Our planet is enriched with an array of molecules that are vital to our survival. One of the most diverse is terpenes. There are more than 20 thousand terpenes present throughout nature, with an estimated 200 spread across cannabis cultivars. For cannabis breeders, the terpene profile may be just as important as the active cannabinoid count.
What is a terpene?
In layman’s terms, a terpene is an organic, aromatic compound, and essential oil. The reason that cannabis breeders cherish terpenes so much is because of their unique aromas. Natures diverse scents is primarily due to terpenes. As a matter of fact, police dogs are trained to smell terpenes, as opposed to cannabis’s cannabinoids; or in particular, the psychoactive cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Cannabis terpenes are not just popular among breeders, your average cannabis enthusiast may choose their favourite cannabis strain because of its terpenes. Are you familiar with OG Kush? It’s a popular cannabis strain within the cannabis community. Its woody and spicy aroma is due to the terpene – B-Caryophyllene. Or how about Lemon Kush and Jacke Herrer? Known for their citric aroma, which is due to the abundant presence of the terpene, Limonene – the compound that give lemons their punch.
Do terpenes offer therapeutic value?
Terpenes marvel goes beyond their beautiful aromas that are present throughout nature. They are one of natures finest gifts; acting as a defence mechanism for plants, protecting them from strong sunlight and predator’s, whilst also acting as a pollinator. Furthermore, the therapeutic value of terpenes is staggering. They are a major factor as to why we must eat our “five a day”.
Simultaneously, terpenes offer various types of efficacy for anyone who maintains a balanced diet or regularly consumes cannabis. Their major offerings include pain relief, a reduction of inflammation, and anti-cancer agents.
When it comes to terpenes and cannabis, their range of scents and diverse therapeutic offerings may potentially be just as valuable as cannabinoids. With a collection of more than 300 terpenes and cannabinoids present across the 40 thousand plus cannabis species, future cannabis research is a mouth-watering prospect. Which leaves one to wonder, where would modern medicine be today without cannabis prohibition?
What are the major terpenes in cannabis and where can you find them in common foods?
There are three popular traits with terpenes – Medicinal value, bountiful aromas, and a ubiquitous presence throughout nature.
Here are the most common terpenes which are found in cannabis, along with their therapeutic value, variety of sources, and their aromatic value to nature:
This terpene is extremely popular amongst cannabis connoisseurs, due to its aromatic blend of peppers, spice, and wood. In a similar fashion to cannabinoids, BPC binds to the endocannabinoid-systems CB2 receptors; proving to be effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety. It is also a natural analgesic so is often used as a source of pain relief.
As well as cannabis, BCP is also present in black pepper, rosemary, hops, and cinnamon.
One of natures finest anti-inflammatory agents. Its medicinal value is extraordinary and is often used as an additional remedy for cancer treatment. Limonene also offers relief to sufferers of anxiety and depression.
Limonene is the second most common terpene that is present in the cannabis species and is also found in citrus fruits. Its citric aroma has proven popular among both cannabis cultivators and consumers.
Generally the most potent of terpenes that is present within the range of cannabis cultivars. Its relationship with cannabis is closer than any other terpene. Its quantity decides whether the strain is categorised as an Indica or a Sativa. Myrcene is a natural sedative and is a natural remedy for insomnia. Any cannabis sample that contains more than 0.5% Myrcene will determine the strain as cannabis Indica.
As well as being the most common terpene present in cannabis, Myrcene can also be found in lemongrass, thyme, and hops.
Were you aware that cannabis and beer have something in common? Humulene is abundant in hops and common among a variety of cannabis cultivars.
Possessing an earthy and woody scent powerful, acting as an anti-inflammatory and ever-present in basil, cloves, and coriander.
Another sedative terpene is linalool. An excellent remedy for insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Linalool is also an anti-epileptic and analgesic. Featuring a floral aroma that is responsible for lavenders unique scent.
The terpene Alpha-Pinene has such a bond with the CB2 receptor that it counteracts the intoxicating effects of THC. Packing a pine aroma, Alpha-Pinene is also present in pine needles, dill, parsley, and basil.
This terpene is capable to raise alertness levels and is great for memory retention as well as anyone suffering from anxiety or depression.
Another terpene that is known for its sedative effects is terpinolene. Scientific studies have proven that terpinolene is another one of natures compounds that have proven successful as an anti-cancer agent.
Terpinolene possesses a piney and floral aroma. As well as being popular among cannabis strains, terpinolene is common within the food and plant world and is also present in apples, conifers, cumin, tea tree, nutmeg, and lilacs.
With a sweet and woody aroma, ocimene is also found in basil, mint, orchids, and parsley. Ocimene is an alternative remedy which works as an antiseptic, is antiviral, and antibacterial.
Ocimene’s scent is so appealing that it is integrated into many colognes and perfumes. Furthermore, it is a common terpene among many popular cannabis strains.
In the world of cannabis, terpiniol will be more common among cannabis Sativa strains as it is a powerful sedative. Terpinol is a dynamic alternative medicine; proving to be effective as it possesses antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-fungal properties.
Featuring a blend of herbal, floral, and piney scents. Similar to terpinolene, terpinol can also be found in, conifers, cumin, apples, tea tree, nutmeg, and lilacs.