Mother Nature has been known to play games with our senses from time to time, but have you ever wondered what gives each plant its individual and distinctive taste and smell?
The aromatic sensations we encounter every day are as a result of natural compounds found within all plants called terpenes. These guys have made quite a name for themselves within the cannabis community recently and we’re here to explain why. But first, let’s identify how terpenes work and why they are more important than we realise in full spectrum CBD products.
Terpenes are just like cannabinoids in that they are also produced within the sticky glands of the cannabis plant called trichomes. As well as being responsible for the overall fragrance of cannabis strains, terpenes hold a whole host of physical and mental benefits to the human body.
Research has found that terpenes can enhance CBD’s interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) by something called the entourage effect. This is a synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes which, in varying combinations, can maximise the benefits of taking either one in isolation. Quite simply, the whole effect is a lot greater than the sum of its parts. In understanding each terpene’s benefit to the body, you can identify which concentration will be most beneficial to you and your individual ECS.
First up the most abundant terpene in cannabis, Myrcene. This versatile compound has great synergistic qualities given its unique ability to make cell membranes more permeable, allowing cannabinoids to enter the brain faster. It is earthy in scent and is found in the essential oils of bay leaves, thyme and mango. Its natural sedative effects make it an ideal muscle relaxant and sleep aid too, meaning less counting sheep and more quality rest time.
Another terpene with an earthy undertone is Pinene. This welcoming and nostalgic smell is present in plants like pine, rosemary, basil and dill. Like many terpenes, Pinene is rich in anti-inflammatory qualities and even has the ability to help respiratory conditions like asthma, as it works to increase airflow to the lungs. This terpene is also known to promote alertness and memory retention, which helps busy beings like you feel more energised and focused.
Nothing beats the smell of fresh linen and for that we can thank Linalool. Linalool is commonly found in the sweet-smelling lavender plant and is often used within hygiene and cleaning products. Even thinking about the smell of lavender may make you feel calm, so it’s no surprise learning that Linalool can relieve anxiety and stress levels. There is even more ground-breaking room for this terpene, with recent research suggesting it can reverse some of the cognitive impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Another terpene with anxiety-reducing qualities is the fruity Limonene. More than just a common plant oil in citrus fruits, cleaning products and chewing gum, this terpene has been found to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in areas of the brain that are associated with anxiety, depression and OCD. It is clear that the second most abundant terpene in cannabis is likely to be contributing to its well-known stress-relieving capabilities.
While reading about terpenes in cannabis, you may be pondering on the extremely recognisable scent of the plant. This is humulene: a terpene on the woody and spicy side of things that is also found in hoppy beers, basil and black pepper. Humulene is anti-bacterial, can aid weight regulation by suppressing appetite and even holds anti-tumor effects. It has been used against inflammation in Chinese medicine for generations, particularly when it is blended with the final terpene of our series…
Last but not least is probably the most powerful terpene of them all, Caryophyllene. This terpene is rare due to the cyclobutene ring which surrounds it – something that is not often found in nature, let alone terpenes. Due to this unique structure it can actually bind to the receptor, CB2, which allows it to mimic the role of a cannabinoid. When CB2 is activated it benefits the overall health of cells within our organs and tissues – demonstrating Caryophyllene’s ability to reduce inflammation and encourage immune responses. For high abundance of this terpene you can look again towards black pepper, cloves, oregano and of course, cannabis.
What’s interesting is that despite aromatherapy and herbal remedies being around for centuries, the supporting research behind terpenes and cannabis is only just getting started.
In the meantime, we hope you’re intrigued to discover for yourself the benefits of the six terpenes mentioned above. Let’s see how the cannabis entourage effect can affect you for the better in your journey through wellness and commitment to a healthier lifestyle.