Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes Or Terpenoids?

The cannabis plant consists of a wide variety of chemicals and compounds. About 140 of these belong to a large class of aromatic organic hydrocarbons known as terpenes (pronounced tur-peens). You may have also heard people talk about terpenoids. The words terpene and terpenoid are increasingly used interchangeably, although these terms do have different meanings. The main difference between terpenes and terpenoids is that terpenes are hydrocarbons; whereas, terpenoids have been denatured by oxidation or chemically modified.

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. Terpenes, unlike cannabinoids, are responsible for the aroma of cannabis. Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters; they are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors; they enhance norepinephrine activity; they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA. However, more specific research is needed for improved accuracy in describing and predicting how terpenes in cannabis can be used medicinally to help treat specific ailments / health conditions.

Terpenes are what you smell, and knowing what they are will deepen your appreciation of cannabis whether you’re a medical patient or recreational consumer. Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes are the pungent oils that color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like citrus, berry, mint, and pine. Not unlike other strong-smelling plants and flowers, the development of terpenes in cannabis began for adaptive purposes: to repel predators and lure pollinators. There are many factors that influence a plant’s development of terpenes, including climate, weather, age and maturation, fertilizers, soil type, and even the time of day.

Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and give rise to various effects. The effects these mechanisms produce vary from terpene to terpene; some are especially successful in relieving stress, while others promote focus and acuity. More than 100 different terpenes have been detected in marijuana, and there are many more if we consider the different variations of each one. Each plant strain tends to have unique terpene compositions; hence different strains have different smells, tastes, and effects.

Primary Terpenes Found in Cannabis

Limonene

Flavor / Aroma – Citrus.
Medicinal Uses –Antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, dissolves gallstones, mood-enhancer; may treat gastrointestinal complications, heartburn, depression. Limonene can be used to help promote weight loss, prevent and treat cancer, and treat bronchitis. It can also be used to make ointments and medicinal creams that penetrate the skin better.
Strain – OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Jack the Ripper, Lemon Skunk
Also Found In: Fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, peppermint

Myrcene

Flavor / Aroma – Earthy and musky with a hint of fruity flavors.
Medicinal Uses – Antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic; good for muscle tension, pain, insomnia, depression. Myrcene has been shown to be an effective anti inflammatory. It also works as a sedative and muscle relaxer. This could possible contribute to the tired/stoney feeling often attributed to indicas.
Strain – Pure Kush, El Nino, Himalayan Gold, Skunk #1, White Widow
Also Found In: Mango, lemongrass, thyme, hops

Alpha-Pinene / Beta-Pinene

Flavor / Aroma – Pine. This is, of course, partially where pine trees get their scent from.
Medicinal Uses – Pinene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Strain – Jack Herer, Chemdawg, Bubba Kush, Trainwreck, Super Silver Haze. One study examined 16 marijuana plants and found all the strains contained notable amounts of alpha-pinene and beta-pinene.
Also Found In: Pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley, dill

Humulene

Flavor / Aroma – hops
Medicinal Uses: Humulene is considered to be anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anorectic (suppresses appetite). It has commonly been blended with β–caryophyllene and used as a major remedy for inflammation. Humulene has been used for generations in Chinese medicine. It aids in weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant.
Strains: Pink Kush, Skywalker OG, Sour Diesel
Also found In: hops and coriander

Caryophyllene

Flavor / Aroma – Hoppy, spicy, warm, sweet, woody.
Medicinal Uses – Studies suggest that caryophyllene may help treat anxiety and depression.
Strain – Arjans Haze #2, Super Silver Haze, Nevilles Haze, Trainwreck.
Also found in: Black pepper, hops, lavender, rosemary, cloves, oregano.

Geraniol

Flavor / Aroma – floral, fruity, citronella, rose
Medicinal Uses: Antioxidant, anti-tumor, neuroprotectant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral anti-spasmodic
Strains: Lavender, Amnesia Haze, Great White Shark, Afghani, Headband, Island Sweet Skunk, OG Shark, Master Kush.
Also found In: tobacco and lemons

Terpineol

Flavor / Aroma – Pine, clove.
Medicinal Uses – Studies suggest cannabis-extracted terpineol contains antioxidant properties.
Strain – Money Maker, White Rhino, Superbud, Jack Herer.
Also found in: Apple blossoms, orange

Linalool

Flavor / Aroma – Floral with a hint of spice.
Medicinal Uses – Can be used as an anti inflammatory. It also helps to modulate motor movements. Another study found that Linalool could be used to help treat liver cancer.
Strain – Amnesia Haze, Grape Ape, G-13, Lavender, Deep Purple, LA Confidential.
Also found in: Lavender,mints, rosewood, citrus fruits, birch trees… and even some fungi.

Other Primary Terpenes: 

  • Ocimene
  • Terpinolene
  • Valencene

Secondary Terpenes Found in Cannabis

Eucalyptol

Flavor / Aroma – Spicy. Eucalyptol is used as a cooking spice and fragrance.
Medicinal Uses – Relieves pain, slows bacterial growth, inhibits the growth of fungus, reduces inflammation systemically, inhibits cancer cell growth, prevents the damage of oxidation to other molecules in the body. Eucalyptol is used in a variety of products including cough suppressants, mouthwash, and body powder.
Strain – Super silver haze
Also Found In: Eucalyptol, also commonly called cineole, is the primary terpene found in eucalyptus, it is also found in high concentrations in tea trees, mugwort, bay leaves, and cannabis.

Delta 3 Carene

Flavor / Aroma – Earthy, pine, cedar
Medicinal Uses – Studies have found Delta 3 Carene to be an effective anti inflammatory. It is also known to dry fluids like tears, running noses, and menstrual flows, healing of bones. Due to its ability to reduce bodily fluids delta 3 carene has been demonstrated to produce cottonmouth and red eye
Strain – A research study examined 162 marijuana plants, which represented over 80 strains. They detected carene in many of the samples.
Also Found In: Cypress oil, basil, bell pepper, cedar, pine, and rosemary

Borneol

Flavor / Aroma – Earthy and camphor.
Medicinal Uses – Borneol can be used as an analgesic, anti-insomnia, anti-septic, and bronchodilator.
Strain – The church, Diamond Girl, Green-o-matic, haze strains such as K13
Also found in: Cinnamon, galanga, and wormwood

Alpha Bisabolol

Flavor / Aroma – Floral. Alpha bisabolol is also found in chamomile.
Medicinal Uses –Anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, antioxidant, anti-microbial, analgesic. It can be used to heal wounds, fights bacteria, and can be used a deodorizer. Research suggests alpha bisabolol has been effective in treating a variety of inflammations.
Strain – Oracle, Harle-Tsu, ACDC, Pink Kush, Headband, OG Shark, Rockstar and Master Kush.
Alpha bisabolol is also found in chamomile.

Camphene

Flavor / Aroma – Herbal.
Medicinal Uses – Camphene has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and antibiotic characteristics.
Strain – Ghost OG, Strawberry Banana, Mendocino Purps.
Also Found In: turpentine, cypress oil, camphor oil, citronella.

Nerolidol

Flavor / Aroma – leafy, herbal, woody
Medicinal Uses: It has anti fungal, anti leishmaniasis and anti-malarial properties. It also produces a sedative effect. Nerolidol is used as a food-flavoring agent, Nerolidol is also used as a skin penetration enhancer in transdermal drugs, facilitating topical applications for pain or skin conditions.
Strains: Gorilla Glue #4, Sour Lemon OG, and Afterlife OG.
Also Found In: ginger, jasmine, lavender, tea tree, niaouli and citronella.

Pulegone

Flavor / Aroma – peppermint
Medicinal Uses: pulegone have significant sedative and fever-reducing properties. It may also alleviate the side effects of short-term memory loss sometimes associated with higher levels of THC.
Strains: Candy Kush, Bubble Gum.
Also found In: Peppermint, rosemary, catnip.

Other Secundary Terpenes

  • Phellandrene
  • Terpinene
  • Fenchol
  • Phytol
  • Sabinene
  • Camphor
  • Isoborneol
  • Menthol
  • Cedrene
  • Guaiol
  • Isopulegol
  • Geranyl Acetate
  • Cymene

Terpenes open the door to numerous scientific researches and investigations, particularly on a medical level. For example, if we add more limonenes, we will have a more stimulating herb, and on the contrary, if we increase linelool levels of a plant, its effect will be much more sedative.