What are terpenes? Cannabis Terpene guide

Have you ever used lavender essential oil to help yourself calm down, or drank lemon tea to settle a stomach ache? If so, you have experienced the benefits of terpenes! What are terpenes? As defined by Weedmaps, “Terpenes are responsible for the aroma and flavors of cannabis, and influence its effects by interacting with cannabinoids. Terpenes are formed inside cannabis trichomes, and their relative presence is directly affected by both the spectrum and intensity of light exposure.” All plants have terpenes, they just play a special role in cannabis by enhancing the entourage effect.

Any strain of cannabis will contain some THC, CBD, CBG and/or other cannabinoids, but terpenes are responsible for whether a strain has energizing or sedating effects, and contributes to specific medicinal properties of each strain. 

Understanding terpenes is necessary for patients to find the ideal product to treat their symptoms. When you receive a new product, read the product label and try to learn about each terpene. The more familiar you become with the terpenes in your products, the easier it will be to determine which terpenes work best for you! 

We have created a guide to help fellow patients undemanding popular terpenes you may come across in your medical cannabis products. Please note, terpenes are naturally occurring molecules in all plants, and each patient will have a different experience depending on various anatomical factors. Keep in mind, some patients with mood disorders like anxiety have reported that a high potency of any specific terpene with uplifting or energizing effects may actually induce anxiety due to over-stimulation of their system. In this guide, you will find where terpenes are found and it’s proposed medicinal benefits. 

This terpene guide will be routinely updated with a few terpenes at a time.

DISCLAIMER: This information is based on the available research and patient feedback. Each terpene lists examples of conditions that patients claim these terpenes have helped with, but have also been backed by research. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. 

Limonene is a monoterpene with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, anti-bacterical, anti-anxiety, analgesic and anti-cancer effects. This terpene is very common in cannabis, but also found in lemons, mint, juniper, rosemary, and pine. It is used to help treat mood disorders like anxiety, PTSD, and depression as well as chronic pain, arthritis, IBS, nausea, and gastrointestinal issues. Studies have shown that limonene has anti-cancer effects. Limonene is known to be both calming and uplifting, so you may find this terpene to be dominant in both sativa and indica strains. The effects of limonene in a strain will be determined by the other terpenes it is paired with in that particular strain.

Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis. This monoterpene’s benefits include anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and is known to have sedative effects in high potencies. Patients who suffer from pain, insomnia, and muscle spasms often benefit from high amounts of myrcene. Strains high in myrcene are known to make patients feel the effects of THC more intensely. This is probably because myrcene is known to lower the resistance of the blood-brain barrier, which allows THC and other cannabinoids to be absorbed more easily by the body.

Keep in mind that intense amounts of THC can induce anxiety or headache, so even experienced patients may want to start out with slightly lower doses when using high in myrcene. Although products with high amounts of myrcene are usually ideal for sleep, note that just because a strain is high in myrcene does not necessarily mean it belongs in the indica category and should be used for sleep.

Pinene is a monoterpene with two isomers, a-pinene and b-pinene. Just like the name sounds, pinene is notorious for giving pine trees their invigorating aroma. This terpene is also found in other common plants like mint, conifer trees, and orange peels. Pinene is a natural anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator (helps clear airways). It is also known to be uplifting and helps with memory and focus.

Due to its uplifting and energizing effects, many patients find strains high in pinene to helpful in treating depression and other mental health disorders. Studies have also shown pinene to be a neuroprotectant, being effective in the treatment of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive dysfunction, amnesia, and overall memory loss. Keep in mind, pinene is known to be energizing and improve focus, high amounts of this terpene may increase anxiety in some patients.

Beta-Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene popularly associated with giving black pepper its spicy kick. Although beta-caryophyllene is indeed found in black pepper, it is also found in other common plants such as basil, cinnamon, rosemary, and cloves! Similar to myrcene, this terpene also lowers the resistance of the blood-brain barrier, which allows other molecules such as THC and CBD to be absorbed by the body more easily. Beta-Caryophyllene is known to have powerful antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. Many patients find strains high in beta-caryophyllene helpful in treating pain, neuropathy, seizures, IBS, nausea, and PTSD.

Humulene is a sesquiterpene terpene named after the hops plant (humulus lupulus). It is also found in ginseng, black pepper, sage, and coriander. Humulene is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, appetite suppressant, antibacterial, and also has anti-tumor properties. Many patients also report feeling calm and happy after using strains high in humulene. Because of the powerful anti-inflammatory effects, it is also very effective for treating pain.

Terpinolene is a monoterpene found in apples, lilacs, cumin, orchids, lilacs, cardamom, tea tree, and sage. This terpene acts as an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-tumor. Many patients experience energizing and creative effects from terpinolene, after using strains like Golden Goat and Mob Boss. On the contrary, some patients may experience sedating effects after using certain strains of cannabis such as Jesus OG and Banana Kush.

Linalool is a monoterpene popular commonly associated with the calming effects of lavender. Linalool is also found in birch bark, thyme, rosewood, and even some fungi. This floral terpene is known to be a neuroprotectant, anti-microbial, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant. Linalool is one of the best terpenes to look for when treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain relief. This terpene is also commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.

Ocimene is a monoterpene found in many plants such as mint, parsley, and orchids. This terpene has a unique set of benefits including the ability to inhibit key enzymes connected to type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Ocimene is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, and bronchodilator; it was even used in treating the SARS virus. Many patients also experience uplifting effects from strains high in ocimene.

Geraniol is a monoterpene found in geraniums, lemons, tobacco, and lemongrass. This terpene is commonly used outside the cannabis industry in candy, medicines, and perfumes. It is known to have many possible benefits, having anti-spasmodic, neuroprotectant, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-tumor properties. Patients and studies report this terpene can help with neuropathy, cancer, and managing diabetes and hyperglycemia.

Valencene is a sesquiterpene found in oranges, olive oil, and many other plants. This terpene is known to be an anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, anti-allergy, and skin protectant. Valencene has also been shown to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs in a 2017 study published in the journal of Molecules. This terpene is known to promote cognitive function and alertness, giving some patients relief from fatigue and depression.

If you’re a tea drinker, bisabolol is a terpene you may be familiar with even if you haven’t heard its name. Bisabolol is commonly found in chamomile and candeia trees. This terpene has anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, and analgesic properties. Bisabolol is known to be calming. When this terpene is found paired with energizing terpenes in a strain like Tangie, it is known to make patients feel happy and calm. In large doses, or when paired with other calming terpenes, it is known to be sedating. Many patients seek strains high in bisabolol to treat anxiety, insomnia, depression, and skin issues.

Sources:

Weedmaps, ACM Digital Library, Pinene: National Center for Biotechnology Information, Beta-Caryophyllene: NCBI, humulus lupulus,

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