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Cannabis Terpenes 101 – What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally made by all plants on earth and are the essential oil that gives each plant its unique scent, flavour and effect. Flowers, fruits and herbs all smell when you touch or walk past them…this is terpenes at work!

Has a scent or fragrance ever transported you back to a certain afternoon of your childhood, to a memory that you haven’t recalled in many years? That’s terpenes. Every day, we encounter terpenes –when you juice an orange or cut some fresh coriander, that lovely fresh smell is terpenes working their magic. Ever wondered why people love roses so much? It's because they each have a unique terpene profile that smells independently beautiful. The sense of smell is perhaps our most underappreciated sense, and yet it has the ability to strongly affect our mood.

Why Are Terpenes So Important?

In the field of cannabis research, terpenes are at the cutting edge of new applications for medicinal marijuana. Scientifically speaking, Terpenes are scented molecules that affect how we feel when applied to the skin, inhaled or consumed. Over 20,000 terpenes have been identified and are the most basic essential oils produced in our natural environment. Animals, plants, fungi and microbes produce terpenes to carry out necessary biological functions that produce vitamins, hormones and pheromones. Terpenes are essential building blocks that come together to make complex essential oils, producing many full plant essential oils that you’ll be intimately familiar with – Lavender and Eucalyptus, for example. 

The scent is what makes terpenes famous, but they also play an important part in how we feel when we consume cannabis or eat a piece of fruit. This is because terpenes work in synergy with other botanical compounds and interact with our native hormones to give us these feelings. 

Medical & Therapeutic Use of Terpenes

Terpenes bind to receptors in your brain, working in harmony with your endocannabinoid system to help bring homeostasis to the body. Historically, essential oils have been used for thousands of years to help with illness and cure specific ailments. Various terpenes (including the most prominent ones in cannabis) continue to be researched extensively, and we are learning more about these wonderful molecules and how they can improve our lives each day. 

Terpenes have been demonstrated to have various effects on our bodies and can increase the therapeutic properties of cannabis in a process known as the "Entourage Effect." 

The Top 5 Terpenes Found In Cannabis 

Myrcene

Myrcene

The most common terpene found in cannabis is also present in tropical fruits such as mango, citrus, hops, parsley, basil, lemongrass and thyme. It has a fruity, woody and citrus-like scent, which is partly why we used it in our first gin – we even included Myrcene in its name! If a cannabis strain has more than 0.5% myrcene, it's an Indica. Anything less it's a Sativa. 

Flavour Profile: 

Fruit, Geranium, Balsamic,  

Medical Research:

Myrcene is regarded as one of the most fascinating and highly-sought after terpenes due to its potent anti-inflammatory, sedativeanalgesic (pain-relieving) and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. It also has strong antioxidant properties.   

Entourage Effects (when combined with cannabinoids):

Analgesic - CBD, THC

Sedative - THC, CBN

Anti-oxidant - CBD, CBG

Common Strains containing Myrcene: 

Jack Herer, Superbud, Strawberry Haze

Limonene

Limonene

Limonene is the second most common terpene found in cannabis and has an intense citrus scent which comes from the rinds of the lemon and orange it's usually found in. Also found in juniper and peppermint, Limonene is commonplace in perfume and other products due to its pleasant smell and low toxicity. We like it so much that we used it as the primary terpene in our Jilungin Dreaming Hemp Gin

Flavour Profile: 

Citrus

Medical Research: 

A number of research studies have been completed on Limonene which demonstrate anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s considered a possible treatment for cancer, including prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer.  

Entourage Effects (when combined with cannabinoids):

Anti-cancer - CBG, CBN

Anti-depressant - CBG, CBD

Common Strains with Limonene: 

Lemon Haze, Bubba Kush, Sour Diesel

Linalool

Linalool 

Linalool has a floral, sweet, woody and blueberry scent, technically classed as terpene alcohol. A unique terpene that has been used for thousands of years to treat anxiety and has proven sedative properties, Linalool is found in birch, lavender and rosewood. It can be used as a relaxant and is currently being researched for its influence on reducing certain types of cancer. 

Flavour Profile: 

Rose, Floral, Lavender

Medical Research:

A very special terpene that shows promise in treating pain signals, reducing tumours and promoting sleep. Used for centuries to treat anxiety, linalool continues to be researched extensively for various ailments. A wide variety of studies have shown benefits around cancer, pain relief, as an anticonvulsant and as a sedative:

Entourage Effects (when combined with cannabinoids):

Anti-anxiety - CBG, CBD

Sedative - CBN, THC

Anti-convulsant - CBD, THCV

Common Strains with Linalool: 

Skywalker OG, Pink Kush, Lavender 

Pinene

Pinene 

Pinene is found in many plants including cannabis, pine trees and rosemary. It's shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and is known to affect our memory positively. Have you ever walked through a pine forest and felt a deep contentment or sense of peacefulness? You’re probably experiencing pinene.

Flavour Profile: 

Piney, Sharp, Sweet

Medical Research:

Pinene can assist patients suffering from Crohn's Disease, arthritis, other inflammation-related conditions and cancer. It can improve airflow and respiratory functions while helping reduce memory loss

Entourage Effects (when combined with cannabinoids):

Anti-inflammatory - CBD, CBG

Anti-cancer - CBD, THC

Memory enhancer - CBD, CBN

Common Strains with Pinene: 

Jack Herer, Blue Dream, OG Kush

Beta-Caryophyllene

Beta-Caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene can activate receptors inside our body, including the CB2 receptors, which makes this a particularly noteworthy terpene. Found in basil, black pepper and cloves, it's also prevalent in many cannabis strains and has a spicy, peppery and woody scent. 

Flavour Profile: 

Peppery, Spicy, Woody

Medical Research:

Pre-clinical research has indicated that this terpene can be therapeutic in many diseases ranging from alcoholism to reducing pain and helping with inflammation. Beta-caryophyllene has anti-oxidant properties and also binds to the same receptors as other cannabinoids.  

Entourage Effects (when combined with cannabinoids):

Analgesic - CBD, CBG

Anti-inflammatory - CBD

Common Strains with Beta-Caryophyllene: 

Girl Scout Cookies, White Widow, Chemdog

 

 

READ NEXT: The Entourage Effect – How terpenes interact with other cannabinoids

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