Cannabis can cause a wide variety of effects. From increased focus and invigoration, to relaxation and creativity. In many effects, terpenes, elements, which define various herbal, spicy, fruity, floral tastes and aromas, have an important role. In the past few years, many scientists and cannabis users have been researching the potential benefits and mechanisms through which terpenes work.
There are from 80 to 100 different terpenes in cannabis, which can also be found in other plants. They are produced by many herbs, fruits and other plants. Furthermore, even some animals use terpenes (for example, swallowtail caterpillar picks terpenes from plants and uses the unpleasant smell for defence against its predators).
There are two expressions that are being used interchangeably. These are terpenes and terpenoids. Technically they describe the same thing, however terpenoids are found specifically in oxidized plant material (for example, when we dry and cure cannabis).
While plants produce natural terpenes, its synthetic versions can be produced in a lab. These can be used as food additives, or to create artificial tastes and aromas for various products. Terpenes are also used in aromatherapy with essential oils (some oils contain synthetic, others natural terpenes).
TERPENES AND THEIR EFFECTS
Terpenes are an aromatic molecules, which give a specific taste and smell to plants. They are the reason lavender has its famous soothing aroma and some cannabis strains have citrus, floral, or even woody smell and taste.
However, the power of terpenes goes beyond the nose and tongue effects. While it has been assumed for a long time, that only cannabinoids have a role in cannabis effects, it is being discovered that terpenes have an important role as well. Terpenes can bind to the same receptor’s cannabinoids do to create various effects. This makes terpenes knowledge even more interesting, as users can tailor their experience or medicinal use.
Because terpenes in cannabis differ from one strain to the other, this is also the reason (in combination with cannabinoids) one strain of cannabis stimulates and other causes relaxation. Researchers claim that combination of terpenes and cannabinoids is to thank for the entourage effect. Entourage effect means, that compounds work differently (mostly much better) when consumed together, rather than separately.
TERPENES IN CANNABIS
Cannabis terpenes do not only differ in regards to strains, but also from one harvest to the other. Each terpene presents unique properties, which result in plant effects in which it is found. While cannabis has many terpenes, most of the research and knowledge focuses on the most commonly found ones.
Terpene which is found in cannabis most commonly. It brings an earthy essence full of herbs and cloves. Myrcene can also be found in mango and herbs such as basil, lemon grass, and thyme. This terpene is co-responsible for the calming effects of cannabis (in strains with more than 0.5% this can also cause the so called “couch lock” effect). Among terpenes it is also known for its anti-inflammatory and analgetic effects.
Some researchers speculate, that myrcene increases the absorption and activation of THC. It has a boiling point at 167 degrees Celsius.
Linalool creates a floral, lavender aroma in cannabis. It is also found in lavender. Whoever is familiar with lavender essential oil, knows the benefits of linalool, which has anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and analgetic properties. There are studies, that research the use of linalool in treating neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Its boiling point is at 198 degrees Celsius.
Similarly, to linalool, terpinolene also offers a soothing effect and gentle floral aroma. It also contains herbal and woody smells. This terpene is an excellent sedative and it also works antibacterial and as an antioxidant. Besides cannabis, we can also find it in nutmeg, cumin, apples, and pines. Its boiling point is at 50 degrees Celsius.
Humulene is known among terpenes for its anti-inflammatory effects, and brings a calming earthy and woody smell. It can also be found in coriander, cloves, basil, and hops. Its boiling point is at 106 degrees Celsius.
Cannabis terpene, which combines floral and herbal aromas with pines. This terpene is great in fighting with intruders such as viruses and bacteria. It also works as a decongestant. It can be found in mint, basil, parsley, pepper, and mango and has a boiling point at 50 degrees Celsius.
Every cannabis strain with a strong spicy smell and taste, most probably contains larger amounts of caryophyllene among its terpenes. It can be found in black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. As expected, it brings a spicy experience with aromas of wood, cloves, and pepper. This terpene is good for soothing anxiety and stress, as well as pain mitigation. Its boiling point comes up to 130 degrees Celsius.
Guaiol has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Due to pine aroma, it is often compared to pinene (which is suitable as it is also found in cypress trees). It also works as an efficient insecticide. Contrary to pinene, guaiol is no an oil but sesquiterpenoid alcohol. Its boiling point is at 92 degrees Celsius.
Limonene is known for its citrus notes. Besides fruit, it can also be found in peppermint, rosemary, and juniper. It has anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects. Furthermore, it can also work in battling tumours and is connected to anti-inflammatory and analgetic properties. Its boiling point is at 176 degrees Celsius.
As its name suggests, pinene is commonly found in pine needles and has a pine aroma. It is also present in herbs such as rosemary, parsley, basil, and dill. Pinene can be used to soothe the effects of THC. It also has analgetic, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumour properties. Moreover, it is also very successful in treating asthma. Its boiling point is at 155 degrees Celsius.
It is found in chamomile and has a sweet and gentle floral aroma. With its anti-inflammatory and analgetic properties, it is great at mitigating pain. Furthermore, it has anti-microbial properties and is a great antioxidant. Its boiling point is at 153 degrees Celsius.
Terpene, which is also found in heavily aromatic substances such as camphor oil, turpentine, ginger, and citronella. Camphene has a fir tree needle and woody smell. Research suggest it could help in cholesterol regulation. Its boiling point is at 159 degrees Celsius.
It has a sweet floral scent, which reminds us of geranium (where it is also found). Due to this fact, it is one of the most popular terpenes in cosmetics and relaxation products. It comes with many beneficial effects such as neuroprotection, anti-tumour properties, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral. Its boiling point is at 230 degrees Celsius.
It is found in Valencia oranges and has an expected citrusy smell. It is great for fighting inflammation and proven to work as an insect repellent. Its boiling point is at 123 degrees Celsius.
It is often found in cannabis strains with high levels of pinene. Similarly, to pinene, it has a fresh, piny smell. This terpene is also found in many trees, from pines, to eucalyptus tree. Some of its therapeutic properties include anti-inflammation, anti-tumour, and antibiotic effect. It also works as a calming treatment for anxiety. Its boiling point is at 219 degrees Celsius.
Known for its distinct peppermint smell, we can find larger concentrations of pulegone in rosemary. It is researched for its fever decreasing ability and calming effects. Pulegone can enable a better communication between nerve cells in the brain, by decomposing acetylcholine. Furthermore, it is very good in working against short term memory loss, which can occur from THC consumption. Its boiling point is at 223 degrees Celsius.
Known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-fungal properties, sabinene has a citrus, spicy aroma, with a touch of pine. Besides cannabis it can also be found in black pepper, basil, and common spruce. Its boiling point is at 163 degrees Celsius.