Terpenes are found in every cannabis plant and are known as the compounds that are responsible for giving cannabis its distinctive smell. These fragrant oils secreted by the plant are also deemed responsible for the plant’s flavour, with different varieties and strains of the plant having distinct tastes dependent upon their terpene content.
Although terpenes are secreted by the same glands as the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids, they are considered different entities with entirely different properties. There are thought to be over 100 terpenes in the cannabis plant that aside from adding to the smell of the plant, supposedly act as part of the theorised ‘entourage effect’ of cannabis, making it more therapeutically effective overall.
Terpenes are thought to have originally developed for the evolutionary purpose of attracting pollinators and repelling predators. Terpenes vary from plant to plant and a multitude of different factors affect the cannabis plant’s development of terpenes including the climate the plant is growing in, the type of fertilisers used and the type of soil amongst other factors.
Some common terpenes include:
· Beta-Caryophyllene which has aromas of wood, pepper and spice and has potential medical benefits related to inflammation, pain and insomnia.
· Myrcene which has aromas of citrus, cloves and musk and has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities. It’s also thought to be relaxing and sedating.
· Pinene which has sharp, sweet aromas and helps with inflammation, asthma and alertness.
· Limonene which has citrus aromas and helps with depression and anxiety with mood boosting and stress relieving effects.
These varying terpene contents of different strains of the cannabis plant mean that different varieties of the plant promote different therapeutic effects. For instance, some are believed to be good for stress relief whilst others are energising or promote focus. However, many more scientific tests are required to determine to what extent these claims are true.
For the time being however, many more cannabis labs have begun testing and displaying the terpene content of different cannabis strains so consumers can have a better idea of what effects their chosen strain may have on them. With knowledge around terpenes growing all the time, perhaps with time terpenes will become regarded as a part of the cannabis plant with equal importance to CBD and THC.
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.