Updated: Dec 24, 2022
What are terpenes?
You already know what terpenes are because you’ve experienced them all your life. This article will add to your knowledge on what terpenes are and how water soluble CBD and terpenes affect the body.
Terpenes are the strong-smelling oils found in the vast majority of plants. These are the chemical compounds that make oranges smell like an orange, lemons smell like a lemon, roses smell sweet, and rosemary smell like rosemary.
You already know what terpenes are because you’ve experienced them all your life
In cannabis, terpenes influence the character and effects of cultivars. Cannabis terpenes interact with cannabinoids and human biology to produce unique experiences.
Cannabis contains more than 150+ types of terpenes. These aromatic chemical compounds that determine the aromas, flavors, and even colors of many flowers and herbs, provides cannabis with its distinctive odor and contributes to its flavor.
Different varieties or "strains" of cannabis have different terpene compositions that can alter the herb's smell and subtly change its effects.
Environmental factors including climate, weather, age, soil, fertilizer and maturation all affect a plant’s development of terpenes. Every strain that has been identified tends to lean towards a unique terpene type and composition.
What Are Botanically-Derived Terpenes?
Terpenes are derived from 3 sources:
Synthetic terpenes are not sourced from actual plants and are instead created in a lab using chemical ingredients.
Non-cannabis or botanically-derived terpenes are terpenes derived from non-cannabis plant sources. The term “botanical terpenes” is often used interchangeably with “plant-derived terpenes.”
Cannabis terpenes are derived from cannabis
Cannabis-Derived vs. Botanical Terpenes
Individual terpenes are identical to each other on a molecular level. Whether they’re derived from cannabis, fruits, herbs, or any other natural source, terpenes are the same. For example, a myrcene molecule isolated from mango is the same as a myrcene molecule isolated from the cannabis plant.
The extract has more – Where you see a difference in the cannabis-derived terpene is in the extracts. These extracts are a complex mixture of dozens of terpenes, terpenoids, flavonoids, phenols, esters, and other chemical compounds. This complex combination of natural chemicals makes a huge difference in the cultivar’s character.
The reason for interest in the cannabis-derived terpene extracts is because they can catalyze the entourage effect and increase the effectiveness of cannabinoids in the body after consumption.
Though “strain-specific” botanical terpene products try to copy the signature profile of cannabis cultivars, they are much simpler by comparison.
Terpenes and Cannabinoids / CBD
Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes are oils that color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like citrus, berry, mint, and pine.
Terpenes under a microscope
Researchers report that cannabinoids are large molecule produced primarily in the cannabis plant. On the other hand, terpenes are tiny molecules produced in thousands of different plant species including cannabis.
Terpenes and cannabinoids are active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant, and both perform important functions. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are largely responsible for the psychoactive, therapeutic, and medicinal benefits of cannabis.
Research suggests that different terpenes affect the body differently. Some have a more energetic or uplifting effect, and some are more relaxing or sedating.
Terpenes are also thought to have an additive therapeutic effect of their own, and more research is being done to further understand their potential benefit and use for various symptoms and disease states.
List of Primary Terpenes in Cannabis
1. Myrcene - Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpene found in cannabis as well as lemongrass, bay leaves, parsley, cardamom, thyme, and basil. In some strains, it makes up as much as 65% of the total terpene profile.
2. Limonene - This is the second most abundant terpene in cannabis, and it produces a citrusy aroma. It’s also found in the rind of citrus fruits such as oranges and tangerines and other citrus fruits.
3. Linalool - Linalool is responsible for the floral notes in cannabis. It is also common in lavender and aromatic herbs.
4. Caryophyllene - Caryophyllene binds successfully to CB2 receptors — the part of our endocannabinoid system. It is responsible for the spicy scent of black pepper and is common in cinnamon, and spices such as oregano, basil, and rosemary.
5. Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene - Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature, found in cannabis, pine trees, and Spanish sage.
6. Humulene - Humulene is found in cannabis as well as sage and ginseng.
7. Terpineol - Terpineol is a complex, lilac- and fruity-smelling terpene found in the cannabis plant.
8. Valencene - Valencene is a sesquiterpene that gets its name from the place it's most commonly found: Valencia oranges. It has a sweet citrusy aroma and offers insect repelling benefits.
9. Terpinolene - Terpinolene has a piney aroma with floral essences. It is also present in high amounts in sage and rosemary..
10. Geraniol - Geraniol is a fragrant terpene that inherited its name from the geranium flower, which also contains geraniol and has a similar aroma; a sweet rose scent with notes of citrus.
11. Ocimene - Ocimene has a tropical and musky aroma.
The Entourage Effect is Part of the Terpene Effect
The entourage effect refers to the compounds present in cannabis working in concert to create the-sum-of-all-the-parts that leads to the experience of cannabis. Other cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids are considered to be part of an entourage effect.
Cannabis has among the richest and most diverse assortment of terpenes of any plant in the world.
As detailed in the article, there are numerous terpenes present in the cannabis plant and variation between strains. Based on the current research conducted, numerous terpenes have presented pharmacological effects in humans and animals.
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