Terpenes 101: Everything You Need to Know
Terpenes are organic substances that can be found in many different plants and are known for their distinctive smells and scents. They are gradually emerging as a significant component of the cannabis industry and have several uses in a variety of sectors, including food and cosmetics. This blog post will provide an in-depth overview of terpenes, including their types, benefits, and how they affect different aspects of our lives.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are naturally occurring organic compounds that are present in a wide range of plants and fruits, including pine trees, lavender, and oranges. They are responsible for giving these plants their distinctive flavour and aroma, and they may also contribute to several health benefits.
There are many different types of terpenes, each with their own unique characteristics and effects. Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis include limonene, myrcene, and pinene. Limonene is found in citrus fruits and has a citrusy, lemony aroma. Myrcene is found in plants such as hops, thyme, and lemongrass, and has a musky, earthy aroma. Pinene is found in pine trees and has a fresh, piney aroma.
In addition to providing aroma and flavour, terpenes can also have various therapeutic benefits. For instance, some terpenes are well known for their ability to reduce inflammation and discomfort, but others have been found to have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects.
Terpenes are also found in the cannabis plant. Terpenes themselves do not produce a “high” or psychoactive effects because they are not cannabinoids like THC found in cannabis. Terpenes, on the other hand, can work in combination with cannabinoids to enhance or change the cannabis plant's effects, known as the “entourage effect." (The "entourage effect" occurs when cannabinoids and terpenes combine to provide a stronger or more unique effect than either compound alone.)
Types of Terpenes
Terpenes come in different types, which are classified based on the number of isoprene units they contain. Isoprene units are five-carbon molecules that combine to form terpenes. The most common terpenes contain either 10 or 15 carbon atoms.
- Monoterpenes: These contain two isoprene units and are commonly found in plants such as lemon, lavender, and peppermint. Limonene, which is a common terpene found in lemons, has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Sesquiterpenes: These are another type of terpene that contains three isoprene units. They are found in plants such as ginger, black pepper, and turmeric. Beta-caryophyllene is a common sesquiterpene found in black pepper, and it has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Diterpenes: These contain four isoprene units and are found in plants such as coffee, rice, and tobacco. Cafestol is a common diterpene found in coffee, and it has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the risk of developing liver cancer.
- Triterpenes: These are terpenes that contain six isoprene units and are found in plants such as ginseng, liquorice, and olives. Ursolic acid is a common triterpene found in apples, and it has been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic properties.
- Tetraterpenes: These contain eight isoprene units and are found in plants such as carrots, tomatoes, and algae. Beta-carotene is a common tetraterpene found in carrots, and it has been found to have antioxidant properties and may help reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
There are over 20,000 different terpenes found in nature, each with its own distinct qualities and benefits. Some of the most widely used terpenes include:
Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene is commonly found in black pepper and has a spicy aroma. It has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects and may aid in the relief of pain and inflammation.
Myrcene: This terpene is commonly found in mangoes and has a musky, earthy aroma. It has calming and relaxing qualities and may help reduce pain and inflammation symptoms.
Pinene: A terpene found in pine trees that provides a piney, woody scent. It possesses anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator effects, which may assist in improving respiratory function.
Linalool: This terpene is commonly found in lavender and has a floral aroma. It has been found to have sedative and calming effects and may help reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Benefits of Terpenes
Terpenes have a number of benefits and uses, including:
Mood: The scent of the terpenes can affect our mood and emotions through the interaction with the limbic system in our brain. Terpenes such as limonene and linalool have been found to have mood-enhancing properties and may help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Health: Many terpenes have been found to have therapeutic properties and may aid in the relief of symptoms associated with a variety of health conditions, including pain and inflammation. They may also help improve respiratory function and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases.
Aromatherapy uses: Terpenes have been used for centuries in traditional medicine for their therapeutic properties. They are often used in aromatherapy to aid in stress relief and relaxation.
The Entourage Effect: Terpenes have a crucial role in the effects of cannabis by altering the impact of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. This phenomenon, known as the Entourage Effect, produces various experiences and outcomes based on the presence of certain terpenes. For instance, the terpenes in Deep Sleep oral drops promote relaxation, while those in Energy and Focus drops improve focus.
Flavour and Aroma: Terpenes are commonly used in the food and beverage industry to add flavour and aroma to products. Because of their aroma and antibacterial qualities, they are also widely used in cosmetics, fragrances, and cleaning products.
Terpenes are a fascinating and diverse class of organic compounds with numerous applications and benefits. From their health benefits to their use in enhancing the effects of other compounds, terpenes have a wide range of effects on different aspects of our lives. As the cannabis industry continues to grow, terpenes are becoming an increasingly important aspect of understanding the effects of cannabis and other plants. Understanding the different types of terpenes and their benefits can help us make informed decisions about how we use them in our daily lives.