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WHAT ARE TERPENES?

TERPENES: THE TASTE AND SMELL OF CANNABIS

Have you ever wondered what gives some of our favourite experiences of smell and taste their unique scent and flavour? Why lemons are citrusy, why forests are thick with the aroma of pine and earthy wood, or why essential oils hold such pleasant pungency. Well, we have terpenes to thank for that.

WHAT ARE TERPENES?

Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, the essential oils which create all plants’ unique odours and flavours.1 In practical terms, these plant compounds are there to either attract or repel other organisms. And unsurprisingly, whether the intended terpene was to attract pollinators or ensure its survival, we can’t get enough of them. 2
Around 140 chemicals and compounds found in the cannabis strains we know and love belong to these aromatic, organic hydrocarbons – offering a wide and varied sensory profile which are unique and often complementary.3


TYPES OF TERPENES

With our complex ability to observe and communicate with the world around us, terpenoids are vital to our identification and appreciation of fruits, vegetables, spices, and the careful construction of CBD oils from the cannabis plant. Terpenes in this amazing plant are made in sticky resin glands where CBD and other cannabinoids are produced. High sought after, here are some of the most important terpenes found in the cannabis plant, and used around the world to help prevent and treat many different ailments.

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Found in the aroma of oranges, lemons, limes, and all things citrusy. Whether it’s citrus rind, juniper, rosemary or peppermint, this pleasant smell is attributed to an elevation in mood and spirit. Studied for thousands of years, Limonene – with its alluring scent – remains extensively used in many of the products we use today, and has long been used to tackle obesity and inflammation.4.


As previously mentioned, this earthy wood smell is typically found in the bark resin of pine and fir trees. A natural compound isolated from pine needle oil, it’s been extensively used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator and local antiseptic.


Here’s a question: have you ever heard that eating a mango before getting high would increase its intensity? Well, that’s no stoner myth. The citrus and herbal smell attributed to thyme, bay leaves, hops and, you guessed it, the sweet mango, all come from the most common terpene found in cannabis – Myrcene. Hailed for an array of medicinal benefits, including its prevention of peptic ulcer disease, this incredible oil plays a vital role the world of CBD.6


Known for its calming, relaxing effects, the floral spice found in lavender, birch and rosewood is a result of linalool’s careful chemistry. Studies explore the many ways this terpene can boost our immune system, significantly reduce cigarette-induced lung inflammation, and aid in the restoration of the neurological and behaviour impairments associated with Alzheimers.7,8


Found in peppercorns, cloves, basil and cotton, beta-caryophyllene is noted for its peppery and spicy scent. Like many others, there are interesting studies surrounding this terpene which make it an attractive component of many high-quality CBD oils. For instance, the oral combination of phytocannabinoids and B-caryophyllene appear to be promising for the treatment of chronic pain due to their high safety and low adverse effects profiles.9 Furthermore, black pepper oil, of which beta-caryophyllene is the main component, is found to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties.10


TERPENES & US

Next to methane, terpenes are the most common volatile organic compound found in the atmosphere.11 Put simply, they are everywhere. And like all things in nature, terpenes naturally interact with their chemical environment. Here, that’s the cannabinoids and other chemical compounds found in cannabis, ultimately influencing how we connect with this herbal synergy.

It has been observed that they “display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts”. And what’s more, the interplay of terpenoids and cannabinoids could “produce synergy with respect to treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, and fungal and bacterial infections”.12

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TASTE TEST, ANYONE?

Considering the important and exciting role that terpenes play in the sensory sensations we experience every day, it’s important to only choose CBD products that utilise high-quality oil that help maximise the natural synergy and, ultimately, help deliver a range of health benefits within the body.

Sources:

1. Eberhard Breitmaier (2006). Terpenes: Flavors, Fragrances, Pharmaca, Pheromones. Wiley-VCH

2. Martin, D. M.; Gershenzon, J.; Bohlmann, J. (July 2003). "Induction of Volatile Terpene Biosynthesis and Diurnal Emission by Methyl Jasmonate in Foliage of Norway Spruce". Plant Physiology. 132 (3): 1586–1599

3. https://www.medicaljane.com/category/cannabis-classroom/terpenes

4. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1105/limonene

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837931

6. http://www.aromaticscience.com/the-effect-of-a-minor-constituent-of-essential-oil-from-citrus-aurantium-the-role-of-β-myrcene-in-preventing-peptic-ulcer-disease/

7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567576915301089

8. http://europepmc.org/article/med/26549854

9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820295/

10. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2012.0106

11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemical-engineering/terpene

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/