While cannabinoids like THC and CBD are rightfully getting the attention they deserve of late, not all the therapeutic power of cannabis is down to just them. Terpenes, the fragrant oils which give cannabis its distinctive smell and taste, are just as important.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are a large and diverse group of organic compounds that many plants produce, not just cannabis. It is thought that terpenes are secreted by plants as a means of protection for, deterring animals from eating them.
Terpenes are the major components of plant resin as well as the essential oils of many types of medicinal plants and flowers, including cannabis. They are found in the sticky resin glands of cannabis and hemp flowers, which is also where cannabinoids are produced.
What do terpenes do?
Along with providing cannabis with unique and powerful aromas and tastes, terpenes have also been shown to offer plenty of medical benefits. They do this by interacting with the body in a similar way to cannabinoids – via various receptors, some of which make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
When consumed alongside cannabinoids like THC, they can even enhance the cannabinoids’ effect on the human body. Myrcene, for instance, which is also found in mangoes, has been found to increase the speed of absorption of THC and other cannabinoids.
Similarly to CBD, some terpenes also influence neurotransmitters in the brain by binding to dopamine and serotonin receptors. This is how they can affect and regulate our mood and emotions. Limonene, for example, which gives cannabis a lemon-like smell, can increase serotonin production, subsequently elevating your mood.
Here are some of the most common terpenes and their health benefits:
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Earthy camphor smell. Is antiseptic, analgesic, and a bronchodilator.
Delta 3 Carene
Piney smell. Is anti-inflammatory and has antihistamine properties.
Floral, spicy smell. Aids neural function and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Alpha- and Beta-Pinene
Piney smell. Anti-inflammatory.
Herbal smell. Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Hop-like smell. Antidepressant and anti-anxiety.
Clove-like smell. Antioxidant properties.
[Image Credit: HempElf]