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Cannabis
July 9, 2021

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are exceptionally aromatic compounds that generate the distinct smell of many plants or herbs, such as lavender, pine, and rosemary. A combination of terpenes is responsible for the unique fragrance or scent of most plants. Cannabis incorporates highly concentrated amounts of terpenes; that is why many people associate marijuana with the compound.  


Let us dive deeper into the uses, variations, and effects of terpenes in this article.

Uses of Terpenes

For Plants     

Naturally, terpenes draw pollinators to some plants while they secure other plants by supporting their immune system from contagious germs, promoting recovery from damage, and repelling foraging animals, insects, and other predators by causing a strong reaction.

For Products 

Some manufacturers also isolate them to develop aromas and flavors of various goods that people use every day, such as soaps, cleaning supplies, body products, essential oils, perfumes, and even food.

Difference Between Terpenes & Cannabinoids and Terpenes & Terpenoids

Terpenes & Cannabinoids 

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds, while terpenes are aromatic compounds in cannabis. 


To further explain the difference, let us briefly explain two examples of cannabinoids. One, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is responsible for receptor activation in the endocannabinoid system to make people feel high. Two, Cannabidiol (CBD), which also triggers the same receptors as THC, is known for its medicinal properties. It doesn't cause euphoria. 


Terpenes produce the smell of cannabis. But they may also provoke the body's endocannabinoid system similar to the way cannabinoids do. 


Essentially, the body absorbs and handles these two compounds in varying ways.

Terpenes & Terpenoids

The terms terpenes and terpenoids are interchangeable. On one hand, terpenes refer to the compounds' inherent form when they are in living plants. On the other hand, terpenoids refer to the oxidized versions of the compounds from dead or cured plants.

5 Famous Terpenes and Their Effects on the Human Body

In cannabis, they may not make you feel high the way THC does, but they may influence a person's level of sleepiness or energy. The entourage effect proposes that other compounds in cannabis synergize with THC and CBD to enhance, alter, and balance the overall psychoactive impact of the plant. 


Here are five out of hundreds of various terpenes in the natural world, including their aromas and other properties.

  1. Limonene

Limonene is commonly responsible for the citrus fragrance in cannabis, citrus fruits, perfumes, and cleaning supplies. Studies propose that it includes therapeutic properties: antidiabetic, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral. Limonene's way to modulate resembles how some immune cells function and protect the body against multiple disorders. Limonene is also safe to be taken as a supplement. 

  1. Pinene

Pinene is responsible for the fresh, piney scent of plants, such as cannabis, pine needles and other conifers, basil, and rosemary. It has two forms: a-pinene and b-pinene. Studies show that pinene also offers some therapeutic benefits and that just the smell of it in the air of a healthy forest is therapeutic enough. Moreover, it also serves as a bronchodilator that enhances airflow into the lungs and an anti-inflammatory agent that resists infectious germs upon inhalation and promotes ulcer prevention.

  1. Linalool

Linalool radiates the rich floral aroma abundant in lavender plants, but it is also found in cannabis, rose, jasmine, coriander, rosewood, and bergamot. It also frequently applies to perfumes and soaps. Linalool is an imperative component of aromatherapy due to its calming influence. Further research is necessary to understand linalool's benefits, but studies suggest that it has various effects: antifungal, antimicrobial, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anticancer, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and sedative.

  1. Myrcene

Myrcene grants the signature earthy scent common in cannabis plants, lemongrass, thyme, and hops. Studies that used highly concentrated amounts of myrcene weighing up to 200 milligrams per kilogram suggest that it possesses the following effects: antioxidant, protective of heart tissues, anti-inflammatory, pain alleviation, and breakdown prevention of some cartilage cells.

  1. Beta-caryophyllene

 Beta-caryophyllene emits the herbal aroma in herbs, vegetables, and plants, such as cannabis, rosemary, cloves, black pepper, and hops. Animal testing results showed that it offers inflammation reduction and pain relief. In one of the studies on animals, the researchers indicated that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of beta-caryophyllene could be suitable for long-term treatment due to the fact that the body didn't show signs of developing resistance to these effects. 


Extensive studies by the Food and Drug Administration regard terpenes as naturally safe or non-toxic. Moreover, many of these aromatic compounds are bioactive, meaning they may trigger different reactions in the human body, depending on their concentration and how they are used. The strong smells produced by terpenes make them suitable for essential oils and aromatherapy or other alternative therapies as research suggests that inhaling them could adjust moods and stress levels. Scientists are looking deeper into the benefits of the effects of terpenes, especially in relation to marijuana. 


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