The Many Roles of Terpenes
Terpenes are organic compounds that are found across many plant species and play a wide variety of roles. Whether they act as a stimulant, attractant, or deterrent; these beneficial compounds are crucial to the survival of cannabis plants. Although we don’t see terpenes for their role in cannabis on an evolutionary level, we do appreciate them for their role in providing incredible aromas, mouthwatering flavors, and potentially medicinal effects.
Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis and Their Function
First, let’s look into which terpenes are commonly found in cannabis and other plants.
Pinene is responsible for the pine aroma routinely found in cannabis strains. Unsurprisingly it’s located in pine needles, rosemary, dill, and other aromatic herbs. Pinene is thought to be responsible for acute awareness and memory retention. Its medicinal benefits are related to reducing asthma, inflammation, and cancer cells.
When you begin peeling the skin from citrus fruit, do you notice the smell that it emits? The terpene that’s responsible for this bitter and pungent aroma is limonene. It’s typically found on the fruit skin, peppermint, and other herbs.
Researchers have found that limonene is capable of elevating your mood and reducing stress. Medicinal benefits attributed to limonene is the reduction of inflammation, anxiety, and depression.
Myrcene is a terpene that’s commonly found in indica strains, and they are potentially the cause of the “couchlock” effect. Although THC plays an active role in inducing a stoned feeling, myrcene is thought to be the reason why users become immobilized when consuming a large amount of this compound.
Myrcene is commonly found in lemongrass, hops, and mangos. It’s been studied to leave users in a profoundly relaxed state. Medically, it’s known for reducing insomnia and as its role as an antioxidant.
When shopping for relaxing natural oils, teas, or soaps, most usually contain lavender. Linalool is the organic compound responsible for the scent that flows out of lavender plants, as well as cannabis. Due to its sedative nature, linalool provides cannabis users with a profoundly relaxing effect.
Linalool has been studied for its use in neurological diseases, insomnia, and in reducing anxiety.
Now we’re getting to the spice section. Most pepper plants contain caryophyllene, which is a natural component of cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. This compound is a natural insect repellent, but it also is known for its stress reducing properties. Research is ongoing regarding caryophyllene, but it’s been studied to reduce ulcers and treat chronic pain symptoms.
Did you know that hops and cannabis are related? Then it shouldn’t be a surprise that hops and cannabis both share this compound. Known for its “hoppy” flavor, humulene is known for its anti-inflammatory potential.
Ocimene is an extremely volatile organic compound that’s found on mint, basil, and parsley. It plays a host of medicinal roles, such as fighting against bacteria, viruses, and fungus. This means that Ocimene is an antiseptic, which can clean wounds to prevent infection.
Terpene’s Significant Role
As you can see, terpenes aren’t merely responsible for the aroma and flavor of cannabis, but also play specific roles in the effects that we feel when consuming marijuana-based products. As legalization allows for more in-depth studies, terpenes will be better understood very soon.
The trend of cannabis dispensaries offering high terpene content products is beginning to take hold, so you’re more than likely able to find these flavorful compounds in abundance at a medical or recreational marijuana dispensary near you.