Ahh terpenes! The aromatic molecules responsible for giving flowers their sweet scent and cannabis it’s skunky fragrance. Today we’re going to pay tribute to these enticing compounds by listing some of our favorite terpenes and doing a deep dive into their unique smells and medicinal benefits.
What are Terpenes?
Before we jump in, let’s do a quick recap on what exactly terpenes are. All plants produce aromatic molecules called terpenes, some of which are intended to attract pollinators, others to ward off predators. It turns out, these magical little fragrant molecules are more than just a strong-smelling evolutionary quirk. According to research, terpenes can actually physically affect the human body.
For one, without terpenes, there would be no aromatherapy. That’s right; all the relaxing effects of bath bombs, scented candles, and essential oils can be attributed to terpenes. But terpenes are much more than just good smells.
Many terpenes contain antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, and many others can function as powerful antioxidants. Certain terpenes have even been shown to help reduce inflammation, and the common terpene limonene may be able to help inhibit the growth of tumors.
In cannabis, when terpenes work together with cannabinoids, they can create something known as the entourage effect, which boosts both compounds’ effectiveness. That’s why, whenever possible, you should elect to choose a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD product that contains all the cannabis plant’s natural terpenes and cannabinoids like E1011 Lab’s stelo™.
Now that we’ve refreshed your memory let’s get into our list of terpenes!
Limonene is one of the most common terpenes found on the planet, but it’s also one of the most exciting! In the natural world, you can find this bitter-tasting terpene in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. Limonene also shows up in many artificial scents, like citrus-flavored cleaning products, and in high-dollar perfumes.
Therapeutically, limonene has a ton of benefits. As we mentioned earlier, it exhibits cancer-fighting characteristics. Limonene is also great at permeating proteins, which makes it incredibly effective at treating common toe-funguses. Ever get gastro-reflux? Limonene can help relieve that as well.
As you might have been able to guess from the name, pinene is a terpene that’s found in pine needles. If you imagine walking through a lush northwest forest, the sharp piney aroma of pinene immediately comes to mind. It can function as an anti-inflammatory and may be effective at reducing asthma symptoms. Pinene may also go by the names B-pinene or beta-pinene.
When it comes to cannabis, you can find pinene in uplifting and energizing strains like Blue Dream and Trainwreck.
This relaxing terpene is responsible for the floral scent of lavender. For thousands of years, linalool has been used as a sleep aid, and now some clinical trials have shown that this terpene can be as effective at managing anxiety as some prescription pharmaceuticals.
Linalool also has analgesic properties that can help with mitigating chronic pain. When combined with other pain-relieving cannabinoids, like CBD, these pain suppressing characteristics can be made even more effective.
How about a nice relaxing cup of chamomile tea? The terpene Bisabolol is what puts the “calm” in chamomile.
This floral molecule can be a great sleep aid, and may also have cancer fighting characteristics and antibiotic properties.
Myrcene is an incredibly important terpene found in bay leaves, mangos, and lemongrass, capable of producing sedative-like effects. When large quantities of myrcene are present in cannabis, it can result in the all too common feeling of “couch lock.” In fact, the presence of more than .5% myrcene may actually be what separates sleepy indica strains from more energetic sativas.
Spicy caryophyllene is a terpene that you’ve likely smelled during dinnertime as it’s found in household black pepper. Like a few other terps we mentioned, caryophyllene is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.
Fun fact: when drug-sniffing canines are trained to sniff out marijuana, they are actually taught using a derivative of caryophyllene.
Are you a craft beer fanatic who enjoys the rich bitter aroma of an India Pale Ale? If so, then you’re already familiar with humulene – a terpene found in hops.
Humulene possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial in pain management and can function as an appetite suppressant.
Terpinolene is a terpene in the same family of pinene with a complex aroma. Give it a whiff, and you’ll find smoky notes of woody herbs and the occasional hint of citrus.
The therapeutic benefits of terpinolene include: anti-insomnia, antibacterial, and it’s a powerful antioxidant.
Harness the Power of Terpenes
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