Terpenes are found in basically every type of fragrant flora. Anything that is plant-derived and smells aromatic contains some combination of terpenes. Plants with a strong odor have evolved the smell as a way to protect themselves from predators such as herbivores and parasites. For this discussion, the definition of terpenes is: terpenes are what give cannabis and vape oil their natural flavor and scent … and come with a whole lot of other benefits, too.
The diverse assortment of terpenes found in cannabis is fairly amazing in and of itself, but the way terpenes are shown to interact with cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, most notably tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), prove incredibly interesting and the health and medical-related benefits potentially game changing.
Terpenes: Fragrance and Effect
Terpenes are considered the building blocks of smell and flavor. They are organic compounds with very strong smell and taste. Terpenes are derived from isoprene–another organic compound–and come in a wide array of variations (e.g. monoterpenes, diterpenes, polyterpenes). The essential oils revolution has brought a lot more scientific research and awareness of the medical benefits of terpenes and aromatherapy. Terpenes are found in high quantities in various essential oils.
The primary difference between terpenes and essential oils are that essential oils contain terpenes and a variety of other compounds as well. Because EOs are using an entire plant’s extracts, it will contain terpenes and other hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, isolated terpenes are comprised of just themselves.
For example, limonene is in the essential oil of lemons and limes, alpha and beta-pinene are found in the essential oil of pine needles. The terpenes in these essential oils contribute to the uplifting effects experienced when someone smells the rind of a lemon or walks through a pine forest. Likewise, the terpene linalool predominates the essential oil of lavender, and is known for creating feelings of relaxation and ease. All of these terpenes, and thousands more, are found in high concentrations in the bud of cannabis.
There is evidence that many of these terpenes have an effect on the human body when inhaled. Studies have shown that aromatherapy is not pseudo-science: by smelling lavender or chamomile, you really do receive an anti-anxietal effect and citrus smells really do open up the sinuses and clear the mind.
Terpenes will produce a citrusy aroma in some strains, fruity and sweet notes in others, and while some may smell and taste like lavender, others can be more earthy and pungent. But the reality is, terpenes’ benefits transcend the olfactory.
Why Terpenes Matter
Terpenes also produce a wide range of medical effects and that is exactly what’s so captivating about them in the first place. There are at least 80-100 terpenes unique to the cannabis plant and the combination of these chemicals and cannabinoids is responsible for the entire success of the cannabis plant as we know it.
When someone uses cannabis, they get all of the aromatherapy effects of the terpenes in addition to effects that the THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids present. Nearly all of the major terpenes in cannabis are either analgesic (anti-pain) or anti-inflammatory.
A groundbreaking 2011 paper by neurologist and researcher, Ethan Russo, described the way cannabinoids and terpenes work together to boost and modulate the effects of one another in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). For a long time, THC was considered the only chemical of psychoactive importance in cannabis. Russo and team helped reveal how other cannabinoids (like CBD) and terpenes can either increase or decrease the effects of THC and other chemicals in the body that interact with the ECS.
Benefits of Terpenes
Terpenes have been found to work in synergy with cannabinoids like CBD and THC to create what’s known as the “entourage effect,” which helps determine how the cannabis interacts with your body—often making the plant more effective. Additionally, terpenes have medical benefits, like cannabinoids, and work synergistically with other compounds in cannabis on the human endocannabinoid system.
Myrcene, for instance, may potentiate (increase) the effects of THC, induces sedation (sleepiness) and provide anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and analgesic (anti-pain) effects. Limonene, on the other hand, is a regarded as an energizing anti-depressant compound in aromatherapy.
In addition to being Mother Nature’s medical cabinet, Terpenes are a natural spice kit. What’s more, the smell of terpenes is helpful for guiding you toward the cannabis your body wants. If a variety of weed smells good to you it could be your body telling you to dose with that cultivar.
If you’re using whole-plant cannabis (because it’s legal where you live), make sure to store your product in air-tight storage because essential oils and terpenes deteriorate over time if left out, affecting its potency.
Know Your Terpene Sources
It’s important to consider the source of the terpenes. Today’s burgeoning cannabis market means there are a lot of sources that are isolating cannabinoids and then adding the terpenes back in to available products. This means it’s a good idea to know that the terpenes in your cannabis projects are plant-derived and not synthetically produced in a lab. There are too many instances of negative consequences for people who aren’t paying attention to what they’re buying and consuming. Rest assured, none of our products contain vitamin E acetate, which is the primary chemical of interest in some of the inferior vaping products showing up in the marketplace (legal and illegal.) Our terpene products are some of the most safe, clean, and effective you’ll find:
- Naturally Derived Cannabis Terpene Flavors
- 100% All-Natural Cannabis Terpene Profiles
- Plant-Derived Terpene Profile Flavors
- Tailor-Made Organic Botanical Blends
- Each Batch Analyzed & Tested
- Legal Nationwide – No THC
Terpene information is beginning to be found on cannabis packaging in various recreational and medical states, but you can still ask questions!
Our key advice? When it comes to terpenes, follow your nose. Ideally, if people choose strains that smell good to them, they’ll likely achieve the maximum wellness effect from their choice.