What are terpenes and what do they do?

The cannabis plant is so dynamic! It has a unique smell, taste, feeling. And can be transformed into different forms - food, lotions and/or joints. It’s because of many working parts in this plant that enables it to thrive and provide benefits for so many people! For this article, we want to focus on terpenes and how they are such a vital part of the cannabis plant.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes, terpenoids, terps, whatever you want to call them, are the compounds and substances found in plants that provide the aromatics, or smell, and taste. NCBI explains that terpenes basically “form the major constituent of essential oils from plants”. Terpenes are most commonly associated with the cannabis plant because researchers have found the highest concentrations of terpenes in cannabis plants. Now, these terpenes aren’t just one-dimensional, they pack a powerful punch, providing many therapeutic benefits.

Terpenes smell so good

Have you ever wandered through a field of flowers and got that euphoric, calming feeling? Well, you can thank the terpenes for that! Many plants benefit from terps, as these substances protect the plant from grazing animals and/or harmful germs.

And for humans, the aromatics that are exuded from the plant can be harvested and condensed into many different curative oils.

Cannabinoids vs. Terpenes

Both cannabinoids and terps are key parts of the cannabis plant. In a previous article, we discussed how beneficial cannabinoids are and the estimated amount of cannabinoids that are found in each plant (hint: there are over 100 cannabinoids per plant). And the most important cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Read more about cannabinoids here.

Terpenes are a bit different from cannabinoids, as they are mainly responsible for the physiological effects associated with the cannabis plant. For instance, “beta-caryophyllene is the only known terpene that can bind to cannabinoid receptors, specifically CB2 receptors” (Natural Farmer). Just like the cannabinoids, terps will also interact with the endocannabinoid system and assist cannabinoids in entering the bloodstream through a process called the entourage effect. This effect happens when cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, hundreds of others work in one happy family to create psychoactive effects.

Different strains and terpenes

The effects of different strains of weed depend on a number of different factors, but mainly on the cannabinoids and terpenes in the strain, or the chemical compounds in it. We wrote all about how knowing about the strains and the further effects can help you choose the correct products! Read more here about the different strains.

Most are the common type of terpenes?

Researchers have identified over 100 terpenes within a cannabis plant (amongst all strains). Each of these terpenes possesses a different role. Helping people become calm, stress-free or maybe even happy. Here are some of the five biggest and most important terpenes you should know about:

  • Myrcene - This is the most abundant terpene. This terp is responsible for earthy, musky notes, similar to cloves. Myrcene is responsible for reducing inflammation and chronic pain and is a comment element in a lot of cannabis based cancer treatments. Blue Dream contains Mycrene and is a hybrid strain.
  • Limonene - Not all strains contain limonene but it is still very common. It is known for its citrusy or “lemony” smell (that’s where it got its name). This terpene is known for helping consumers with boosting moods and destressing. Papaya punch is a hybrid strain and contains the limonene terpenes.
  • Linalool - This terpene is well known for producing the typical “weed” smell, spicy and floral. When combined with the myrcene terpenes it can have a pungent and spicy scent. Linalool is known for helping patients suffering from arthritis, depression, seizures, and/or insomnia. Do-Si-Dos has some of the largest amounts of linalool and is the hybrid strain.
  • Caryophyllene - I famous for it’s pepper smell, this terp helps consumers with anti-inflammatory benefits. Bubba kush is a common Indica strain that contains Caryophyllene and will provide these benefits.
  • Pinene - As you can imagine, the smell is like a pine tree (not far from the actual name of this terpene). It helps the body with airflow and respiratory functions. And no joke can help people with memory loss produced by consuming THC. A product that contains this terpene within the Sativa plant is Jack Herer, known help consumers feel creative, uplifted, and energetic

CBD and Terpenes together!

When the entourage effect is fully functional, it can also benefit CBD (and not just THC). For example, terpenes present in CBD oil help the body in three important ways. They improve our ability to absorb beneficial chemicals through the blood-brain barrier, overcome bacterial defense mechanisms, and increase the absorption and effectiveness of cannabinoids. Basically, when CBD is involved with terps, the effects are more therapeutic than psychoactive.

In conclusion...

It’s the effects of terpenes that make cannabis even more of a magical and special plant, helping so many people! Check out our blog for more articles on these and more helpful substances!