Terpenes & Benefits
What does your can of LaCroix have in common with your bottle of CBD tincture? Terpenes!
Terpenes are the delicious and aromatic compounds that help give plants their characteristic smells and tastes. They are what make cannabis olfactorily distinct. Terpenes help make different strains identifiable with berries, fresh cookies, diesel fumes, and, of course, skunk.
Terpenes are all around us all the time. Terpenes give many of the fruits and vegetables we love—lemons, basil, rosemary, and mangoes, for example—their characteristic zing. They are what you smell when you put pine essential oil in a diffuser or lavender oils into your bubble bath. These chemicals don’t just accentuate taste and smell. Terpenes have health and wellness properties all their own.
Benefits of Terpenes
If you’ve ever heard cannabis enthusiasts talk about the “entourage effect,” then you might already know that terpenes are believed to work synergistically with cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Initial research is starting to back this up. A treasure trove of discoveries will be unearthed as we dive into these pungent compounds of the cannabis plant.
Here’s an overview of five of the most common terpenes in hemp and cannabis, along with some of their potential benefits for your health and wellness:
Myrcene is a popular terpene among patients and enthusiasts alike. Not only does it help give mango its tropical, mouthwatering smell, myrcene is also the most abundant terpene in cannabis. While it’s a common myth that eating mango can increase your high, there isn’t much evidence to support this. There is research, however, that suggests myrcene acts as a relaxant, sedative, anti-convulsant, and stress reliever.
Linalool is most often associated with lavender. It’s also found in many other plants, spices, and herbs, including birch trees and mint. Lavender has long been used for its ability to soothe and relax, but it also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Animal research suggests linalool might also have neuro-protective effects against Alzheimer’s.
The dominant terpene in most citrus fruits, limonene produces that familiar, invigorating scent. It’s associated with so many common household products, like soaps and cleaners, because of the acidic, grease-cutting properties of citrus. In addition to being antimicrobial and antibacterial, limonene is being investigated for a whole list of applications for health and wellness. It shows promise in reducing pain and inflammation, boosting mood, fighting cancer, and helping with diabetes.
While there are two forms of pinene (alpha and beta), alpha-pinene is more common in cannabis and often referred to as simply “pinene.” Giving certain cannabis strains and pine trees that distinct piney aroma, pinene is also found in dill, basil, rosemary, and parsley. Researchers are investigating pinene for a slew of potential benefits: anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antidepressant, and antimicrobial, plus a variety of protective benefits for the brain. Pinene might also help open airways for folks with asthma.
Second only to myrcene, beta-caryophyllene is a terpene common in most cannabis strains. It’s got a wonderful peppery, spicy, and woody aroma and is found in black pepper, hops, cloves, basil, and oregano. Beta-caryophyllene might be useful in helping relieve pain and inflammation. It’s also being researched for making cancer treatments more effective, balancing glucose levels in diabetics, and improving sleep.
Want more? Check out our list of the best terpene-rich products of 2020.