Terpenes are what give plants their characteristic smell. They are aromatic molecules found in many plants, including flowers, fruits, vegetables, and yes, even cannabis. You even find them in the animal world, such as some types of caterpillars, butterflies, and termites. Most people are unfamiliar with terpenes, but with scientists studying cannabis so intensely, people are becoming more aware.
The beauty of terpenes is that not only do they give plants their unique aromas, but they also have medical properties of their own. As research steers society toward understanding cannabis, even ordering cannabis delivery, we now know there is much more to marijuana than just its cannabinoids, which include tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD, among hundreds of others.
In cannabis plants, terpenes are those fragrant oils produced in resin glands that give buds their aromatic diversity. Called trichomes, this resin is rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and even flavonoids. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, these compounds all work together to create the “entourage effect,” which provides patients with all the benefits of this synergistic interaction.
Terpenes vs. Terpenoids
Folks tend to use the words “terpene” and “terpenoids” synonymously, but they are not actually the same and have different definitions. As IntechOpen explains, terpenes are hydrocarbons, molecules made up of carbon and hydrogen. Terpenoids are what terpenes become after oxidation. Terpenoids include aldehyde, alcohol, ketone, and others, which makes them vastly different to terpenes.
Terpenes and Cannabis Plants
Plants synthesize terpenes for two primary reasons: Either terpenes act as a defense mechanism against insects, or they work to attract them. Certain terpenes will attract specific insects, such as mantises, to prey on the plant’s natural predators, like aphids, for example. Other terpenes will attract insects, such as bees, for pollination. In this way, plants produce terpenes for their survival.
However, terpenes are also able to affect the human body, and in a myriad of therapeutic ways. Scientists identified well over 200 different terpenes in various cannabis plants. Every strain has its own distinct and complex terpene profile. Terpenes work with THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids to provide specific benefits. Research is ongoing, but this is what we know thus far:
Myrcene is among the most common terpenes in cannabis plants. It is also abundant in lemongrass, thyme, and even hops. It has an earthy, musky, citrusy smell with a distinct hops-like flavor. It is sedating, relaxing, and it enhances the psychoactive effects of THC. Myrcene also has antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
As its name implies, limonene smells like lemons. It is abundant in oranges and other citrus fruits, and is a famous ingredient in many cosmetics and household cleaners too. This terpene has a hugely positive effect on mood, making it a notorious antidepressant. It also relieves stress, has antifungal and anxiolytic properties, and effectively treats gastric issues, such as diarrhea and even ulcers.
Linalool, also found in cinnamon, mint, birth, laurel, and various citrus fruits, has to stereoisomers, namely S-linalool and R-linalool. S-linalool is sweet and spicy with floral tones, while R-linalool smells woodier. Both have calming, sedating effects ideal for relieving insomnia and stress. Linalool also has antidepressant, anxiolytic, analgesic, and anticonvulsant properties.
Pinene is present in many, many plants, particularly its isomer A-pinene. These include rosemary, eucalyptus, sage, and pine. Pinene has an earthy, woody smell that hints of cedar wood and pine. It helps to retain memory and stay alert, making it perfect for treating fatigue. Pinene also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it is a famous bronchodilator for asthma and other respiratory issues.
Humulene is among the most common terpenes found in cannabis plants. Its earthy, woody aroma gives many strains their distinctly hops-like flavor with coriander-like undertones. This terpene suppresses appetite most effectively. Cherished for its distinctive, pleasant flavor profile, humulene also has powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial properties.
Beta-Caryophyllene, or just BCP, has a particularly pungent aroma. It hints of pepper, oregano, basil, hops, and even cloves. This spicy and complex terpene has no recorded physical effects yet, scientists are still researching it, but its therapeutic properties are many and include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic effects. It is also a potent treatment for insomnia.
All of these terpenes are available for cannabis delivery anywhere in Los Angeles. If there are specific terpenes that you want, then it is important to research which strains produce them most abundantly. Terpenes are very strain-specific, with smell being your only clue to which ones are present. However, independent laboratories test for terpenes, so check the terpene profile on any lab-tested strains.