What Are Terpenes? A Beginner's Guide
When you peel an orange, you will smell that fragrant citrus aroma. When you walk past the flowers sitting on your dining room table, you catch a whiff of that sweet smell. Little did you know, you’re actually smelling the terpenes present in the fruit or flower. Terpenes surround us in our everyday life, but why are they so important?
The ultimate answer is that they can protect your health and improve your overall well-being. And, perhaps best of all, they may even have a connection in the prevention of cancer, but we’ll discuss this in greater detail below.
The most prevalent terpene types, what they are and how they affect your body, how your body can benefit from them, and why terpenes are crucial to the effectiveness of CBD are all covered in this article.
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What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are hydrocarbons; molecules made up of hydrogen and carbon. They're produced in glands of plants called trichomes (1), which look like little hairs on the surface of plants. These trichomes contain hundreds or even thousands of tiny crystals known as glandular trichomes, which produce these hydrocarbon molecules.
Terpenes are the oils that give plants their distinctive aromas and flavors. They're what makes a rose smell like a rose and a lemon taste like a lemon. They're what make pine trees smell like pine trees, and lavender flowers smell like lavender flowers. And they're not just found in plants: humans have them, too! In fact, human skin even contains a few of the same terpenes as plants. They're just in different proportions. For plants, their actual function is to deter pests and draw pollinators for survival.
Cannabis is one of the most abundant and potent sources of terpenes. Although researchers aren't sure of the exact number of existing terpenes, they do know the cannabis plant contains more than 100 distinct terpenes. Terpenes in the cannabis plant are involved in varying the effects of various cannabis strains. Some terpenes aid in relaxation and anxiety reduction. Others are known to aid in concentration.
What Are Terpenes In CBD?
As previously mentioned, there are over 100 different terpenes found in cannabis, and they each have their own unique scent and flavor profile. They have been described as earthy, piney, skunky, sweet, or spicy. The therapeutic uses of each terpene can often be determined based on aroma.
Terpenes are lower in concentration than cannabinoids, but they are easily absorbed by the body making them equally as valuable.
How Terpenes Affect The Body
The terpenes in cannabis interact with your body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) to create the effects you experience when you consume it.
Do Terpenes Make You High?
The short answer is no, terpenes don't make you high. Not exactly, anyway. Although, there is a bit of a gray area when it comes to this question.
When we consume cannabis, our bodies process THC and CBD into a class of chemicals called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids bind to receptors in our brains, and that's why marijuana can get you high. So how could terpenes get you high? The answer is simple: they can't!
Terpenes are just the stuff that makes up the smell of cannabis. While they might be a factor in what makes one strain different from another (just like any other plant), they don't have any psychoactive effects on their own.
Terpenes, in general, can affect our moods and reactions to stress, depression, anxiety, pain management, and even our immune systems. Terpenes can have intoxicating effects on humans because they bind to the same receptors as THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. However, terpenes don't contain THC, so they won't get you high.
What Strain Has The Highest Terpenes?
The strain with the highest terpenes is a strain called "Blue Dream." Blue Dream is a cross between Blueberry and Haze, which is a Sativa-dominant hybrid. There are many strains with high terpene profiles with concentrations being up to 4% weight or higher. If you are looking for terpene-rich blends, review the lab analysis for the product(s) you are considering.
Are Terpenes Safe?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, terpenes are generally recognized as safe and have been approved to be used as food additives by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers' Association.
Where Can Terpenes Be Found?
Terpenes can be found in the oils of many plants and herbs, as well as in some foods. They are also produced by some insects, such as the common housefly (2). Terpenes are used in aromatherapy, which is a form of alternative medicine that uses scents to help treat mental and physical conditions. In cannabis, terpenes can be found (3) in the sticky coating of the cannabis flowers known as the resin.
Types of Terpenes
There are a number of different types of terpenes, which are the compounds that give plants their unique scents and flavors.
- Monoterpenes: These have only two isoprene units, and they're found in mints, citrus fruits, conifers, and some flowers.
- Sesquiterpenes: These have three isoprene units. They're found in many flowers and herbs.
- Diterpenes: These contain four isoprene units. They're found in pine trees, sagebrush, and cannabis.
- Triterpenes: These contain five isoprene units. They're found in conifers like pine trees and hemlock trees.
There are many different types of terpenes, but these are the most common:
The lavender plant contains the most linalool of any plant. Linalool, a terpene, gives lavender its rich, fruity perfume and is largely responsible for the relaxing benefits associated with using lavender in aromatherapy. According to a study published in Colloids and Surfaces Biointerfaces, it has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-cancer, and neuroprotective properties in addition to being a tool for anxiety.
Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and antibacterial properties of beta-myrcene. The most prevalent terpene and one with an earthy aroma is myrcene, which is found in most commercial varieties of cannabis. Additionally, thyme and lemongrass contain myrcene. For millennia, myrcene has been used as a sleep aid.
Myrcene is thought to lessen pain (4) by enhancing the required chemicals that are supplied to the brain and spinal cord. In order to prevent cancer-causing chemicals produced by fungus and eaten in food, antimutagenic properties are required. Myrcene inhibits the CYP2B1 liver enzyme, which lessens the harm done to the body's DNA.
The scent of geraniol is described as rose-like. It's a monoterpene that can be found in the essential oils of numerous fruits, including rose, lavender, citronella, lemongrass, and rose. Additionally, it is frequently used in the cosmetics sector and is released by many different plants. It is a well-known microbial molecule that has anti-cancer, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties, according to the National Library of Medicine (5).
Researchers think it may be a promising chemoprotective drug since it can sensitize tumor cells. Geraniol has been reported to be protective against a wide range of cancers, including breast, lung, colon, prostate, pancreatic, skin, liver, kidney, and oral cancers, according to the National Library of Medicine.
The terpene known as Beta-Caryophyllene, which can also be found in cannabis, is what gives black pepper its distinctive aroma. This terpene works with the body's CB2 (6) endocannabinoid receptor and helps lessen inflammation and pain. Caryophyllene may dramatically lessen anxiety and depression (7).
Pine needles and citrus fruits frequently contain pinene. Pinenes have anti-cancer qualities and are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TVCM). Pinenes have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. According to an article published in Biomolecules (8), “α- and β-pinene are well-known representatives of the monoterpenes group, and are found in many plants’ essential oils. A wide range of pharmacological activities have been reported, including antibiotic resistance modulation, anticoagulant, antitumor, antimicrobial, antimalarial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-Leishmania, and analgesic effects.”
Common terpene cymene has several important biological benefits. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities (9) are among its most frequently mentioned benefits. This terpene is also present in cannabis, anise, oregano, eucalyptus, and cilantro. Pharmaceutical Biology (10) claims that cymene works as an anti-inflammatory by utilizing a number of the body's communication routes. Materials (11) also reported that cymene has anti-inflammatory and pain killing effects. It's also crucial to remember that cymene has anti-tumor properties.
Found in citrus fruits, this terpene is also found in cannabis. It helps regulate mood and relieve stress while reducing symptoms of depression.
Benefits Of Terpenes
Terpenes are one of the most important components in cannabis. They're what gives cannabis its flavor and aroma, but they also have a lot of health benefits!
Terpenes can help you relax and reduce stress. They can also help you sleep better, so if you're having trouble falling asleep (or staying asleep), try adding some terpenes to your regimen. They help protect against free radicals, which can cause cancer and other types of damage to your body. Terpenes can also help relieve pain, especially if you have muscle aches or digestive problems like gas and bloating.
If you're looking for something that will help protect your body from the inside out, consider trying a product that contains high-quality terpenes.
Terpenes vs. Cannabinoids
Terpenes and cannabinoids are both part of the cannabis plant, but they have very different effects on your body.
Terpenes and cannabinoids have many similarities. The following are among the similarities:
- Both are produced by plants and both play a role in the plant's natural defense mechanism.
- Both are found in the resin glands of cannabis plants. In fact, some cannabinoids can be converted into terpenes, while others cannot be converted back into terpenes once they've been used as cannabinoids.
- Both can be extracted from cannabis plants using various methods, against illness and disease by having antiviral properties.
- Both have antioxidant properties, which help to protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
- Both are essential for the growth and survival of a cannabis plant.
Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in cannabis, while terpenes are what give the plant its unique scent, taste, and effects.
Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants that produce aromatic essences that give each strain its signature flavor and smell. Terpenes contribute to the medicinal properties of cannabis by enhancing its effects on the body's endocannabinoid system.
Cannabinoids are another type of chemical compound that is found in cannabis plants. These compounds interact with receptors in our bodies called cannabinoid receptors, which are concentrated throughout our brains, spinal cords, and peripheral nervous systems. Cannabinoids bind with these receptors to activate them, which causes changes in how our bodies react to certain things, such as pain or pleasure.
However, they do not activate all receptors, so there is no way for one cannabinoid to activate all receptors at once. This means that there are many different kinds of cannabinoids out there with different properties.
Is CBD Better With Terpenes?
The entourage effect is a result of the interaction between terpenes and cannabinoids. Cannabinoids and terpenes work well together to help reduce inflammation, anxiety, and pain, among other things. This is why it's so important to make sure you're getting a full-spectrum, high-quality CBD tincture.
As a side note, checking the Certificate of Analysis can help you determine the purity of a particular product as well as discover which cannabinoids and terpenes are present.
Improving Life With Terpenes
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are released when essential oils and other plant matter are decomposed. They have a wide range of biological effects, including antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antimicrobial benefits. Terpenes have been commonly used in aromatherapy for centuries, but only recently have they been popularized in the cannabis industry.
As you can see, terpenes are an integral part of the cannabis experience, and they serve to enhance the effect of cannabinoids on your body, allowing you to enjoy this incredible plant even more.
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