Cannabis terpenes are aromatic molecules that give the plant its smell. Recent research has shown that they could potentially influence the effects of cannabinoids. Terpenes are found in the fragrant oils produced in the sticky resin glands of the cannabis flower (both hemp & marijuana). They are used in the plant’s physiology to lure pollinators and to protect them from insects and animal predators, fungus, and microbes. These glands also secrete THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Cannabinoids themselves are odorless so the terpenes create all of the different scents of cannabis. Terpenes are not just in cannabis, they can be found all throughout nature, in some of the most widely used herbs and plants.
Cannabis terpenes work by binding with receptors in the human body – scent receptors in the nose and cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system.
Some terpenes bind with the same receptors that cannabinoids bind to and can sometimes affect chemical activity in the receptors. That means they could influence how the body interacts with cannabinoids in various ways. Different terpenes have different effects on the body’s cannabinoid receptors. One study has found that some terpenes can affect the amount of THC which is absorbed into the body. Other terpenes may increase the feeling of focus but not all terpenes produce effects that can be felt.
FIVE COMMON TERPENES
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis, which is where it’s mostly found in nature. In fact, one study showed that myrcene makes up as much as 65% of the total terpene profile in some strains. Myrcene has a smell that has earthy, musky notes, resembling cloves. Also, it has a fruity, red grape-like aroma. Mango contains a significant amount of myrcene, so eating it before consuming cannabis will strengthen the effects of THC and increase its absorption rate.
Insomnia, Pain, Inflammation
Other herbs & plants that contain myrcene:
Rosemary, peppermint, fruit rinds, eucalyptus, juniper
Limonene is the second most abundant terpene in all cannabis strains, but not all strains necessarily have it. As its name says, limonene gives strains a citrusy smell that resembles lemons, which is no surprise as all citrus fruits contain large amounts of this compound. Limonene is used in cosmetics and also in cleaning products. For therapeutic purposes, limonene is known to improve mood and reduce stress. Researchers also found it to have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties and one research even found it to have a role in reducing tumor size.
Anxiety, Depression, Inflammation, Insomnia, Pain
Other herbs and plants that contain limonene:
Mint, Sage, Rosemary, Juniper
This terpene is the most responsible for the recognizable Cannabis smell with its spicy and floral notes. What’s interesting is that just like those aromatic herbs, it has very strong sedative and relaxing properties. Patients suffering from arthritis, depression, seizures, insomnia, and even cancer, have all found aid in this amazing terpene.
Neuroredegereration, Anxiety, Depression, Inflammation, Insomnia, Pain
Other herbs and plants that contain linalool:
Lavender, Mint, Cinnamon, Coriander
Best known for its spicy and peppery notes, Caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors, which makes it an ingredient in anti-inflammatory topicals and creams. Caryophyllene is the only terpene that binds to cannabinoid receptors. Besides its analgesic and anti-anxiety properties, some studies have found that caryophyllene has some very promising properties.
Anxiety, Depression, Pain, Ulcers
Other herbs and plants that contain caryophyllene:
Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Oregano, Basi, Rosemary
This terpene smells like pine trees and that’s also where they can be found in large amounts. Like many others, pinene terpenes have an anti-inflammatory effect on humans. But more importantly, they help improve airflow and respiratory functions, while also helping to reduce memory loss related to THC. I know that this can sound weird because we’re talking about cannabis, but if the strain is rich in alpha and beta-pinene, it can actually help with asthma. Pinene also helps patients with arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and cancer.
Asthma, Pain, Ulcers, Anxiety
Other herbs and plants that contain pinene:
Rosemary, Orange Peels, Basil, Parsley, Pine
While terpenes from different sources will produce similar effects, every plant has a slightly different chemical composition that is going to affect how it is absorbed and used by the body. It's also important to remember that everyone's body is different and may not respond to certain terpenes in the same way. Make sure you stay mindful when trying new products and ask your physician for advice if you are currently taking any prescription medications.