what are terpenes?

cannabis terpenes

Terpenes 101

Cannabis-derived terpenes are the flavorful, aromatic components of the hemp plant’s essential oils. Let’s take a deeper look at some key hemp terpenes: 

Beta-caryophyllene

  • Beta-caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene found in plants like Thai basils, cloves, cinnamon leaves and black pepper—and in minor quantities in lavender.
  • Beta-caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid system.
  • Studies show the promise of b–caryophyllene as an integrative part of cancer treatment.
  • As a functional CB2 agonist that selectively binds to the CB2 receptor, b-caryophyllene has also been identified as a macrocyclic anti-inflammatory cannabinoid in cannabis.
beta-caryophyllene​

Camphene

  • Camphene may play a critical role in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
  • Clinical studies have found that camphene lowers plasma cholesterol and triglycerides in hyperlipidemic rats. Given hyperlipidemia’s role in heart disease risk, these studies offer insight into how camphene’s potential use as an alternative to pharmaceutical lipid-lowering agents.
  • Traditional lipid-lowering agents are proven to cause intestinal problems, liver damage and muscle inflammation for some patients. Camphene’s possible use as a lipid-lowering agent warrants further investigation.

carene

  • Delta-3-carene is naturally occurring in many healthy, beneficial essential oils like cypress oil, juniper berry oil and fir needle.
  • In higher concentrations, delta-3-carene can depress the central nervous system.
  • Delta-3-carene is often used to dry out excess body fluids like tears, mucus and sweat.

Geraniol

  • Geraniol is found in several varieties of flower, vegetable and fruit species. This terpene is naturally occurring in geraniums, blueberries, lemon peels, roses and other plants.
  • Geraniol contributes to cannabis’ sweet, floral aroma. It is also produced by bees, who mark their territories with its scent. Geraniol is known to repel mosquitos.
  • Geraniol has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities, and it shows promise in treating neuropathy and a variety of other health conditions.
humulene

Humulene

  • Humulene is a sesquiterpene also known as α-humulene and α–caryophyllene.
  • Found in hops, cannabis sativa strains, Vietnamese coriander and other naturally occurring substances, humulene is considered anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anorectic (suppressing appetite).
  • When blended with β–caryophyllene, humulene is commonly used as an inflammation remedy.
  • Trusted for generations in Chinese medicine, humulene’s appetite-suppressing qualities make it popular for weight loss.

Linalool

  • Linalool promotes calm and relaxation. It has been used for centuries as a sleep aid.
  • This monoterpenoid reduces anxious emotions provoked by pure THC, which makes it helpful in the treatment of psychosis and anxiety.
  • Studies suggest that linalool reduces lung inflammation, boosts immunity and restores cognitive and emotional function. These cognitive and emotional benefits make it particularly useful in Alzheimer’s treatment.

limonene

  • High-limonene cannabis strains may lift the mood and promote a sense of well-being.
  • This citrusy terpene is the principal constituent in citrus fruit rinds, juniper, rosemary, peppermint and several pine needle oils.
  • Limonene is highly absorbed by inhalation and appears quickly in the bloodstream. Clinical studies have shown that it helps other terpenes absorb through the skin and other body tissues.

Myrcene

  • Myrcene, specifically β-myrcene, is a monoterpene. It is the most common cannabis-produced terpene.
  • Myrcene is found in bay leaves, citrus fruits, oil of hops, eucalyptus, lemongrass and other plants.
  • Myrcene has unique medicinal properties, including its ability to lower resistance across the blood-brain barrier. This allows myrcene and other chemicals to cross the blood-brain barrier more efficiently.

Phellandrene

  • Described as “pepperminty,” phellandrene is used by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) specialists to treat digestive conditions.
  • Phellandrene is a main compound in turmeric leaf oil, which is used to prevent and treat systemic fungal infections.
Myrcene

pinene

  • Pinene is physiologically important to plants and animals and is a principal monoterpene.
  • Pinene tends to react with other chemicals, forming a variety of other compounds and terpenes (like limonene).
  • Pinene is used as an anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, expectorant and local antiseptic.
  • Clinical studies indicate the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol may be lessened when the THC is mixed with pinene.

Pulegone

  • Pulegone is a monocyclic monoterpenoid. It is a minor component of cannabis, with higher concentrations found in rosemary.
  • Rosemary allows nerve cells to communicate more effectively by breaking down acetylcholine in the brain.
  • Pulegone may have sedative and fever-reducing properties. It could also reduce the side effects of short-term memory loss sometimes linked with long-term THC use.

Terpineol

  • Terpinen-4-ol, α-Terpineol and 4-terpineol are three related monoterpenoids.
  • Terpineol (specifically α-terpineol) delivers calm, relaxing effects.
  • Terpineol is also known for its antibiotic, antioxidant and antimalarial properties.

Terpinolene

  • Terpinolene is a common component of rosemary and sage. It has been found to act as a central nervous system depressant.
  • Studies indicate that terpinolene may induce drowsiness, encourage sleep or reduce anxiety.
  • Terpinolene was found to notably reduce the protein expression of AKT1 in K562 cells and inhibit cell proliferation in many types of human cancer.

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