Updated: Dec 21, 2022
What we smell effects what we think and how we feel. Terpenes are found in almost all vegetation and cannabis is no exception. Let's learn how these different terpenes affect us.
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Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants, particularly conifers, and by some insects. In general however, they are what makes something smell the way it does. In addition, they produce physiological effects on us that work synergistically with cannabinoids. There are 6 primary terpenes we find in cannabis so let's look at the basics of each. This should help us to better understand how they can work together to give you the desired effect you are needing.
Remember, its not all about THC and CBD. There are over 113 cannabinoids and over 200 different terpenes ALL working TOGETHER to help.
This is the most abundant terpene found in nature. Think about the last time you walked through a forest of pine trees or drove through a state park where pine trees were abundant. Can you smell it? Our brains have an amazing ability to file those memories for us so that just the recall of an event or place can bring those smells back to us.
The aroma of pinene can be found in cedarwood, rosemary, sage, and of course all types of pines. It creates the effects of enhanced cognition, uplifting feelings and is energizing. Its benefits include anti-inflammation, bronchodilation, and memory retention (I'm sure there are more, but these are basics).
Is the second most abundant terpene found in nature. Have you ever smelled a lemon? Better yet, bit into one. It's not something you soon forget, especially the pucker. Think about when you have finished cleaning a house, the clean refreshing smell. What was used to clean likely had lemon in it or maybe lime or grapefruit or orange. All of these share similar forms of limonene terpene in them. They create an effect that is uplifting, euphoric, energizing and awakening. Maybe that's why orange juice taste so good in the morning. The benefits also include antibacterial and anti-fungal as well as anti carcinogen. I'm not talking about a chemically produced product-we are talking natural from actual plants here or essential oils.
Next up is one of my favorites because it reminds me of bedtime rituals with my kids. A warm lavender filled bubble bath. Makes sense given lavender, mint, laurels, and lilies all share this terpene. It helps with relaxation, calming and can even be sedating. Given that, its benefits include anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), analgesic, and anticonvulsant. So the next time you are feeling extra stressed, a good inhale of lavender or lilies might just do the trick.
Myrcene is a bit different. It is one of the most abundant terpenes found throughout all cannabis plants (regardless of their species). It is also found in hops, mint, cloves and lemongrass. Personally, when I think of lemongrass, I think of summertime and mosquito's (which I hate and which love me), so even if I'm not fond of the smell, I keep it around to help ward those nasty pest off. Hops, mint, and cloves though are
great in certain evening beverages, which makes sense given the effects of myrcene include sedative, calming and relaxing. Benefits include muscle relaxation, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and a sleep aid...again, perfect for an evening.
Here is where we get a little cannabis techy. The plants this terpene are found in include tea tree, lilacs, apples, pine and even some apples. In these plants, we see sedative, calming, relaxing effects. However, when it is in cannabis, the effects generally are stimulating - so don't get confused. This is not a terpene you want to consume in the evening before bed. However, in cannabis it also benefits something called apoptosis (the death of cells which occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism's growth or development) which is why medical marijuana patients use it when cancer is present.
Rounding out our 6 primary terpenes is this gem that some call simply caryophyllene. Regardless, it is the ONLY terpene to activate CB receptors of our endocannabinoid system (ECS) making it the most important of all (if you ask me) regardless of the not so gentle aroma. I think of it like a medicine I don't like taking, it helps my body so I choose to suck it up and take it. We find this terpene in things like black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and oregano - now do you get why I'm not the biggest fan? However, it provides for relaxation and enhanced cognition and serves as an anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, analgesic, and has anti-microbial benefits.