Terpenes are a fascinating element of nature that has recently gained much attention due to the cannabis industry. However, terpenes have been studied for hundreds of years for their therapeutic potential. With more and more research, we are finding the effects of terpenes go beyond just therapeutic to simply miraculous.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are volatile, aromatic metabolites that can be found in the oils of plants. These compounds are responsible for the different smells that we associate with different foods, perfumes, personal hygiene products, cleaning solutions and other everyday items. They appear often in the common human diet and for this reason have been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe for consumption.
Most notably, terpenes are responsible for the pleasant, or not so pleasant, aromas of cannabis and the physiological effects associated with them. However, research is showing that there are much more to terpenes than meet the nose.
Terpenes make up the largest and most diverse class of naturally occurring compounds found most commonly in plants, but also exist in animals and even microorganisms. While cannabis contains a few hundred of them, it has been said there are over 20,000 terpenes found in nature.
A fascinating study by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in 2017, demonstrated that bacteria and fungi, which far outnumber all animals and plants on Earth, actually communicate with each other through terpenes.
Where are Terpenes Found?
Terpenes are found inside the small resin glands of cannabis, which are called trichomes. These are the tiny, crystal-like hairs that mainly cover the surface of the flower of the plant. Trichomes serve several biological functions but most importantly, they act as the cannabis plant's natural defense system from fungus, bacteria, insects, animals and other environmental stressors, such as damaging winds and harsh UV rays. The terpenes inside these trichomes play the incredibly important role of attracting pollinators and deterring predators with their strong scent and bitter taste.
The Entourage Effect
Trichomes are also home to other medicinal compounds of the cannabis plant such as cannabinoids (like CBD and THC), flavonoids and other phytonutrients. In full spectrum products, many of these compounds interact synergistically with one another to create what is known as the 'entourage effect'. The idea here is that when these compounds are consumed together, the therapeutic effects are magnified and the medicinal impact is much greater than the effect of the isolated molecules alone (as in a CBD isolate).
The role of terpenes within the entourage effect is quite fascinating. Terpenes have been shown to help cannabinoids pass through the bloodstream with ease. And in doing so, they enhance their own medicinal properties as well as the medicinal properties of cannabinoids.
A groundbreaking 2011 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology discusses the incredible synergy created between cannabinoids and terpenes. This paper shows how they work together to boost and modulate the effects of one another within the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Up until recently, THC was considered the only compound of importance in regards to a psychoactive effect. However, this paper helped reveal how other cannabinoids and terpenes can either increase or decrease the effects of THC and other chemicals in the body that interact with the ECS.
How Important are Terpenes?
As we've seen, terpenes are much more than just appealing fragrances. Chemists are currently studying their potential antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibiotic, antiviral and anti-anxiety effects. As if that weren't enough, terpenes have been shown to increase blood flow, enhance the activity of the cerebral cortex and kill respiratory pathogens. It's no wonder why these compounds are sought after for their medicinal properties.
Types of Terpenes
This is the most common terpene that can be found in cannabis. It has anti-inflammatory properties and in addition to cannabis plants, pinene is also found in pine needles (hence the name), orange peels, parsley, and basil.
It helps counter short-term memory loss from THC, promotes alertness, and improves airflow to the lungs.
This terpene is also recognized as the first known "dietary cannabinoid." It is a well-known active principle of black pepper, cloves and rosemary. It has a spicy, peppery scent.
Interestingly, this terpene selectively binds to the CB2 receptorand could therefore technically be considered a phytocannabinoid.
This citrus-smelling terpene is commonly found in many cleaning products and perfumes and helps to alleviate stress and elevate mood.
Studies have demonstrated Limonene's anti-anxiety and antidepressant potential in both animals and humans. Limonene also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and it can help to improve the absorption of other chemicals and other terpenes.
Myrcene, a terpene commonly found in hop, has an earthy, musky, and fruity scent to it. In addition to cannabis, it's found in thyme, lemongrass, mangos, and basil. It's recognized as a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It also contains sedative properties, making it a great muscle relaxer.
This terpene is found in coriander, hops, basil, and cloves. It has anti-inflammatory properties and it also works as an appetite suppressant.
This terpene, commonly found in lavender, has a spicy and floral aroma. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant effects and it is great for stress relief. Many people use linalool to help manage their anxiety and psychosis. Some studies even suggest linalool is an immune system booster.
Terpinolene has a smoky and woodsy scent. It is found in cloves, cinnamon leaves, Thai basil, rosemary and sage.
It has antibacterial and antioxidant properties and can help induce drowsiness and reduce anxiety.
Ananda Hemp Terpenes
At Ananda Hemp, we believe in the science of full spectrum for optimal health and wellness. Terpenes play an important role in what makes our products so special. In addition to the plant's natural terpenes, we carefully select botanical terpenes that have been proven to interact with the endocannabinoid system, such as Beta-Caryophyllene and Myrcene. Our goal is to create the most potent whole plant, full spectrum extracts found on the market.
For more information, visit our website at www.anandahemp.com.