What are Terpenes?
The refreshing aromas of pine trees, citrus, eucalyptus and hemp all share a common origin. Their scents are all created by organic compounds called terpenes. So what are terpenes? Terpenes are a broad class of fragrant compounds that can be found in many various plants, trees, foods and essential oils. In the Cannabis Sativa plant (hemp and marijuana), these terpenes are located within the trichomes, the teeny-tiny mushroom-shaped crystals that cover the plant’s leaves and flowers.
As with cannabinoids, it is also believed that there are many different types of terpenes. Over 20 000 actually, however, the hemp plant only contains around 100 of them. Of these 100 different types of terpenes, each have different chemical structures that give them their own unique aromas. These unique aromas, while pleasing to our sense of smell, are actually intended as a deterrent, repelling fungi, bacteria and other creepy crawlies…but wait there’s more! Studies have also found that terpenes are more than just pleasant smelling and a natural form of protection from predators. Studies have shown terpenes to invoke a broad range of biological effects in humans (more on this a bit later). Isn’t nature amazing?!
What types of Terpenes are there?
So as we mentioned earlier, terpenes are also found in plants outside of the Cannabis Sativa species. Open up your kitchen cupboard or fridge and have a look around. Broccoli, mangos, grapefruits, lemongrass, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric and even beer, all of these are packed with terpenes! Let’s narrow this down and focus on some of the most common and well-known terpenes found in hemp.
Myrcene is by far the most common terpene found in the Cannabis Sativa species. Fun fact, myrcene is also found in large quantities in sage, hops, caraway and clover!
The sharp and refreshing scent of lemon? Limonene is responsible for that. Understandably, limonene is often also used in cleaning products, air fresheners and perfumes.
Beta-caryophyllene is spicy and peppery. Most commonly found in black pepper, cloves and cinnamon.
A strong-scented terpene. Linalool is what gives lavender its floral aroma.
Why are Terpenes special?
Terpenes certainly aren’t just a pungent scented one-trick pony! They are significant as a result of their potential synergy with cannabinoids including (but not limited to) CBD, CBG, CBN and THC. Convincing evidence suggests when cannabinoids and terpenes co-exist, their own biological benefits and attributes are enhanced. Referred to as the entourage effect (you see what they did there?), this is one of the many phenomena that make the molecules in hemp and marijuana so unique. Interestingly, research has also shown terpenes to have potential biological benefits also when isolated too.
What are the effects of Terpenes?
As with many areas of cannabis research, terpene specific studies are still somewhat limited still; however, the extent of potential is huge. An examination published by the British Pharmacological Society found that terpenes exhibit "unique therapeutic effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis‐based medicinal extracts". Furthermore, the interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes could lead to "synergy with respect to the treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections".
So that’s Terpenes in a nutshell! While cannabinoids certainly are the big chiefs, their impact could be increased when coupled with terpenes. We hope you enjoyed the read and be sure to keep checking back as our blog is updated with new content frequently! If you have any questions or would like to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact us! “Weed” love to hear from you!