What Are Terpenes, How Do They Improve Your Health
The aroma of cannabis plant is unmistakable. Terpenes are an aromatic compound that give flowers and herbs their scent. These naturally occurring chemical compounds give cannabis its distinctive smell and flavor. There are more than 150 types of different terpenes in the average cannabis product that make up different strains and scents.
What makes a particular herbal strain or concentrate hit the spot? Is it the skunky smell, the citrusy flavor, or the spicy coffee undertone? With the escalating conversation around cannabis and its health benefits, you may have heard of terpenes and be curious to know more. Apart from having a specific scent, the essential oils or terpenes of plants have a deeper purpose and different benefits for your health.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are the natural organic compounds in plants responsible for their unique scents and flavors. They are a category of "secondary metabolites," meaning they are not essential for the plant's growth, development, or reproduction.
While conversation about terpenes usually focuses on the topic of cannabis, terpenes are also produced by other flowering plants. From herbal and citrus tones to woody, pine needles, and floral notes, the excitement caused by terpenes in our nasal passages continues into our bodies and can provide further benefits for our wellness.
How Do Cannabis Terpenes Benefit Us?
Each cannabis strain has a unique terpene profile and type. Why does this matter? The terpenes in the strain you choose can significantly influence the overall effects and health boosts that you experience. This is called the Entourage Effect.
The Entourage Effect is what a user experiences due to the combined effect of cannabinoids and terpenes. Every human has an Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS balances various functions, including mood, metabolism, sleep, inflammatory response, pain, and physiology. The ECS is controlled by receptors in the brain that react to both endocannabinoids (produced within the body) and phytocannabinoids (made by plants).
Full-spectrum or enhanced terpene products can intensify the ECSs performance, promoting overall balance in the body. Some manufacturers and specialists can now isolate or combine terpenes to achieve specific effects.
For example, the terpenes α- and β-Pinene may help with occasional discomfort (analgesic), support inflammatory responses and antibiotic resistance modulation, provide antimicrobial properties (they can destroy microorganisms), and more.
Linoloon, also found in lavender and coriander, carries a floral scent. This terpene has been demonstrated to support "improved learning and spatial memory," restore "cognitive and emotional functions via an anti-inflammatory effect," and can potentially reverse the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.
Different Cannabis Terpenes
There are around 400 terpenes known in cannabis, and the function and potential benefit of each terpene is still being studied. Interest in cannabis Sativa has grown for its medicinal purposes. Here are a few of the most common terpene types:
- Limonene has shown some medicinal properties. It may fight the free radicals that cause cancer, support the inflammatory response, anti-anxiety effects and more. Limonene is found in many natural products and citrus fruits.
- Myrcene promotes relaxation.
- β-caryophyllene can provide therapeutic benefits as it helps with stress management and pain. It exists in many herbs and vegetables like black pepper.
- Caryophyllene oxide has also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Nerolidol has a sedative effect and can also aid the body with its antioxidant, antifungal, and anticancer properties.
- Phytol aids inflammation.
- Ocimene can help with sleep disorders and muscle aches.
- Beta pinene has abilities to kill viruses.
What's better than the individual effects of each terpene? The synergistic effect of multiple terpenes. By combining terpenes, experts can create unique cannabis strains that have a targeted impact on symptoms or illnesses, including migraines, general pain, anxiety, restlessness, and much more.
Pleasant Palate, Powerful Perks
Terpenes not only differentiate the smell of different plants - cannabis flowers included - but they have therapeutic properties too. Now that you know the basics, you can choose strains and concentrates that emphasize terpene types and full-plant benefits.