Cannabis is not just limited to cannabinoids. It also boasts various oils, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, flavonoids and most importantly terpenes.
Terpenes, also referred to as terpenoids, are the fragrance molecules that impart unique aroma and flavor to the cannabis plant. However, terpenes are not just limited to this leafy-drug; they are widely encountered in nature in other plants as well.
Notably, more than 100 terpenes can be found in mature cannabis flowers.
It is also believed that terpenes have potential therapeutic benefits, which are amplified when consumed along with other cannabinoids. This synergy observed between cannabinoids and terpenes is better known by the term entourage effect.
The research so far has ‘hinted’ that terpenes are anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety in nature. Let’s take a look at some of the terpenes found in the cannabis (hemp and marijuana) plant:
Myrcene has a red-grape like aroma and is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. Interestingly, in some strains, myrcene forms as high as 65% of the total terpene profile.
A few strains which are a rich source of myrcene, include White Widow, Skunk XL and Special Kush.
Owing to the terpene’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, it is often prescribed as a supplement for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Notably, a strain with 0.5% of myrcene has mild sedative effects.
Linalool is the primary fragrance compound in Lavender, and is also present in minute amounts in coriander, cinnamon and mint.
This terpene is known for its sedative and relaxing properties. Although Linalool is capable of relieving the symptoms of a number of conditions, it is best known for its positive effect on depression, insomnia and seizures.
LA Confidential, Amnesia Haze, OG Shark and Special Kush are some of the strains rich in Linalool.
Not all cannabis strains have Limonene, but it is the second most abundant terpene in the strains in which it’s found.
As you might have already guessed by its name, Limonene gives strains a ‘citrusy’ fragrance like lemons. Though it’s fragrance is like lemons, it is not restricted to the same when it comes to physical presence. Thus, the terpene is found in large quantities in all other citrus fruits as well.
In terms of therapeutic effects, Limonene is known to reduce stress and improve mood, apart from being anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. A study has even gone on to suggest that the terpene can help reduce tumor size.
Interestingly, all the strains that have the term ‘lemon’ or ‘sour’ in their names are generally rich in limonene, viz. Super Lemon Haze, Sour Diesel, etc.
Alpha-Pinene and Beta-Pinene
Alpha and Beta Pinene get their names from pine trees as that’s where they are usually found in large quantities. The Pinene terpenes are well-known for improving air flow and respiratory functions. Furthermore, they also help fight Crohn’s disease, arthritis and cancer.
Other plants rich in Pinenes, include basil, rosemary, parsley and orange peels.
This is the only terpene that binds with the cannabinoid receptors in the human body. Thus, you will often find Beta-caryophyllene as an active ingredient in many anti-inflammatory creams.
Some studies suggest that, apart from its analgesic properties, caryophyllene is also promising in terms of alcohol rehabilitation. In fact, a few scientists recommend caryophyllene for treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
You can find this terpene in strains like Rock Star and Skywalker.
Besides cannabis, Humulene is also found in sage, clove and black pepper. Although much research isn’t available on it, early studies have suggested that the terpene is anti-proliferative in nature, which implies that it prevents cancer cells from growing.
In addition, it has also shown the ability to suppress appetite, thus allowing for the possibility of another potential harmless weight loss tool in the future.
One can find Humulene in strains like Girl Scout Cookies, Pink Kush, Headband, White Widow, etc.
Jasmine, tea tree oil and lemongrass are a few non-cannabis sources to get Trans-Nerolido. This terpene, which smells like a mixture of apples, rose and citrus, is anticancer and antimicrobial in nature.
Skywalker OG, Jack Herer and Sweet Skunk are among the few strains which are rich in Trans-Nerolido.
Eucalyptol, also sometimes referred to as cineole, is the primary terpene of – yes, you guessed it right – the eucalyptus tree. Most of the cannabis strains, however, do not possess large amounts of this mint-fragrance terpene. As a matter of fact, eucalyptol doesn’t make up more than 0.06% of a strain’s total terpene profile.
Courtesy of its pain-relieving and anti-microbial properties, Eucalyptol has found its place in both medicine and the cosmetic field.
Camphene’s smell is often mistaken for myrcene, which forms the patented smell of marijuana that most of us are accustomed to.Medically, camphene becomes a strong antioxidant when mixed with vitamin C.
You can find this terpene in strains such as Mendocino Purps, Ghost OG and Strawberry Banana.
Notably, Camphene forms an active ingredient for topicals that treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.