Terpenes are often considered to be flavor-enhancing compounds that can be added to cannabinoid distillates. They enrich the otherwise neutral flavor of distillates and oils, and come in many different flavors, also known as “strains”.
The aromatic element of terpenes can be found in many different plants. They inadvertently are the cause for many plants’ scent such as flowers, trees, fruit peels and most importantly, the cannabis plant. The latter has a strong smell, and therefore contains a high concentration of terpenes.
As more time passes, more research and development goes into terpenes, not just for the various flavors it can provide, but also for the potential health benefits it seemingly brings with it.
What Are Terpenes?
In short, terpenes contain highly aromatic elements that are the cause for the intense smell found in certain plants, trees, herbs and even animals.
Currently, companies and manufacturers are using the terpene compounds in order to create various flavors and scents, not just for cannabinoid products. Terpenes can be found in body products, perfumes, gummies, drinks and regular foods.
Terpenes are not just there to provide good smells, they also often play a pivotal part in a plant’s existence. Terpenes have been found to act as attractors for pollination purposes, while some act as a repeller in order to fence off dangerous animals that could effect its existence.
While some people interchangeably use the term terpenes and terpenoids, they are not the same thing. A terpene becomes a terpenoid once a plant is dried out and the terpene oxidizes.
How are Terpenes different from Cannabinoids?
While both terpenes and cannabinoids can be found in the hemp and cannabis plant, both provide completely different end purposes.
A commonly known cannabinoid that can be found in the cannabis plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), which is the compound that provides your traditional high when consuming cannabinoids.
Another commonly known cannabinoid that can be found in the same plant is cannabidiol (also known as CBD), which provides more medicinal properties. Unlike it’s THC counterpart, CBD does not provide a similar high.
While CBD and THC are the most known cannabinoids, they most definitely are not the only cannabinoids the cannabis and hemp plant offer. In fact, there are of 100 different cannabinoids that the cannabis plant contains. More and more of these cannabinoids are being explored every day and put in finished goods for costumers to enjoy their positive properties.
With that being said, terpenes are another chemical compound that can be found in the cannabis plant. While the CBD and THC compound are inherently odorless, the terpene compound provides the smell and taste that can often be found in cannabinoid products.
Can Terpenes affect you?
In general, scents and smells that can be found in candles have been found to provide aromatherpeutic solutions to the body. Terpenes, depending on the method of consumption and concentration, can affect a person’s stress, anxiety and mood levels in a similar way candles do.
Some cannabinoid consumers claim that mixing terpenes with cannabinoids will enhance the cannabinoid’s potency and increase their affects. Recent research as explained in Frontiers in Neurology backs this claim as they discovered that people who suffered from epilepsy and who took CBD enriched with terpenes had improved symptoms and lesser side effects in comparison to those who took pure CBD.
This suggest that terpenes do have a sizable effect on the body when consumed in conduction with other cannabinoids.
Different Strains of Terpenes
When it comes to terpenes, you can find them in a wide variety of different flavors, also known as strains. These strains have been developed over the years and also come in a flower equivalent. Below we’ve listed some of the more popular terpene flavors available:
- Animal Mints
- Alien O.G.
- Cherry On Top
- Flavor Crystals
- Gorilla Glue
- Marshmellow O.G.
- O.G. Kush
- Platinum Purple Punch
- San Fernando Valley O.G.
- Sunset Sherbet
Different Types of Terpenes
Similarly to the effect that there are many different types of cannabinoids out there besides THC and CBD, there are also a large amount of different types of terpenes out there.
While terpenes are still being studied by the scientific community, there are a handful of terpenes that we know much more about in comparison to some others.
Below you can find a short list of some of the better-known terpenes that are currently circulating the market.
Humulene is a terpene that can be found in plants such as the the hop plant, as well as clove and ginger. A study found in Frontiers in Pharmacology explains that terpenes, more in particular humbleness, has the ability to prevent allergic reactions and asthma. In animal models it was shown that humbleness reduced the inflammation caused by allergies in the airways. This in essence means that Humulene could be an effective compound used to develop natural treatments for asthma.
Myrcene is a terpene that can be found in plants such as lemongrass, thyme and also the cannabis plant. A study showed that Myrcene can act as a very powerful antioxidant that could help protect brains from oxidative damage done to the brain after suffering from a stroke.
Pinene is a terpene that provides the fresh scent one can find in many plants, mostly occurring in pine needs, basil and rosemary. A-Pinene and B-pinene are both forms of Pinene that can provide aromatherapeutic benefits.
Pinene can often be found in a variety of forests and can acts as a bronchodilator, which in turn allows more air to flow into the lungs. Therefore, if you’re looking to take advantage of the medical properties of Pinene, all you have to do is find a forest containing plants containing Pinene, and take a stroll for a lengthy amount of time. This might not be the most effective method of consumption, but is often recommended by Japanese therapists to influence your psyche and physiology in a positive manner.
As can be derived from its name, Limonene is a terpene that provides a scent often found in fruits such as lemons and oranges. Limonene is present in any citrus smelling fruit.
A study mentioned in Chemico-Biological Interactions mentions that Limonene contains therapeutic properties that provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, anti diabetic and anticancer-like benefits.
Limonene is also often taken as a supplement.
Linalool is a terpene that can be found in the lavender plant. It is the cause for lavender’s strong smell. It is considered to be one of the most important and most effective scents in aromatherapy and is directly responsible for creating the calming effect one can find in lavender oil and essential oils.
The Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces study mentioned that linalool may provide anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, antidepressant, anticancer and anti-anxiety benefits.
Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene that can be found in cloves, black pepper and a variety of herbs and vegetables. Beta-caryophyllene has just as its other terpene counterparts inflammatory components that could benefits the body.
In an animal study mentioned on PubMed, this terpene reduced pain that was caused due to inflammation and nerve pain. This same study showed promising results for beta-caryophyllene and how it could help treat long-term chronic pain. Especially, since the body showed no effects in developing an increased tolerance over time when consuming beta-caryophyllene.
Geraniol is a terpene that is highly present in the geranium flower. It is the main compound present in rose oil and can also be found in the cannabis and hemp plant. Additionally, citronella oil, palmarosa oil and many other essential oils as well as flowers, fruits and vegetables have been known to carry the geraniol terpene.
Unlike some of its other counterparts, geraniol is not as highly praised and prominent. It still has a wide variety of medical and therapeutic benefits and is often used in the cosmetics industries in order to manufacture perfumes, soaps, detergents, lotions and more. Geraniol, just as its other terpene siblings provides anti-inflammatory benefits.
Terpinolene is a terpene that is often considered to be a multifaceted terpene. While Linalool smells like plants lavender, Limonene smells like lime and citrus, Pinene smells like - you got it - pine needles, Terpinolene often carries a variety of smells simultaneously. It offers a mixture of floral, citrus and piney smells.
Ocimene is one of the least studied terpenes. It offers an often sweet and herbaceous flavor, while simultaneous adding a hint of citrus and woodsy flavors. Similar to its terpene counterparts, Ocimene offers a wide variety of medicinal benefits, many of which are still unknown.
While it is considered to be common knowledge that terpenes derived from the cannabis plant, just as with alternative cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, CBT, it will take time and research to determine specific medical benefits each and every terpene uniquely has to offer. The same is the case for Ocimene.
Nerolidol is a terpene that isn’t so widely talked about, yet offers tremendous benefits. Nerolidol is in fact considered to be one of those terpenes that has the ability to affect your sleep quality. It is therefor that its aroma of apples, rose and bark make for a good combination with CBN.
Nerolidol is a terpene that is quiet easily absorbed by the skin. It is for that reason you can find it home in lots of skincare products. The scent nerolidol provides makes it a popular addition to scent-like products such as perfumes, soaps, oils and hair products. It is even considered to be safe by the FDA as a food flavoring.
The scent Nerolidol mostly provides is a combination of apple, citrus, rose and barlek.
The phytol terpene is one of the more underrated terpenes, while widely found in a variety of natural products such as basil, mint, tarragon, seaweed and a variety of cannabis plants.
Phytol offers a grassy aroma similar to tea and is often found in supplements due to its properties that help synthesize vitamins E and K.
Terpenes offer an exciting new look on enhancing existing and new cannabinoids. While they can be found in everyday products, they are mostly associated with cannabinoid use.
They have the ability to affect the psyche and mood of a consumer, add a nice flavor to a consumable and more importantly offer a variety of health benefits, some of which have been acknowledged by the FDA.
While the world of terpenes is still widely unexplored, more and more research is conducted every month in order to pin down specific properties and benefits specific terpenes have to offer.