Then, there are terpenes. The word terpene has become synonymous with cannabis in recent years, but the fact is terpenes aren’t exclusive to cannabis. So, what the heck is a terpene?
Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical substances found in numerous different plants, not just cannabis. They are responsible for the smell and taste, and sometimes color, associated with these plants and have many different therapeutic uses, such as for inflammation, depression, anxiety, insomnia and epilepsy, to name a few. Terpenes also have the ability to work together with cannabinoids to enhance or heighten the effect of cannabis, often referred to as the entourage effect. You might be surprised to find out you’ve been ingesting terpenes for most of your life, even if you don’t use cannabis. Let’s take a look at some common terpenes.
Common plants: mango, guava melon, hops, lemongrass, verbena, cardamom, bay leaves, lemongrass, thyme, cinnamon, sweet basil, black pepper, oregano
Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene found in cannabis, and is also found in high concentrations in sweet basil, hops, and mangoes. Myrcene produces an earthy, fruity, clove-like odor. Studies suggest that myrcene in cannabis can reduce inflammation, block carcinogenesis and inhibit cancer cell mutation, relieve pain, relax muscles, and aid sleep. Myrcene, in combination with THC, is thought to be the prominent sedative component in cannabis often exhibiting overall body relaxation. Think “couch-lock” with this terpene.
Traditional Uses of Plants High in Myrcene:
- Improve sleep
- Reduce pain
- Promote relaxation
- Enhance mood
- Relieve anxiety
- Relieve Stress
- Strengthen the immune system
Flower strains high in myrcene:
- OG Kush.
- Blue Dream.
- Purple Urkle.
- Grape Ape.
- Granddaddy Purple.
Common plants: black pepper, cloves, oregano, hops, and rosemary
β-caryophyllene (BCP) is the terpene responsible for the spiciness of black pepper, is found in cloves, hops, and rosemary, and is commonly found in cannabis. In fact, BCP is frequently the predominant terpene in cannabis extracts. Unlike other terpenes, because of its larger molecular structure, BCP also acts as a cannabinoid; able to bind to CB2.
BCP is commonly used in the cosmetic industry, and as a food preservative, additive, and flavoring. Some research suggests BCP exhibits properties that positively influence neuropathic pain and neurodegenerative diseases. BCP exhibits potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, antispasmodic properties, antidepressant and anxiolytic properties, and anti-addictive properties.
Traditional Uses of Plants High in β-caryophyllene:
- Used in the cosmetic industry
- Used as a food preservative, additive, and flavoring
- Neuropathic pain
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Potent antioxidant
- Antispasmodic properties
- Antidepressant and anxiolytic
- Anti-addictive properties
Strains high in β-caryophyllene:
- Bubba Kush
- OG Kush
- Skywalker OG
- Sour Diesel
- Pineapple Express
Common plants: citrus fruits, rosemary, red pepper, chamomile, ginger and turmeric, St. John’s wort, valerian, hops, anise and fennel
Limonene is common in lemons and other citrus fruits and is the second most widely distributed terpene in nature. Thought to be a mood elevator able to help fight depression and anxiety, studies with citrus oils in mice and in clinical studies with patients suffering from depression suggest that limonene is a powerful anxiolytic agent. Some preliminary studies also suggest that limonene induces apoptosis of breast cancer cells and treats gastro-esophageal reflux.
Traditional Uses of Plants High in Limonene:
- Mood elevator
- Helps fight depression and anxiety
- Apoptosis of breast cancer cells
- Treats gastro-esophageal reflux.
Strains high in limonene:
- Wedding Cake
- Quantum Kush
- Berry White
Common plants: cedar, pine, and other evergreen trees, dill, basil, rosemary, parsley, pine nuts, cedar, eucalyptus, and lime and orange peel
Pinene is a common terpene found in cannabis, turpentine, rosemary, and is the main terpene in pine trees (it’s responsible for the scent of pine trees). Pinene is highly repellant to insects. Studies demonstrate that pinene is an anti-inflammatory, a bronchodilator, an antibiotic, and a memory aid that may counteract short-term memory deficits induced by Δ9_-THC intoxication.
Traditional Uses of Plants High in Pinene:
- Highly repellant to insects
- Memory aid that may counteract short-term memory deficits induced by Δ9_-THC intoxication.
Strains high in pinene:
- Haze Berry
- OG Kush
- Blue Dream
Common plants: lavender, bergamot, coriander, cinnamon, clary sage, geranium, petitgrain, rosewood, sweet basil, thyme
Linalool is a common terpene in cannabis and is responsible for the scent and flavor of lavender. Linalool has long been used in aromatherapy as a sleep aid, a relaxant, and as a treatment for anxiety, and recent studies suggest that linalool can also act as an anticonvulsant.
Traditional Uses of Plants High in Linalool:
- Sleep aid
- Anti -anxiety
Strains high in linalool:
- Mazar | Shariff
- Rainbow Belts
- Red Haze
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease. This website contains general information about diet, health and nutrition. The information is not advice and is not a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. You should always get your medical advice from a healthcare professional (HCP) knowledgeable about your individual needs. A competent healthcare professional will provide a comprehensive intake meeting where you review the conditions you want to treat and assess your prescription medications to identify potential contraindications with cannabis.
Cannabis Health Index by Uwe Blesching (2015)
American Cannabis Nurses Association https://www.cannabisnurses.org/
Leafly.com. What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do? https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/terpenes-the-flavors-of-cannabis-aromatherapy