What are terpenes?
Terpenes are compounds that can be found in every cannabis plant and are responsible for giving the plant its unique and characteristic smell.
Aside from their fragrant quality, terpenes, which are secreted by the same glands as the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids, are thought to have developed to keep predators away and to attract pollinators to the plant.
Within the body, terpenes are thought to have many useful properties and are believed to contribute towards the theorised ‘entourage effect’ of cannabis – where the plant may prove to be more effective when it’s used in its natural state with all of its constituent terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids, than when specific cannabinoids like CBD and THC are singled out and used alone.
With all this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some terpenes you should know more about:
Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant and is known for its aromas of citrus, cloves and musk. Myrcene is also known for the characteristic spicy and peppery fragrance it imparts on beer as it, like a number of other terpenes, is found in hops. Myrcene is also found naturally occurring in wild thyme, cardamom and lemongrass, which has been widely used in herbal medicine for many years. Overall, Myrcene is thought to create a relaxing and sedating effect.
Unsurprisingly, as suggested by its name, Pinene smells a lot like pine needles, however this terpene may be useful as more than simply as a fragrant oil. While, as with many terpenes, more research needs to be done to substantiate the current claims around its effectiveness, Pinene is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and may be useful for the treatment of anxiety and as pain relief. It’s also believed to help open airways and may even help to combat short-term memory issues that are associated with THC consumption. As with many other Terpenes, Pinene can be found naturally occurring in many other substances like rosemary, parsely, turpentine, orange peels and conifer trees.
What’s particularly interesting about Caryophyllene is that this terpene is the only known terpene to act very similarly to cannabinoids due to its activation of the body’s endocannabinoid system. This activation of the endocannabinoid system, through binding to CB2 receptors, is believed to then offer anti-inflammatory effects (like in other terpenes like Pinene). It may also have antioxidant properties and like with many other terpenes, there are claims that caryophyllene may also help to address issues associated with anxiety and depression. Elsewhere in nature, Caryophyllene is also found in black pepper, hops, cloves, cinnamon, basil and oregano.
For more information take a look at our evidence base, a ground-breaking systematic review of the history of research in this area and a global first-of-its-kind searchable database for clinical referencing.
The rest of our comprehensive resources on medical cannabis are available on our website. We urge anyone considering the use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.