Terpenes are the fragrant oils that cannabis produces to attract pollinators which are responsible for its unique smell. They are not unique to cannabis, but are present throughout nature in many plants. Terpenes are what give lavender its aroma or pine forests its fresh smell. As we’ve grown to understand the cannabis plant, terpenes took a backseat to cannabinoids but are now emerging as a whole new element to consider when growing and consuming the best cannabis plant.
Over 100 different terpenes have been discovered in the cannabis plant and are secreted by the resin glands and bind to receptors in our body offering a range of health effects and benefits. All different strains and hybrids not only contain a different cannabinoid make-up, but all differ in terpenes too, giving them unique smells.
These terpenes can bind to cannabinoid receptors and affect their chemical output, such as influencing the amount of THC that passes through the blood-brain barrier or impacting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
5 of the most abundant terpenes found in various strains of cannabis are:
Myrcene – Has a musky aroma, also found in mango, lemongrass, hops and thyme. Myrcene has been shown to have a relaxing affect and used for pain, inflammation, muscle tension and sleeplessness.
Pinene – Has the aroma of pine, also found in pine needles, rosemary, basil and parsley. Pinene has been shown to improve alertness, memory retention and counteract the effects of THC
Limonene – Has a citrus aroma, also found in fruit rind, peppermint, juniper and rosemary. Limonene has been shown to enhance mood, act as an antifungal, reduce heartburn and gastrointestinal complications.
Caryophyllene – Has the aroma of pepper, also found in black peppers and cloves. Caryophyllene has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory, improve arthritis, ulcers, auto-immune and gastrointestinal complications.
Linalool – has a floral aroma, also found in lavender. Linalool has been shown to have an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and anti-acne affect.