The research on marijuana has never been as extensive as in the last decade. Casual users are aware of the existence of cannabinoids, especially THC and CBD. But cannabis terpenes have also been creating a lot of buzz lately. This is another group of natural compounds in marijuana, and our guide discovers everything you should know about these substances!
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are natural plant chemicals. They determine the herb’s natural scent and flavor. For example, you come across a flower that smells nice. Terpenes are behind that smell. They are also responsible for the flavor, such as the black pepper’s spiciness.
Although these compounds are common in plants, cannabis has an abundance of terpenes. The actual types depend on the strain you choose. It’s why there is an abundance of marijuana strains in Los Angeles dispensaries varying by their aroma, flavor, and potential effects. They range from fruity to spicy and sweet.
Terpenes VS Cannabinoids
From the plant’s perspective, terpenes are important. They protect the herb from pollinators and predators like wasps. Scientists believe that there are over 150 cannabis terpenes. The considerable differences in structures are why marijuana strains offer a huge variety of scents and flavors.
It’s still unclear how terpenes interact with the human body after you use cannabis. Cannabinoids work with CB receptors in our endocannabinoid system. It’s how they deliver potential benefits like pain relief and relaxation.
Some argue that marijuana terpenes and cannabinoids work together to secure the best effectiveness of cannabis. For example, many studies confirmed that lavender has a soothing effect because of its smell. The assumption is that scent can play a role in delivering the expected marijuana benefits, and terpenes secure that specific odor.
Effects of Terpenes
Terpenes are the topic of extensive scientific research. Only preliminary information is available at this point, but it indicates the compounds can have the following effects:
- Antiviral and antimicrobial activity. A recent study indicates that some terpenes can even have a positive effect when dealing with coronaviruses.
- Pain relief. According to research, marijuana terpenes can boost the effectiveness of cannabinoids in providing pain relief.
- Antidepressive properties. Medicines that work on dealing with depression often contain terpenes from herbs, such as beta-pinene and linalool.
- Anticancer characteristics. Some compounds like limonene could inhibit the growth and activity of cancerous cells, but more research is necessary.
List of Cannabis Terpenes
Marijuana contains more than 150 different types of terpenes. Some are present in trace amounts, while others don’t have much effectiveness. The following is a list of the most essential terpenes you’ll find in cannabis!
Citrus fruits like lemon and oranges contain abundant amounts of limonene. Cannabis also has a high quantity of this terpene. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial characteristics, but it can also relieve stress. Limonene gives a citrusy smell to some marijuana strains. Not all contain it, so aim for those with “sour,” “citrus,” or “lemon” in their name.
Out of all types of terpenes found in cannabis, there’s the highest quantity of myrcene. Some strains even have a terpene structure with over 60% of this substance. You’ll recognize myrcene-rich strains by earthy and musky smells. As for the flavor, it’s somewhat fruity and reminds of red grapes. Myrcene can have sedative properties but also work as a pain reliever. As with other terpenes, it shows antimicrobial and antiviral characteristics.
Pro tip: Mango contains a high myrcene quantity. If you consume it before smoking cannabis, you might boost the effectiveness of THC and other cannabinoids.
Although alpha is a bit more abundant, you’ll also find beta-pinene in cannabis. Both have anti-inflammatory properties but also come with a distinctive smell. That scent might help improve airflow, which benefits the overall respiratory system. Some reports indicate that these terpenes might provide relief when dealing with asthma. Apart from cannabis, you’ll find alpha and beta-pinene in basil, rosemary, and parsley.
If you encounter a spicy marijuana strain, linalool is the compound to blame. You’ll find this terpene in many other plants, such as coriander, mint, and lavender. Linalool promotes relaxation since it has soothing characteristics. It can help deal with insomnia but also provide anxiety and depression relief.
The full name is alpha-bisabolol, and you’ll find it in cannabis and chamomile. Cosmetic formulas often contain this terpene. It provides a soothing effect and can be crucial in treating wounds and skin irritation. Combined with other terpenes and cannabinoids, bisabolol can contribute to pain relief.
The unique thing about this terpene is that it interacts with CB receptors. It binds to them, which helps deliver a stronger anti-anxiety effect and pain relief. In addition, an intriguing study showed that caryophyllene could help decrease voluntary alcohol consumption. Once human research confirms this, this terpene could become an integral part of fighting alcohol addiction.
The specific earthy smell might remind you of woodlands and damp forests. Some argue that camphene and myrcene deliver similar scents. This terpene has some antioxidant properties, especially if you combine it with vitamin C. That’s why it’s a common part of topical formulas, including those to relieve psoriasis and eczema. In addition, an animal study revealed that camphene could reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, which can have a beneficial effect on heart health.
It’s also famous as eucalyptol since its primary natural source is eucalyptus. This terpene delivers a cool and minty scent and flavor. Cannabis only has trace amounts of it. You’ll find cineole in cosmetic formulas since it has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Some studies indicate it could help with Alzheimer’s disease, but the research is only starting.
Humulene is a unique terpene because it acts as an appetite suppressant. It could be a significant part of a weight loss plan, especially since it has an anti-inflammatory effect as a bonus. You’ll find humulene in cannabis, but also black pepper, sage, and clove.
It’s one of the best-smelling terpenes out there. Professionals often add it to cosmetics and perfumes. The scent reminds most of the lilac, but it also has a citrus note. In addition, Terpineol has a soothing effect and can promote relaxation when using a cannabis strain that contains it.