The Importance Of Terpenes In Cannabis & Their Powerful Impact On Health

Terpenes are responsible for the plant's fragrance

Photo by Kirill Vasikev/EyeEm/Getty Images

Eucalyptus, pine, lemon, lavender, and cannabis all have very unique aromas. When was the last time you smelled these scents? Regardless of when it was, it’s important to understand that each aroma serves a special purpose. Specifically, they’re all potent molecules known as terpenoids or terpenes for short that are responsible for the scents of different plants, flowers, and trees. Not only do these terpenes contain powerful fragrances, they also contain various medicinal and therapeutic effects.

In the past, people consumed numerous terpenes to help improve their health. Fortunately for cannabis consumers, over 200 terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant. Although cannabis is medically, therapeutically, and nutritionally beneficial, the presence of various terpenes in cannabis can positively improve users’ well-being and emotional state of mind to another level. How so? Keep reading to find out and to learn more about terpenes’ vast array of benefits.

The Basics of Terpenoids (Terpenes) & the Most Recognized Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes are known as potent plant compounds that are the cause for the aromas of numerous plants, flowers, and trees growing wild in nature including the cannabis plant. According to the ‘Generally Recognized as Safe Agency’ by the U.S. FDA, terpenes are responsible for various flavors too, and they share an ancestor with Phyto-cannabinoids. Amongst terpenes are different groupings such as monoterpenes, diterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. All these types can impact both animal and human behavior after inhalation though, and from there, therapeutic and medicinal benefits are often delivered.

Overall, terpenes form the biggest category of plant chemicals, and according to one study, 15-20,000 terpenes have been identified and categorized. Also, the majority of terpenes that have been discovered and reported thus far are classified as safe and non-toxic by the U.S. FDA. In several countries, surprisingly, terpenes are present in different cosmetic and cleaning products and as food additives.

So far, various researchers have described terpenes as being versatile and containing a pharmacological significance. These plant chemicals also form the foundation of aromatherapy—a highly recognized holistic healing method. Aromatherapy has its own set of benefits, but when the aromas of different terpenes are inhaled, individuals can experience an improvement in their emotional well-being.

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, an expert in cannabis synergy and the entourage effect, there are many therapeutic characteristics of terpenes, and they’re healthy for humans and plants. Which terpenes are the most commonly ones found in the cannabis plant though? A handful of the most well-known cannabis terpenes include limonene, β-Myrcene, linalool, nerolidol, caryophyllene oxide, pinene, and β-caryophyllene.

Therapeutic and Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis Terpenes

In addition, although over 200 terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, only a handful are significant enough to be categorized as noteworthy. Besides terpenes being responsible for the aromas and flavors of cannabis strains and various medicinal and therapeutic benefits, they also contain potent oils that work to deter bugs and animal grazers while also helping prevent fungus from growing.

As most of you probably know, cannabis itself can significantly help treat various medical conditions and diseases while improving one’s well-being. However, the addition of different terpenes can help improve a users’ mental and emotional state of being that takes them to another level. Below is a breakdown of some benefits of various cannabis terpenes and where they’re commonly found besides in cannabis.

Pinene:

Limonene:

  • In nature, it’s the second most commonly found terpene
  • Based on findings from a mice experiment, limonene is believed to be a powerful anxiolytic agent
  • Contains motor relaxant effects
  • Creates apoptosis of breast cancer cells
  • In the past, a patent was proposed that represents limonene as a terpene that can help treat GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder)
  • Bio-available and quickly metabolized
  • Known for its mood-enhancing/uplifting effects
  • Commonly found in citrus fruits like orange peels, lemon peels, and peppermint

β-Myrcene:

  • In mice, it was discovered that β-Myrcene delivers analgesic effects and muscle relaxing properties
  • Found to reduce inflammation
  • According to findings from a mice study, β-Myrcene contains motor relaxant effects
  • Commonly found in basil, thyme, hops, lemongrass, and mangoes

Linalool:

Nerolidol:

β-caryophyllene:

  • Known for its gastro-protective properties
  • It’s believed that it can help treat auto-immune disorders and anti-inflammatory conditions
  • Binds to the CB2 cannabinoid receptor
  • The only terpene that has been found to directly activate a cannabinoid receptor
  • One study found that it can potentially help treat Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Contains anti-cancer properties thus impacting the growth and spreading of cancerous cells
  • Contains anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, and gastric cytoprotective effects
  • Commonly found in black pepper, basil, oregano, and green leafy veggies

Caryophyllene oxide:

Due to the findings that have been released thus far and the non-toxic and non-sensitizing make-up of various terpenes and cannabinoids like CBD, it was projected that a combination of CBD-dominant extracts and terpenes could be used as a novel therapy for acne while also delivering powerful therapeutic effects. In general, though, numerous cannabinoids and terpenes can do the following: increase blood flow, improve cortical activity, and help kill respiratory pathogens such as MRSA. So far, different studies have shown terpenes’ efficacy in delivering physical, mental, and emotional health benefits thus indicating that numerous people can benefit from terpene usage.

Regardless of why you use cannabis, next time you visit a dispensary, try purchasing a cannabis strain that contains high quantities of terpenes. Out of all available cannabis products, it’s recommended to purchase an infused tincture, cannabis oil, or a vape cartridge that contains various terpenes and cannabinoids. This way, you benefit from the ‘entourage effect’ while avoiding the negatives that come from combusted cannabis.

To reap the many benefits of terpenes aside from consuming cannabis though, try using essential oils like lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, or lavender and see how they help improve your well-being!

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