When purchasing a cannabis product from a dispensary, the package is required by individual state laws to contain some very important information. Not only does the cannabis product packaging inform the user what the testing laboratory has discovered about the potency levels and cannabinoid profile, but it also includes specific percentages regarding the terpene profile. Names like caryophyllene, pinene, myrcene, limonene and linalool are some common terpenes seen on cannabis product packaging just to name a few. So, what are terpenes and what are their benefits?
What Are Terpenes?
As science and technology contribute to the ongoing research and discovery of medicinal properties found in the cannabis plant, the world is beginning to recognize that there is a lot more to marijuana than the stereotypical psychoactive effect it has on the user and the cannabinoid content. To get a hint of the other therapeutic compounds in any marijuana strain, just give it a sniff.
Terpenes are the fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity with distinctive scents like citrus, berry, mint and pine. In fact, terpenes are not only found in cannabis, but terpenes can also be found in many other herbs, fruits and plants. Leafly.com states that over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant and every cannabis strain offers a unique terpene type and composition.
Terpenes play a key role in differentiating the subtle effects that various cannabis strains have on the user. Some terpenes promote relaxation and stress-relief, while other terpenes enhance focus and alertness. Terpenes produce these various effects by binding to receptors in the brain, just like cannabinoids do within the human body.
Individual cannabis harvests may offer dramatically different terpene profiles due to variations in growing and curing techniques. There are numerous factors that impact a cannabis plant’s development of terpenes including climate, weather, age and maturation, fertilizers, soil type and even the time of day.
Most Common Cannabis Terpenes and Their Benefits
Although research is still very limited on the powerful healing benefits of terpenes on the human body, mind and spirit, there is always more to discover with the expansion of marijuana legalization.
Below are some of the most common cannabis terpenes found in a variety of indicas, sativas and hybrids currently sold in marijuana dispensaries. Leafly.com explains the differences of these common terpenes, their potential effects on the user and specific conditions treated by each terpene. Knowing more about the marijuana strain’s chemical expression, and how every individual reacts to that mix, helps you, the consumer.
The caryophyllene terpene is a powerful pain reliever and decreases inflammation in the colon and digestive tract. This terpene would be a great option for those that suffer from the numerous inflammatory diseases affecting the digestive tract such as colitis and Chron’s disease.
Aroma: Pepper, spicy, woody, cloves
Potential Effects: Stress relief
Treats: Pain, anxiety, depression, alcohol craving reduction and ulcers
Caryophyllens Also Found In: Black pepper, cloves, cinnamon
The pinene terpene is a natural bronchodilator, which helps improve airflow to the lungs and is best for those suffering from asthma. Pinene is an anti-inflammatory and local antiseptic that also aids in pain relief. Pinene has been used by cultures around the world for its healing properties for thousands of years. This terpene easily crosses the blood-brain barrier improving alertness and memory, even associated with memory loss from THC effects.
Potential Effects: Alertness, memory retention and counteracts some THC effects
Treats: Asthma, pain, inflammation, anxiety and cancer
Pinene Also Found In: Pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley and dill
The terpene myrcene is said by Leafly.com to be one of the most abundant terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Myrcene is known for its antioxidant, antibiotic, analgesic and anti-mutagenic properties. This abundant terpene determines whether a strain is an indica or sativa. According to Steep Hill Labs, if a cannabis plant has more than 0.5 percent myrcene, it will produce indica-like effects. If a cannabis plant contains less than 0.5 percent myrcene then it produces sativa-like effects.
Aroma: Cardamom, cloves, musky, earthy, herbal
Potential Effects: Sedating “couchlock” effect, relaxing
Treats: Insomnia, pain and inflammation
Myrcene Also Found In: Mango, lemongrass, thyme and hops
The terpene limonene is responsible for the uplifted feelings typically found in sativa-dominant strains. Limonene is known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, which helps stimulate the immune system and protects the GI tract. This terpene is a natural insecticide for the cannabis plant and can even assist in treating toenail fungus in humans. Limonene is also known for its stress-relieving and mood-enhancing effects.
Potential Effects: Elevated mood and stress relief
Treats: Anxiety, depression, inflammation, pain and cancer
Limonene Also Found In: Lemons, fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper and peppermint
The terpene linalool is prevalent in mostly indica-dominant strains. This terpene is known for its ability to reduce stress and is used to treat anxiety, depression and is a natural sedative. Linalool is also used to relieve seizure symptoms and provide relief to those suffering from psychosis.
Potential Effects: Mood enhancement and sedation
Treats: Anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, inflammation and neurodegenerative disease
Linalool Also Found In: Lavender
As more marijuana strains hit the market bred with custom terpene and cannabinoid profiles, individuals with a variety of health conditions are provided with enhanced treatment options, and in ways never seen or existing before. The severity and sensitivity of varying health conditions fluctuate among medical and recreational marijuana users making individual, customized treatment essential.
While growing conditions and plant genetics determine terpene quality and content, expert marijuana growers are adjusting grow techniques on their cannabis crops in order to help treat patients suffering from severe conditions as well as individuals with mild health conditions. This is a much faster, healthier, safer and more transparent process than waiting for a new pharmaceutical drug to hit the market.