I have thrown a lot of words at you, and a lot of information now about myself and about cannabis and I keep repeating one word, here and on the rest of my social media, TERPENE! That’s because as more research is performed throughout the world the more we come to know and the latest research keeps pointing to the hydrocarbons known as terpenes. Terpenes are the aromatic oils produced along with CBD, THC and other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. These affect both taste and smell and have their own medicinal properties. Over the past few years the number of known terpenes has exploded to over 200 with more being discovered as the exploration into the plant continues. In the simplest of terms, the reason walking through a pine forest is relaxing, or why sniffing lavender will calm you, or why clary sage can clear the mind, are terpenes, and in nature they are often what give a plant it’s natural defenses. Ever use Neem oil to keep away pests, or Neroli? How about Turpentine to strip floors? Or pine as a cleaner? These are all terpenes, and when it comes to marijuana, each and every strain has a specific and unique terpene profile, with it’s own medicinal properties. I will go into 10 primary ones as well as a several secondary ones I think are important. You will find other lists around, especially recently, but most of them only cover a few. With my numerous health issues that require me to be careful with my consumption I have had to learn what terpenes and terpene combinations set me off, so I once again encourage you to do your own research and find what works for you!
Ten Primary Terpenes
- Limonene – Citrus smell – Known to be an anti-fungal, antidepressant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, it aids in digestion, improves mental sharpness, decreases gallstone production, increases sex drive, helps boost the immune system and helps improve the mood. On a negative side note, especially for those with high blood pressure, it is known to raise systolic blood pressure, at least for the short term, so be aware.
Some strains known to be high in Limonene are Lemon Diesel, OG Kush and Sour Diesel.
- Myrcene – Clove, earthy, tropical aroma. It is the most common terpene and it’s concentration determines if a plant is Sativa or Indica. If it is over .05% then it will be more sedating, and if it is under, it will be more energizing. It is also important to note that Myrcene can increase the effects of the THC in your cannabis, so be wary if you are prone to paranoia or anxiety. Known to be anti-carcinogenic, used for pain relief, anti-diabetic, anti-insomniac (in high concentrations), antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, anti-psychotic, antiseptic, and it has been found to inhibit cell mutation. Can be found in Skunk #1, El Nino, White Widow, Pure Kush, Himalayan Gold and others.
- Linalool – Citrus, floral, sweet, lavender – It is known to help people with psychosis and has tranquilizing effects. It is used as an anti-psychotic, an anti-anxiety medication, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, as a sedative and has known to help relieve the pain from burns and heals them faster. Can be found in high amounts in G13, Lavender, LA Confidential and GrandDaddy Purple.
- Caryophyllene – Spicy, black pepper – It activates the CB2 receptors even though it is not a cannabinoid. So it is crucial in fighting pain, autoimmune disorders, in addiction therapy, diabetes and relief of IBS. It is also an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory and it helps chemotherapy drugs work better allowing for less treatments. This is one terpene that a lot of time and money is being spent on right now because it has so many incredible medical applications. And yet people who consume cannabis on a daily basis are benefiting every time! Found in the Hash plant variities and in Green Lantern.
- alpha-Bisabolol – floral – Found in Chamomile as well. It is bacteria fighting, wound healing and is also an anti-inflammatory. It is found in Oracle and other strains, but is one to look for in your medication.
- Borneol – camphor and mint aroma – It has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as an analgesic, antiseptic; to relieve fatigue and stress; to aid in sleep and as a bronchodilator. One of the terpenes those with lung issues should be seeking out, in my humble opinion, as well as anyone with a cold or sinus congestion. Strains high in Borneol include K13, Silver Haze and others.
- Delta-3-Carene – earthy and pine aroma – Over 80 strains of cannabis have been identified that contain this terpene, making it one of the more prevalent ones. It is an anti-inflammatory, diuretic; has been found to repair bones, help with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis, bursitis, and systemic inflammatory conditions like Lupus, MCTD, Scleroderma and others.
- Eucalyptol – smells like Eucalyptus – It is known to be beneficial in the treatment of colorectal cancers, leukemia and well as being an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and it helps increase mental acuity. One of my favorite strains is high in this, Super Silver Haze.
- Nerolidol – woodsy, fresh bark – Used in a lot of topicals for it’s ability to penetrate the skin. It is useful in preventing and treating malaria, as well as many fungi, and it can be also used to aid in sleep. Many strains are high in this terpene, just check your profiles!
- Pinene – a & b – pine and fir – It is an expectorant, it can be used as a local antiseptic, it is a bronchodilator and it has been found that pinene can actually lessen the effects of THC in a strain, making it helpful in the really high THC strains. alpha-Pinene has been found to have cancer fighting ability as well.
I know this is a lot of information to take in, and a lot of you are trying to figure out what this means to you, and here is the truth, it means nothing unless you need or want it to. In my life, understanding terpenes, and how they function with my THC and my body was very important, because going back to pills is NOT an option for me. I will not live that life again. I want to get as many of the health benefits from my cannabis as possible, and I want to be able to avoid any possible pitfalls along the way, education is the safety net here. Educate yourself, arm yourself with your knowledge. Remove the stigma so many have and show them the truth, show them the science and heal yourself and maybe, some other people along the way!
Stay tuned for part two!
Photo credit C. Jesse Lovelady