible for the flavor and fragrance of a marijuana strain, they are much more than this.
Yes, they are the reason that our senses can tell one strain of cannabis from another, but these versatile compounds play a much bigger part in the cannabis plant lifecycle.
Before we cover this, let’s discuss the terpene molecules function within the cannabis plant.
Terpenes are not exclusive to cannabis and can be found in almost all fruits, plants and vegetables. They are also found in some animal species, although this is very rare.
Terpenes in Cannabis
In cannabis, they serve multiple purposes at once. They work as a natural defense system, defending the plant against bacteria, pests, prey, and all other types of invasion that could be harmful. They also work as a primordial sunscreen, protecting the plant’s buds from harmful UV rays.
Similar to their chemical cousins the cannabinoids, terpenes are more prevalent in the flowers of the female cannabis plant. The flowers are actually the most important part of the cannabis plant, not just for us humans, but for the plant itself, as this is the are where the seeds appear after pollination is complete.
There is a huge variety of terpenes, with over a hundred that have been discovered so far, many of which can be found present in marijuana.
Terpenes can be present in many different plants, because of this, some cannabis strains taste similar to fruits, berries, citrus, or even pine.
Myrcene is the terpene responsible for the pungent smell that we associate with all varieties of weed, a fragrance admired by many.
Myrcene is actually unique to the cannabis plant and hasn’t been found in no other species.
When choosing a strain of cannabis, terpene profiles should be carefully considered. Some work wonders for pain, others relieve inflammation. For example, Linalool is
fantastic at reducing the symptoms associated with arthritis.
Limonene, is present in many citrus fruits. Therefore the strains containing this terpene emit a citrusy aroma. Caryophyllene is part of many green vegetables, and spices such as rosemary and oregano.
How Terpenes Work With CBD and THC
As well as offering therapeutic properties themselves, terpenes work very well when combined with cannabinoids. This occurrence has been labeled the ‘Entourage Effect’ throughout the scientific community.
In layman’s terms, terpenes speed up the time it takes for cannabinoids to enter our bloodstream. Linalool, as an example, changes how our neurotransmitters react to cannabinoids. This creates both sedative and anxiolytic sensations.
Another great example of the ‘entourage effect’ at work is the way it affects CBD, (with the help of terpenes), lessening the long-term memory loss associated with THC, and helping to diminish the psycho-activity of THC overall.
Having prior knowledge of terpenes is useful for patients that want to get the most out of their medical marijuana prescriptions. As research progresses in this field, new benefits that terpenes provide as certain to surface.
The Terpenes present in Cannabis
Terpenes demonstrated to be able to act synergistically, contributing to creating the phytocannabinoid frame of the cannabis plant.
Terpenes can be found in major concentrations in the female plants of Cannabis which are not pollinated; quantity and composition obviously change according to the genetics of the plant and the conditions in which it has been cultivated.
Scientific studies demonstrate the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anxiolytic, neuroprotectant, antimutagenic, antiallergic, antibiotic and anti-diabetic properties of terpenes.
Myrcene is one of the main terpenes present in the plant and characterizes several varieties with a musky aroma and with fragrances recalling cloves.
Amongst the characteristics of myrcene, we can find alleviating the symptoms of chronic pain and reducing inflammations: this occurs due to the bond which is created with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, permitting in this manner the analgesic response on our organism.
As the most concentrated terpene in the cannabis plant, Myrcene is used as a sleep aid in several countries and can contribute to the ‘cough-lock’ effect associated with THC.
Myrcene is popular in the perfume industry because of its pleasant smell, and can also be found in hops preparations.
Effects of Myrcene
- Analgesic (Painkiller)
- Muscle relaxant
Limonene is a terpene that is found in low concentrations in the cannabis plant but is the second most common terpene in nature. Limonene can be found in limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits.
Limonene is commonly added to natural health products and cosmetics, most commonly for its relief of acid reflux and heartburn.
Effects of Limonene
- Anxiolytic (fights anxiety)
- Treats acid reflux and heartburn
- Fights acne
Pinene has anti-inflammatory ad neuro-stimulating characteristics and contributes to improving memory.
Effects of α-Pinene
- Bronchodilator (at low levels)
- Aids memory
In linalool sedative qualities can be observed and it would help to contrast insomnia.
Caryophyllene ( β-caryophyllene) is another concentrated terpene found in cannabis. It’s also one of the only terpenes proven to act on the endocannabinoid system. Research shows that Caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors well, but not CB1 receptors, meaning that it is non-psychoactive.
Caryophyllene is present in black pepper and is thought to contribute to its spice levels.
Effects of Caryophyllene
- Gastrointestinal protection
- Fights malaria
Humulene has antibacterial qualities and would help to diminish appetite, contributing to its painkilling effects.
The research into cannabis terpenes has only just begun. However, we’ll be keeping all of our readers up to date with any breakthroughs within the CBD industry.
For more information, or to view our extensive range of premium CBD products, click here today.