Scents. Aromas. Fragrances. No matter which word you use, it’s one of the five senses that deals with smell. Whether it’s something sweet and floral or spicy and rich, aromas give objects, including cannabis plants, an extra layer to categorize them by. What you may not know is that these smells come from something called terpenes.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds that give plants, essential oils and cannabis its aroma. These aromatic oils are made up of hydrocarbon compounds, and sometimes, terpenes can create therapeutic effects – but we will come back to that in a moment.
Other than creating aromas, terpenes can also help repel predators and entice pollinators. With plants, terpenes can develop and range from one another due to a variety of factors, including climate, harvest times, light exposure, nutrient amounts, soil type, temperature, weather and more.
There are estimated to be over 20,000 types of terpenes in the world, including berry, citrus, diesel, grassy, herbal, minty, piney, spicy, tropical and woody. Terpenes can create complex, flavorful bouquets or pungent yet pleasant aromas.
Everyone has a preference when it comes to terpenes and its aromas and flavors, and this couldn’t be more true for cannabis.
Cannabis and Terpenes
As mentioned before, cannabis plants also have terpenes. In fact, at least 100 different terpenes can be found on a single cannabis plant. Since cannabis is often desired due to its specific scent, terpenes play a huge role in which strains are used and which ones aren’t. Many cultivators mix and match the terpenes to find the perfect combination for a strain. Terpenes also help with the cannabis plant’s regeneration and oxygenation.
Another interesting detail about terpenes in the cannabis plant is their interaction with cannabinoids. Both terpenes and cannabinoids (THCA and CBDA, for example) are found on the cannabis plant’s trichomes. Cannabis strains often have their own terpene and cannabinoid combination, which is called a chemovar.
Many scientists believe that terpenes and cannabinoids work together in something call the entourage effect.
Since terpenes come in so many different flavors and aromas, they can have different effects on users. Some of these effects can be therapeutic and offer some medicinal purposes. For example, some terpenes can help users relax while others can help them focus; terpenes can also elevate moods, reduce inflammation and increase energy.
With the entourage effect, some believe that when terpenes and cannabinoids work together, the terpenes’ therapeutic values are increased while terpenes can also determine how much cannabinoid is absorbed.
Many studies are still being done to look at the entourage effect and terpene’s therapeutic effects. Some studies are even looking at terpene’s effects on cancer, epilepsy and more.
Now that we have examined terpenes, their relationship with cannabis and possible therapeutic effects, let’s take a look at 12 examples of terpenes and what they can do for you.
- Bisabolol. Aroma: Floral. Effects: Can help heal skin and treat pain; antioxidant.
- Carene. Aroma: Sweet. Effects: Can help treat depression and get rid of excess body fluids.
- Caryophyllene. Aroma: Cloves, herbal, pepper, spicy, woody. Effects: Can relieve stress and help treat pain, anxiety and depression; antioxidant. *This is the only terpene that binds with a cannabinoid receptor
- Geraniol. Aroma: Fruity, rose, sweet. Effects: Can help repel insects; antioxidant.
- Humulene. Aroma: Earthy, hoppy, spicy, woody. Effects: Can help treat pain and inflammation and suppress appetites; antibacterial.
- Linalool. Aroma: Floral, spicy. Effects: Can help enhance moods or relax users; relieve stress; treat anxiety, depression, inflammation, insomnia and pain; and can round out THC effects.
- Limonene. Aroma: Citrus. Effects: Can help with weight loss; elevate moods; relieve stress; increase energy; treat anxiety, depression, inflammation and pain; and boost the immune system; antifungal and antibacterial.
- Myrcene. Aroma: Cloves, earthy, herbal, musky. Effects: Can help relax users; treat inflammation, insomnia and pain; and allows THC to take effect quicker and produce a higher psychoactive effect; antimutagenic. *This is the most common terpene and can be up to 65% of a cannabis plant’s terpene profile
- Ocimene. Aroma: Herbal, sweet, woody. Effects: Antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral and decongestant.
- Pinene. Aroma: Piney. Effects: Can help with alertness, memory retention and airflow; lessen the effects of THC; and treat asthma, anxiety, inflammation and pain. *There are two types: alpha and beta
- Pulegone. Aroma: Floral, minty. Effects: Can help nerve cells communicate; sedate users; and repel insects.
- Terpinolene. Aroma: Citrus, floral, herbal, piney. Effects: Can help uplift moods; repel insects; and treat insomnia and anxiety; antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant.