Terpenes

by | Aug 10, 2016 | Cannabis Education | 0 comments

Terpenes, or isoprenoids, provide cannabis with its unique bouquet. The molecules are quite small and consist of repeating units of a compound called isoprene. Although less well-known than the major cannabinoids, terpenes are instrumental to the physiological and psychoactive effects of cannabis.

The relationship between terpenes and cannabinoids, known as the “entourage effect,” ultimately differentiates one strain of cannabis from another. Although, over 200 terpenes have been reported in the plant, only a small minority has actually been studied for their pharmacological effects.
Since cannabinoids and terpenes are related it is no surprise that terpenes would trigger the body’s endo-cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids are a class of terpenophenolic compounds, part terpenoid and part phenol, a sub-set of terpenes. While terpenes are hydrocarbon groups created by various combinations of the isoprene units that make them up, and may be aromatic, all phenols are aromatic hydrocarbons, which means they have a very pronounced scent. Terpenoids are compounds related to terpenes but may also include oxygen or have molecules rearranged; the terms are often used interchangeably. Cannabinoids, being half terpene and half phenol, have very pronounced scents and flavors. The different combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids found in cannabis are what give strains their distinct flavors and scents, as well as their medicinal properties.
Terpenes play a vital role in the plant kingdom; they deter insect predation, protect plants from environmental stresses, and act as building blocks for more complex molecules, such as cannabinoids. Many terpenes act synergistically with other varieties of terpenes, and some either catalyze or inhibit formation of different compounds within a plant. Understanding how terpenes function allows scientists to manipulate cannabinoids to desired ratios.

 

alpha-Pinene & Beta-Pinene

Pinene is the main terpene in pine trees which gives them their characteristic scent and is also found in high amounts in rosemary and cannabis. Pinene is one of the most common terpenes in the plant world and is commonly found in higher concentrations in strains like Jack Herer, Chemdawg, Bubba Kush, Trainwreck, and Super Silver Haze. Pinene is also crucial to our bodies because it forms the biosynthetic base for CB2 ligands in the endocannabinoid system.

 
Evidence shows that pinene can be a bronchodilator, increasing airflow to the lungs and helping with conditions such as asthma. Like many terpenes and cannabinoids, pinene is both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, making it useful for a sufferer of chronic pain. Pinene helps fight cancer by encouraging apoptosis and being an anti-proliferative. Pinene is an antioxidant and even appears to aid in memory retention. Prominent in Sativa strains.
 

Therapeutic Uses:

Analgesic – Relieves pain.
Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Antioxidant – Prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body.
 
Recommended for:
-Asthma
-Antiseptic
-Cancer
-Memory
 
Effects:
-Alertness
-Euphoria
-Creativity
-Memory retention
 
Scents:
-Pine
-Dill
-Parsley
-Basil
-Rosemary

 

Myrcene

Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene in Cannabis. Myrcene concentration dictates whether a strain will have an Indica or Sativa effect. Strains containing over 0.5% of myrcene produce a more sedative high, while strains containing less than 0.5% myrcene have an energizing effect. Myrcene is also present in thyme, hops, lemongrass, and citrus, and is used in aromatherapy. Myrcene is a monoterpene, the smallest of the terpenes, it is found in very high concentrations in sweet basil, hops, mangoes and cannabis. Myrcene is described as possessing an earthy, fruity clove-like odor, but can be very pungent in higher concentrations, as in heavily hopped beers. Not surprisingly, hops and cannabis are cousins, both members of the family Cannabaceae. Myrcene gets its name from Myrcia sphaerocarpa, a medicinal shrub from Brazil that contains very high amounts of myrcene which has been used there for ages as a folk remedy for diabetes, dysentery, diarrhea, and hypertension.
 
Myrcene is crucial in the formation of other terpenes and it synergizes the antibiotic potential of other terpenes. One reason why myrcene could be so commonly found in cannabis is that it has been shown to change the permeability of cell membranes to allow more absorption of cannabinoids by the brain. This effect of myrcene has been known about since the 1970s and long ago spawned a rumor that eating a ripe mango before smoking would get you higher. Prominent in Indica strains.
 

Therapeutic Uses:

Analgesic – Relieves pain.
Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-Diabetic – Helps mitigate the effects of diabetes.
Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Insomnia – Aids with sleep.
Anti-Proliferative/Anti-Mutagenic – Inhibits cell mutation, including cancer cells.
Antipsychotic – Tranquilizing effects relieve symptoms of psychosis.
Antispasmodic – Suppresses muscle spasms.
 
Recommended for:
-Diabetes
-Pain relief
-Sleep Aid
-Antioxidant
-Muscle Tension
-Cancer
 
Effects:
-Couchlock
-Sedation
-Relaxation
-Body high
-THC enhancement
 
Scents:
-Mango
-Thyme
-Herbal
-Citrus
-Hops
 

Linalool

Linalool has a floral scent reminiscent of spring flowers, but with spicy overtones. It possesses sedative properties and is an effective anxiety and stress reliever. It has also been used an analgesic and anti-epileptic. Linalool is best known for giving lavender its distinct scent and flavor. Linalool is also often used in aromatherapy as a sleep aid, a relaxant and as a treatment for anxiety for thousands of years. Linalool is crucial in the production of Vitamin E in the body, which makes it a very important terpene for healthy functioning. It is common in GDP and other purple strains. Prominent in Indica strains.
 

Therapeutic Uses:

Analgesic – Relieves pain.
Antidepressant – Relieves symptoms of depression.
Anti-Epileptic – Reduces seizures and convulsions.
Anti-Inflammatory – Reduces inflammation.
Antipsychotic – Tranquilizing effects relieve symptoms of psychosis.
Anxiolytic Relieves anxiety[? – More research is needed; see below – Ed.]
Sedative – Promotes sleep.
 
Recommended for:
-Anxiety
-Sleep aid
-Stress
-Pain relief
-Depression
 
Effects:
-Sedation
-Relaxation
-Calming
 
Scents:
-Floral
-Candy
-Spice
 

Limonene

Limonene is a cyclic monoterpene that has a pronounced citrus odor and flavor, somewhat sweet yet tangy and bitter. Unsurprisingly, limonene is most commonly found in highest concentrations in the rinds of citrus fruit.

A terpene with a wide range of uses, limonene is a commonly used terpene in perfumes, household cleaners, food, and medicines. Limonene has numerous medicinal benefits including promoting weight loss, aiding digestion, and preventing gastric distress. It has been shown to be an anti-fungal agent, making it a natural remedy for athlete’s foot or outbreaks of yeast. Limonene also shows promise as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Most interestingly, limonene has been shown both to stimulate the immune system and be an effective treatment for cancer. Common in Sativa strains.
 

Therapeutic Uses

Antidepressant – Relieves symptoms of depression.
Antifungal – Inhibits the growth of fungus.
Anti-Inflammatory – Reduces inflammation.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Anxiolytic – Relieves anxiety.
Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux – Reduces acid reflux.
Immunostimulant – Stimulates the immune system.
 

Recommended for:
-Anxiety
-Inflammation
-Cancer
-Gastro-intestinal ailments
-Depression
-Heartburn
 
Effects:
-Elevated mood
-Stress relief
 
Scents:
-Citrus
-Lemon
-Orange
-Mint
 

Terpineol, Alpha-Terpineol, Gamma-Terpineol

Terpineol is known for its pleasant smell and is often used in soaps and perfumes. It is known to have relaxing effects. Studies suggest cannabis-extracted terpineol contains antioxidant properties. Terpineol is antibacterial and antiviral, an immune system stimulant, a good general tonic. In Essential Oils it is warming and uplifting. Common in Jack Herer and Jack crossbreeds.
 

Therapeutic Uses

Antioxidant – Prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body.
Antidepressant – Relieves symptoms of depression.
Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Antiviral – Slows viral growth.
Anti-Inflammatory – Reduces inflammation.
Anxiolytic – Relieves anxiety.
Immunostimulant – Stimulates the immune system.
 
Recommended for:
-Anxiety
-Immunity
-Depression
-Bacterial/viral ailments
 
Effects:
-Elevated mood
-Uplifting
 
Scents:
-Clove
-Pine
-Lilac
 

Carophyllene

Caryophyllene is the primary terpene that contributes to the spiciness of black pepper and also a major terpene in cloves, hops, rosemary, and cannabis. as also been shown to have cancer fighting What makes caryophyllene chemically unique is its inclusion of a cyclobutane ring, which is a rarity in nature and gives it properties that could make it a viable candidate for a new chemotherapy drug. Caryophyllene isn’t only unique for being a cyclobutane, it is unique for being both a terpene and a “dietary cannabinoid,” a food-stuff which acts as a cannabinoid and binds to CB2 receptors. It has been found to possess numerous medicinal benefits, including anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous and local anesthetic effects. Some sources speculate that it is so powerful it could threaten existing pharmaceuticals, and synthetic cannabinoids currently being developed, which could be why it is so heavily studied. Common in Hash Plant, OG Kush, Bubba Kush, Girl Scout Cookies and other spicy strains.
 

Therapeutic Uses

Analgesic – Relieves pain.
Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Antidepressant – Relieves symptoms of depression.
Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Antioxidant – Prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body.
Anxiolitic – Helps relieve anxiety.
Neuroprotective – Slows damage to the nervous system and brain.
 
Recommended for:
-Arthritis
-Anxiety
-Depression
-Gastro-intestinal ailments
-Depression
-Ulcers
-Diabetes
-Cancer
-Neuro-inflammation diseases
 
Effects:
-Elevated mood
-Stress relief
 
Scents:
-Spicy
-Wood
-Pepper
-Clove
 

Humulene

Humulene is one of the predominant terpenes in Humulus Lupulus, or common hops, from which it gets its name. It’s also found in cannabis, sage, and ginseng. While humulene is related to β-caryophyllene, it is a different isomer with distinct properties. Humulene is like most other cannabinoids and terpenes in that it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. It also displays anti-cancer properties. Humulene is unique because, like THCv, it acts as an appetite suppressant, making it promising for weight loss treatments.
 

Therapeutic Uses

Analgesic – Relieves pain.
Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Anorectic – Appetite suppressant, promotes weight loss.
 
Recommended for:
-Cancer
-Inflammation
-Pain
-Nausea
-Weight loss
 
Effects:
-Appetite suppression
-Pain relief
 
Scents:
-Hops
-Coriander
 

Terpinolene

Terpinolene has a smokey or woody odor and is found in apple, cumin, lilac and tea tree. Terpinolene is neither an analgesic or an anti-inflammatory, which is surprising as most cannabinoids and terpenoids are one of the two, if not both. It does help fight cancer like most other cannabinoids, has been used as an anti-septic for centuries, and it is anti-fungal as well as anti-bacterial. Terpinolene is a sedative which may also be helpful in cancer treatment if patients have difficulty sleeping, possibly in conjunction with other terpenes or cannabinoids like linalool and cannabinol (CBD). Outside of the human body, terpinolene has been shown to be an effective natural method to repel both mosquitoes and weevils.
 

Therapeutic Uses

Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-Fungal – Inhibits the growth of fungus.
Anti-Insomnia – Aids with sleep.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Antioxidant – Prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body.
 
Recommended for:
-Cancer
-Heart Disease
-Insomnia
 
Effects:
-Sedative
 
Scents:
-Smoke
-Wood
 

Geraniol

Also present in geraniums, geraniol emits a rosey scent that makes it a popular perfume additive. It is an effective mosquito repellent and shows a potential protective effect against neuropathy. Provides a citrus, fruity aroma, geraniol is a natural anti-oxidant, and has been suggested to have cancer-prevention properties.
 

Therapeutic Uses

Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Antioxidant – Prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body.
 
Recommended for:
-Cancer
-Neuropathy
-Depression
 
Effects:
-Uplifting
 
Scents:
-Rose
-Citrus
-Berries

 

SECONDARY TERPENES FOUND IN CANNABIS

Camphene

A white fragrant solid that comes from the wood and bark of a tall Asian tree (camphor tree) and is used mostly in medicine, in making plastics, and to repel moths found in three optically different forms in several essential oils, made synthetically from pinene, and used in insecticides. It is a minor constituent of many essential oils such as turpentine, cypress oil, camphor oil, citronella oil, neroli, ginger oil, and valerian. It has recently shown promise for pain relief and antioxidant effects.
 

Carene

Carene has a sweet, pungent odor and is a main constituent of pine and cedar resin. It is used to dry out excess body fluids, such as tears, mucus, and sweat.
 

Eucalyptol

Derived from eucalyptus oil, eucalyptol has a minty, earthy aroma. It has been shown to possess potent antifungal effects.
 

Fenchol

Fenchol is found in basil and is used extensively in perfumery. It is known to exhibit antibacterial properties.
 

Menthol

Menthol exhibits analgesic properties and is used topically to treat inflammatory pain.
 

Borneol

Borneol has a menthol aroma and is used as a calming sedative. It is also beneficial for combating fatigue and recovering from stress or illness. Borneol exhibits both anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects.
 

Citronellol

Citronellol is used in perfumes and insect repellents,[4] and as a mite attractant. It has a citrus/lemongrass and slightly minty scent.
 

Guaiol

Guaiol is an alcohol found in the oil of guaiacum and cypress pine. It possesses antimicrobial properties.
 

Phytol

Found in green tea, phytol is a diterpene that results from the degradation of chlorophyll. Phytol inhibits the enzyme that degrades the neurotransmitter GABA, which may partially account for its relaxing effect.
 

Aromadendrene

Found in eucalyptus, Aromadendrene has antibiotic properties. Little is known about this compound.
 

© 2017 Yerba Buena

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