Why Are Terpenes Important?

Terpenes are aromatic oils which contribute to the fragrance and taste of marijuana. They are a vital part of cannabis therapy for several reasons. Not only do they have a range of benefits of their own, but they may also influence the way your body utilizes cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.

See our breakdown below for more information on different terpenes and the ways you can best utilize them in your medical practice

terpenes

Of the Trees

Nerilodol is the primary scent compound of Mexican Orchids and has found its way into many lotions and perfumes. It’s also present in essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, and tea tree.  You’ve probably ingested Nerilodol before, as it is commonly present in candy and chewing gum, where it is used as a flavoring and scent component.

Common in many plants and flowers, Nerilodol has shown to have antifungal, sedative, anticancer, antibacterial, and anti-anxiety properties. Of these, its sedative effects seem to be its greatest asset, lauded as a natural sleep aid and relaxant.

This terpene has also shown potential to treat some neurological conditions, namely Parkinson’s. And while further research is needed, studies suggest Nerilodol may have the ability to make some bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics and could be used as a tool against malaria.

Characterized by a woodsy profile similar to fresh tree bark, Nerilodol is the primary scent compound of Mexican Orchids and has found its way into many lotions and perfumes.

  • Jack Herer
  • Blue Dream
  • Skywalker OG

The Lurker

Terpinolene isn’t a major player in modern Cannabis, as it’s usually present in small amounts, but its benefits are not to be overlooked! As an essential oil, Terpinolene has shown antibacterial and anti fungal qualities. Emerging research also shows its potential to reduce heart disease and calm the nervous system.

In a 2013 study, findings found that Terpinolene to be a potent anti-proliferative agent for brain tumor cells and may also provide defenses against inflammation and oxidative damage, which are both associated with cancer. As an essential oil, Terpinolene has shown antibacterial and anti fungal qualities. Emerging research also shows its potential to reduce heart disease and calm the nervous system.

Piney, floral, herbaceous, AND citric, Terpinolene’s flavor is characterized by a little bit of everything. You’ll also find it in lilacs, cumin, apples, nutmeg, and many other plants.

  • Dutch Treat
  • XJ-13
  • Golden Pineapple

The Tumor Terminator

Though Humulene is typically present in Cannabis in smaller amounts than other terpenes, its benefits are expansive and well-researched.

However, research has also shown its ability to produce Reactive Oxygen Species, making it an active mechanism for fighting tumors. When combined with phytocannabinoids, it may help terminate cancer cells all together!

Characterized by an herbaceous, floral profile, it’s found in many plants used in holistic Eastern medicine. 

  • Girl Scout Cookies
  • Original Glue
  • Sherbert
  • OG Kush

A terpene with surprising benefits

Studies have shown that Myrcene can block the cancer-causing effects of aflatoxins that find their way to our food. These anti-mutagen properties stem from myrcene’s inhibition of the liver enzyme, CYP2B1, which induces aflatoxin’s ability to damage our DNA. Myrcene also protects against DNA damage from toxins such as t-butyl-hydroperoxide. 

This terpene has a long history in folk medicine, used internationally for centuries as a natural sleep aid. It also has muscle-relaxant properties, as well as anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving effects. 

Characterized by a peppery, spicy flavor, it’s present in many other plants, such as thyme, mango, and lemongrass. 

  • Blue Dream
  • Rosetta Stone
  • OG Kush
  • Granddaddy Purple

Sweet, fruity, & anti-“everything"

Ocimene has shown to suppress our immune system’s production of several inflammatory substances. However, further research suggests this terpene could help treat symptoms of both Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension by inhibiting the proliferation of key enzymes.

In addition to treating symptoms of Diabetes and Hypertension, it  also has shown anti-oxidative, anti-fungal, antiviral, and decongestive properties.

Characterized by an herbaceous, aromatic profile, it’s a monoterpene present in many other plants, such as kumquats, hops, and orchids. 

  • Green Crack
  • Dutch Treat
  • Amnesia

Peace of mind and body

This terpene has long used in medicine for its sedative and anti-epileptic properties, but linalool has also been found to reduce anxiety and depression. Linalool has the ability to block glutamate receptors, which accounts for its anti-epileptic effects; it also reduces the strength of acetylcholine, lessening muscle contraction and movement and reducing pain signals to the brain. 

Linalool acts as a nervous system depressant, offering sedative, anxiety-reducing, and pain-relieving benefits.

Characterized by a floral, spicy flavor, it’s found in hundreds of well-known plants, such as lavender, mint, citrus and fungi. Without knowing it, you likely consume two grams of linalool a year! 

  • Starbet
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Skywalker OG
  • Pink Kush

The Multi-tasker

People have been extracting limonene from citrus fruits for centuries, and we find it in many strains of Cannabis today. When it comes to the terpene’s medical benefits, the real question is what Limonene CAN’T do!

Limonene delivers on an elevated mood and stress relief, and it has anti-fungal and antibacterial effects as well. Studies have shown that it could also relieve heartburn and gastric reflux, and there’s promising evidence for limonene’s anti-tumor effects. This is true specifically for breast and mammary tumors, as it has been found to silence a protein that promotes breast cancer tumor growth. Additionally, Limonene may lower your risk of heart disease by reducing certain risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels.

Rich in citric flavors like tangerine, grapefruit, and lemon, you’ll also find it in everyday items, such as cosmetics, cleaning products, and fruit rinds.

  • Strawberry Banana
  • Do-Si-Do
  • Tahoe OG

Like strolling through a forest

Working in synergy with THC, alpha-pinene acts as a bronchodilator, opening up airways at low exposure levels to help conditions like asthma. Alpha-pinene can also counteract the less desirable effects of THC, such as anxiety and short-term memory. It works by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain, which helps you retain memories more efficiently.

Cannabis users also know Pinene for its extensive effects on the mind and body. Anti-inflammatory, -cancer, -microbial, and -depressant; it’s also effective for respiratory issues, AND it’s neuroprotective. ⠀

Characterized by a—well, you guessed it—“piney” flavor, it’s one the most abundant terpene in modern Cannabis. I’s also present in many other plants, such as pine, rosemary, and basil. 

  • Blue Dream
  • Snoop’s Dream
  • OG Kush
  • Grape Ape

Underdog of the terpene world

Caryophyllene is the first known, non-cannabinoid to bind directly to our bodies’ CB2 (Endocannabinoid) receptors, primarily located in the spleen, white blood cells, and endocrine gland. Caryophyllene also binds to our reproductive, gastrointestinal, and urinary tracts.

Powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, with proven ability to ease pain, reduce substance dependence and gene stress, and aid with anxiety and depression

Characterized by a spicy, sweet, warm flavor. It’s also the main terpene found in popular spices such as pepper, cloves, and basil!

  • Purple Bud
  • Hindu Cream
  • OG Kush
  • Girl Scout Cookies