Modified on: 27/04/2022
What are cannabis terpenes, where are they found, and what are their properties?
During your search for the best cannabis seeds, have you heard of terpenes essential for defining the hemp plant’s aromatic profile?
You probably want to know more about them, as it is not easy to find data on terpenes to better understand what they are and what they are used for.
Today, we have decided to devote ourselves to this subject so that you can resolve all your doubts on it. At the end of the article, you will know everything, absolutely everything, about these particular cannabis compounds.
Cannabis terpenes: what are they, and why are they important?
The cannabis plant’s terpenes are biomolecules that determine the aroma of the marijuana flowers, hence the taste and aroma. You should know, however, that they are not only found in hemp.
They are compounds found in many plants, present in large quantities in aromatic shrubs, and fruit trees. These compounds also give particular aroma to wines (the terpenes in wine are the key to the fragrant bouquet) and many animals.
But why are the hemp’s one so famous, probably the best known?
The reason is simple: these aromatic molecules combine and make the aroma of each variety of cannabis unique.
Each cannabis variety has a unique aroma, given precisely by the so-called terpene profile. More than 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis (e.g. limonene, myrcene, pinene and many others); each strain has a unique combination of terpenes and tends more towards a particular aroma.
It means that the plant born from Gorilla Glue marijuana seeds does not have the same aroma as the Orange Blossom one. Still, the aroma of a variety called “Cheese” will undoubtedly be reminiscent of cheese, although the different types with the name “Cheese” have different nuances.
As you can imagine, terpenes were not born to satisfy our sense of smell and taste. So let’s see what their real function is.
What are the terpenes in cannabis plants used for?
In nature, terpenes have a defence function against predators and an attraction function for pollinators (or, in the case of animals, for individuals of the opposite sex). The aroma they produce is usually so strong and intense: they are not toxic, but they ward off parasites and other animals that could damage the plant.
Wonder where they are? As for hemp, they are mainly found in the flowers since the terpenes of cannabis are secreted by trichomes (the cannabinoid-producing glands that are located directly on the inflorescences).
Therefore, although terpenes play a fundamental role in differentiating the aromas and flavours of different cannabis varieties, their natural function is adaptive. Thanks to these biomolecules, cannabis protects itself and reproduces itself in the best possible way.
Numerous studies we reviewed here at SensorySeeds have suggested that terpenes may also play a key role in the effects of different types of marijuana. For example, some terpenes may help with muscle relaxation and stress relief, while others may help with concentration.
Yes: the aromatic bouquet could significantly influence the effects of different types of cannabis. As is the case with essential oils (whose aroma, unsurprisingly, depends on terpenes), cannabis flowers also relax, activate or promote mental concentration depending on the types of terpenes they contain.
The primary terpenes in cannabis (and their properties)
It seems that the effects of cannabis can vary according to the combination of terpenes and cannabinoids due to a phenomenon called the entourage effect. Dr Ethan B. Russo first discussed the Taming THC study: potential synergy of cannabis and the phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.
The effects of a specific cannabis terpene can therefore vary (generally increase or decrease) in the presence of other terpenes and cannabinoids in different quantities.
In the following list, you will find the primary cannabis terpenes and the related sensations, but remember that these sensations may vary due to the entourage effect. Here are the most common terpenes of the cannabis plant :
- Limonene: a terpene typical of citrus cannabis varieties, such as Lemon Blossom, is considered to be antibacterial, antifungal and appears to alleviate the symptoms of depression. It penetrates cell membranes extremely quickly and promotes the absorption of other terpenes. Its intake can also lead to an increase in blood pressure.
- Myrcene: found in many cannabis varieties and gives the flowers a spicy scent. Its main effects include antimicrobial, antiseptic, antioxidant, relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects. Its presence promotes the absorption of THC and CBD.
- Linalol: gives cannabis plants a floral scent and appears to have sedative properties. Its contribution could calm anxiety states.
- Pinene: this terpene gives cannabis notes of pine and rosemary. It seems that its contribution can increase concentration and energy. It can also inhibit the action of THC, notably by avoiding the adverse effects of tetrahydrocannabinol on memory.
You now know what cannabis terpenes are, what functions they have and what effects they seem to have on our bodies.