What Are Terps? The 7 Most Common Cannabis Terpenes and Their Effects
Cannabis is a very complex plant with a complex structure. For instance, it contains over 150 types of terpenes, sometimes called terps. What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the essential oils present in ALL plants including the hemp and cannabis plant. Terpenes give plants their individual characteristics like their flavor and aroma. So that distinct aroma that we all identify as marijuana burning, is in part, due to the plant’s terpenes.
Cultivators have begun to create hybrid strains based on their terpene content to alter the taste and their smell, especially for those that are pleasant. Though there are a lot of different terpenes, a few are more common than others in the cannabis plant. We’ll talk about some of the most common terpenes in the paragraphs below. If you would like to get more in-depth information on terpenes, check out HempStaff’s Dispensary Agent Training Courses.
Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis and again, it’s not exclusive to Cannabis. Myrcene can also be found in conifer trees (cedar, pine, fir, cypress, redwood), thyme and parsley. Mangos are so high in myrcene that the myth that eating a mango before consuming cannabis will get you higher, is not a myth. It’s true. Myrcene can lessen inflammation and pain and is also recognized as a sedative. It calms people down and in high enough concentrations can cause drowsiness.
In addition to medicinal properties, myrcene can also cause a quicker high because it speeds up the body’s absorption of cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system, which is a topic for another post on another day.
If the name of this terpene sounds like ‘lemon,’ there’s a good reason. It’s known for its smell, which is similar to citrus. Cannabis strains with high amounts of limonene will be very citrusy in smell and taste. Obviously, limonene is extremely prevalent in lemon, orange lime and other citrus fruits and found in high concentrations in the skin or rind.
Aside from its pleasant scent, limonene has anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects while increasing energy and focus. It is also believed to reduce cancer tumors in preliminary studies. That being said, it’s no substitute for a trained oncologist, and, as a general rule, you should always consult with your doctor before using marijuana or terpenes to treat any condition.
Another terpene named after its aroma, pinene is known for its pine-like smell. Not surprisingly, pinene is the most common terpene in nature and can also be found in pine needles and many of the listed conifer trees. Pinene’s medicinal characteristics include mood lifting and anti-anxiety effects. Pinene is most notably an expectorant and bronchodilator. What does that mean? It means that strains heavy in pinene will make you cough because it will allow the body to open its airways and loosen mucus so that it can be cleared from the lungs. Pinene has shown some success in assisting in memory aid and retention. These studies may be useful for the elder suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, people with TBI (traumatic brain injuries) and for our athletes who show increasing signs of CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
Pinene was historically used to make turpentine, an old concoction that was once used as an industrial solvent. These days, a mixture of price and safety concerns have caused other products to replace turpentine and it’s only used now, in industrial settings.
Pinene is a fantastic bug repellant and plants that are high in pinene us it to their own advantage, to keep them from getting infested by any bugs that want to eat them. Many of our organic pest repellants contain a combination of terpenes with pinene being one of them.
How many of you have used lavender essential oil in your laundry or on your bed linens to help you and your loved ones sleep better? You are using the essential oil IN lavender, which is Linalool. Besides the pleasant floral smell, linalool can help the user relax with its anti-anxiety and anti-depressant characteristics.
Linalool has shown to help fight inflammation and may have anticonvulsant properties and works in the entourage effect between cannabinoids and terpenes to reduce pain and even minimize or eradicate seizures.
Caryophyllene is unique among terpenes in that it can directly interact with the endocannabinoid system because if ingested, it will act like a key for the CB-2 receptors. This has led some to think of it as both a terpene and a cannabinoid.
Caryophyllene smells rich and spicy and found in cinnamon and black pepper. It’s anti-inflammatory properties and pain-relieving abilities lend itself to be an analgesic often used to treat pain.
Caryophyllene has also proven to be antiproliferative and may aid in cancer treatments as a new chemotherapy drug.
Terpinolene’s name comes from turpentine, in which it was one of the two main ingredients (pinene being the other). Terpinolene is earthy and musky in smell much like sage and cumin, where we can find concentrations of this terpene as well.
Terpinolene has been shown to work as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are components in our bodies that help control the number of free radicals in our bodies. Too many free radicals can encourage certain diseases such as cancer.
This brings us to the next great benefit of terpinolene. Terpinolene has shown in studies to slow the growth of cells in various types of cancer.
You may have noticed that marijuana smells similar to certain types of beer. This is because beer is made from hops which is full of humulene.
Like many other terpenes on this list, humulene also boasts anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Humulene can kill bacteria and fungus. Additionally, humulene can suppress appetite and ultimately lower blood sugar. Great news for folks suffering with weight issues.
Why are Terpenes so important?
Terpenes are the essential oils found in cannabis and all living plants. Besides the taste and smell, these terpenes add to the medical benefits our fruits, vegetables and herbs (including cannabis) have to our human diet. Plants have historically been used for humans in three ways: to help us fuel, to help us rest and to help us heal when necessary.
Plant-based diets and plant-based medications are getting more attention now than ever. We’ve gone into detail about a few terpenes in the paragraphs above, but there is just so much more to talk about. If you would like to get more in-depth information on terpenes, check out HempStaff’s Dispensary Agent Training Courses.
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