Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants, Plants developed terpenes to ward off herbivores that might eat them and to attract helpful predators and pollinators. Cannabis and hemp produce many different terpenes this is what gives each individual cultivar (strain) its smell and aroma. Terpenes can have a strong effect on the body, they can affect the neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain and can even mimic some of the same effects as certain antidepressants. Terpenes bind to our receptors in the brain, they work synergistically with our endocannabinoid system to create healthy homeostasis in our body. Each individual terpene is associated with unique effects, the main terpenes found in cannabis are still being researched extensively today and we are learning more and more each day about these amazing molecules and how they can be incorporated into our CBD oils to enhance our daily lives.
So why do Terpenes make such a difference?
- Terpenes have medical benefits, like all cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp they work synergistically with other compounds benefitting your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
- Terpenes give cannabis and hemp their natural flavour and aroma
A very interesting study by Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology discusses the wide range of attributes of terpenes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/ CBD oil is commonly used for its relaxing effects, however, it can also help to provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, reduce stress and anxiety. Thus adding extra terpenes to CBD oil can potentially enhance certain medicinal values. Here are the 5 most common terpenes found in cannabis and hemp.
Beta-caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene found in many plants such as Thai basils, cloves, cinnamon leaves and black pepper, and in minor quantities in lavender. Its aroma has been described as peppery, woody and/or spicy. Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system (CB2). Studies show B–caryophyllene holds promise in cancer treatment plans. Research shows shows that B–caryophyllene selectively binds to the CB2 receptor and that it is a functional CB2 agonist. Further, B–caryophyllene was identified as a functional non-psychoactive CB2 receptor ligand in foodstuff and as a macrocyclic anti-inflammatory cannabinoid in cannabis.
- Stress relief
Linalool is a monoterpenoid and has been described as having floral and lavender undertones. Varieties high in linalool promote calming, relaxing effects. Linalool has been used for centuries as a sleep aid. Linalool lessens the anxious emotions provoked by pure THC, thus making it helpful in the treatment of both psychosis and anxiety. Studies also suggest that linalool boosts the immune system; can significantly reduce lung inflammation; and can restore cognitive and emotional function (making it useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease).
- Mood enhancement also aids in sedation
Akin to its name, pinene has distinctive aromas of pine and fir. Pinene is one of the principal monoterpene that is important physiologically in both plants and animals. It tends to react with other chemicals, forming a variety of other terpenes (like limonene) and other compounds. Pinene is used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator and local antiseptic. Clinical studies indicate that the effects of THC may be lessened if mixed with pinene.
- Bronchodilator (helps open airways)
- May help combat short-term memory impairment associated with THC
Limonene is a monoterpenoid and one of two major compounds formed from pinene. As the name suggests, varieties high in limonene have strong citrusy smells like oranges, lemons and limes. Strains high in limonene promote a general uplift in mood and attitude. This citrusy terpene is the major constituent in citrus fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper and peppermint, as well as in several pine needle oils. Limonene is highly absorbed by inhalation and quickly appears in the bloodstream. Clinical studies have shown that it assists in the absorption of other terpenes through the skin and other body tissue.
- Elevated mood
- Stress relief
- Anti-fungal properties
- Antibacterial properties
- May help relieve heartburn and gastric reflux
- Improves absorption of other terpenes and chemicals by way of the skin, mucous membranes, and digestive tract
Myrcene, specifically -myrcene, is a monoterpene and the most common terpene produced by cannabis (some varieties contain up to 60% of the essential oil). Its aroma has been described as musky, earthy, herbal – akin to cloves. A high myrcene level in cannabis (usually above 0.5%) results in the well-known “couch-lock” effect of classic Indica medicinal cannabis strains. Myrcene is found in oil of hops, citrus fruits, bay leaves, eucalyptus, wild thyme, lemon grass and many other plants. Myrcene has some very special medicinal properties, including lowering the resistance across the blood to brain barrier, allowing itself and many other chemicals to cross the barrier easier and more quickly.