What you need to know about Terpenes & Cannabis: Part 1

March 4, 2020 Tara Eveland 4 min read

I’m frequently asked about terpenes and cannabis, and rightly so, there’s been a lot of talk in the past few years around this topic. I hope you’ll enjoy the first post in this series I’m aptly naming, “What you need to know about Terpenes & Cannabis”. So, let’s jump in with the very basics, shall we?

Terpenes are common in plants, they give them the aroma and flavor we come to know them by. The scent of Christmas in the air of December, thank you to Pinene! That fresh clean scent you just love in your body wash.. thank you Limonene. While it’s true that terpenes are common in all plants, there are about 200 different ones that have been found of interest in the cannabis plant specifically. Just like CBD, terpenes in cannabis are non-psychoactive. Their unique profile provides one-of-a-kind health benefits signature to each strain of cannabis they’re present in.

Beyond cannabinoids, each strain has a different terpene profile with varying effects. In a strain with a strong presence of lavender, linalool is often a dominant terpene which contributes to the strains relaxing effects. An earthy-pine aroma reminding you of conifer trees will typically represent a pinene terpene. Each of these molecules provide the body with an array of health benefits.

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Myrcene

Also Called ‘Beta- Myrcene and/or ‘B-Myrcene

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  • Found in: Mango, Thyme, Lemongrass, Basil, Hops, Bay Laurel Leaves, and Cannabis. Used in several industries including fragrance, food flavoring, pharmaceuticals, and personal care.
  • Aroma: Herbal. Musky. Earthy.
  • Unique Properties: This is the most common terpene found in the cannabis plant. It accounts for the strong sedetive effect found in many Indica strains that encourage relaxation of muscles as well as aid in falling asleep. It has been studied for its effect as a sedative, analgesic (pain killer), systemic anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and cancer cell antagonist.
  • Research and Documented Studies:
  • British Journal of Pharmacology 2011- Inflammation, Sedative, Sleep 
  • Studied Effects: Research has shown Myrcene is effective in reducing inflammation and acting as a strong sedative in clinical studies.

Caryophyllene

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  • Found in: Black Pepper, cinnamon,cloves, hops, rosemary, basil, and cannabis. Also present in many essential oils.
  • Aroma: Spicy, warm, rich, woody
  • Unique Properties: Caryophyllene is uniquely different from other terpenes, due to its molecular structure it can easily bind to the CB2 receptors while at the same time ignoring the CB1 receptors. This means it doesn’t cause the ‘high’ feeling of cannabis, but still provides the benefits associated with activating those receptors.
  • Research and Documented Studies:
  • Oxford Journal of Medicine 2015: Potential to inhibit tumor growth
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine 2014: Alcoholism symptom reduction
  • Studied Effects: Pain relief, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-anxiety, neuroprotectant *

Limonene

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  • Found in: Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Grapefruit, Mandarins, Juniper, and Cannabis. Found in several industries such as food flavoring, personal care, and cosmetics.
  • Aroma: Citrus, ‘Lemony”, Fresh/Tart Lemon
  • Unique Properties: Antifungal properties makes this a top pick for many natural cleaning products (Lemon/Citrus essential oils) Along with antibacterial properties, possible elevated mood, and many other potential benefits that have yet to be studied. Most research on Limonene has focused on plant based cancer treatments.
  • Research and Documented Studies:
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine 2013: Suppress breast cancer
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine 2018: Tumor cell death lung/brain cancer
  • Studied Effects: Cancer cell death has been studied extensively and worth noting that the country of Brazil uses a pharmaceutical form of Limonene as a treatment for certain cancers.

Pinene

Also called: Alpha-Pinene, A-Pinene, Beta-Pinene,B-Pinene

  • Found in: Pine Trees, Frankincense,Fir, Cyprus, Rosemary, Dill, Basil, Parsley, and Cannabis
  • Aroma: Woodsy. Minty. “Christmas tree’
  • Unique Properties: Anti-inflammatory, Bronchodilator, Anti Bacterial, and a memory aid are all promising properties that have been researched. Many naturopathic medicines and over the counter remedies contain alpha-pinene. The chemical compound is found, for example, in eucalyptus oil, as well as tea tree oil.
  • Fun Facts: In 1600 the Dutch created an alcoholic tonic using Juniper berries, we now know this drink to be Gin.
  • In ancient times, a practice existed to collect drops of the resin from the bark of the trees and used to treat a variety of ailment. Usually, the resin was mixed with water, milk or wine and then used to act as an expectorant. *
  • Research and Documented Studies:
  • British Journal of Medicine:Anticancer properties
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine: Anti Tumor Effect
  • Studied Effects:
  • Pinene has been studied for its many benefits, most notible are the anti cancer benefits, Asthma treatment, and shows promising results for many more issues as well.

A few more common terpenes

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Bisabolol

Bisabolol is abundant in chamomile and common ingredient in cosmetic products offering a sweet earthy aroma. Due to its ability to tame inflammation, deepen moisturization, stimulate healing, kill germs, and help reduce fine line and wrinkles; scientists have proven this compound has specific benefits for cosmetic products.

Although used primarily for topical use, research finds oral exposure of bisabolol also provides effects. It is most commonly sought after for the skin healing effects and ability to increase penetration power of other topical ingredients. Research shows oral consumption leads to positive changes in organs and body weight. Bisabolol is also known to provide for anti-inflammatory, healing, soothing, and anti-microbial properties.

Humulene

Humulene is found in abundance in common hops but can also be found in ginseng, sage, clove, and basil. It’s often used as an appetite suppressant but also has anti-biotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties.

Linalool

Found in hundreds of plants including cinnamon, lavender and coriander, linalool has a delicate, floral aroma. It’s an age-old remedy for sleep disorders and can be used in treating psychosis, depression, and anxiety.

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Tara Eveland

I use hempyhope.com to write about my life and thoughts as a longtime entrepreneur and activist. You'll find topics such as current cannabis news, lifestyle, and education. I also write about a wide variety of other topics including politics, natural wellness, and six figure online business building. Read More

xoxo, Tara

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