What Are Cannabis Terpenes?
Cannabis terpenes are compounds that give each strain its distinct flavor and aroma. Whether you're a cannabis user, grower, or simply curious about terpenes, hopefully this article can provide a better understanding of the role of terpenes in the cannabis plant.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes (or "terps" for short), are a chemical compound found in cannabis plants. They're responsible for its distinctive flavor and aroma, and are produced by the same gland of the plant which produces cannabinoids. Terpenes are often described as aromatic oils, and they play a key role in the overall effects of cannabis when consumed.
Despite the 113 terpenes identified in cannabis plants, some botanists believe that there are many more terpenes that have yet to be discovered. In fact, it's estimated that there may be more than 20,000 different terpenes across all plant species.
Since terpenes are primarily produced within the plant's reproductive organs inside of the flowers, females generally have higher terpenes levels than their male counterparts. However, it's important to understand that the levels of terpenes in a given cannabis plant can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the specific strain of the plant, growing conditions, as well as the plant's age.
Terpenes Interact With Other Compounds
Terpenes often work synergistically with cannabinoids to produce the plant's unique effects when consumed. This synergy is one of the reasons why different cannabis strains can have different effects, even if they have similar levels of THC or CBD.
Cannabis breeders often try to manipulate the levels of terpenes and cannabinoids in their plants in order to achieve specific effects or to meet the demands of consumers.
What are Terpenes Responsible For?
In addition to their role in the flavor and effects of cannabis, terpenes also have a number of biological functions within the plant itself. Some terpenes act as repellents to protect the plant from herbivores or pests, while others play a role in the plant's immune system. Different terpenes can have differing effects on the human body, with some having relaxing properties and others promoting focus or alertness.
The Evolutionary Purpose
Despite the various benefits of terpenes for humans, one of the primary roles of terpenes in plants is to serve as a defense mechanism against herbivores and other predators. Many terpenes have a strong, pungent odor that can repel animals or insects, helping to protect the plant from being eaten. In addition, some terpenes can also attract pollinators, which is essential for the plant's reproduction.
Terpenes can also serve a number of other functions in plants, including protecting the plant from fungus and bacteria, and even helping shield the plant from the sun's harmful UV rays.
Overall, the evolutionary focus of terpenes in plants is to help the plant survive and reproduce in its environment, and these compounds have evolved over time to serve a variety of important functions.
Different Roles for Different Terpenes
Some terpenes have relaxing or sedative properties that help promote stress-relief and relaxation. Linalool, for example, is a terpene that's been shown to have sleep-inducing effects, and commonly used in sleep-aid products. Other terpenes, such as humulene, can have stimulating effects and improve focus and mental acuity. Humulene has also been shown to have appetite-suppressing effects, and is often used in weight-loss products.
The "Entourage" Effect
The "entourage effect" is a term used to describe the way that different compounds in cannabis can interact with each other to produce a synergistic effect. This means that the presence of one compound can enhance or modify the effects of another compound, resulting in a more potent or nuanced effect than either compound would produce on its own.
Terpenes are an important part of the entourage effect in cannabis, as they can interact with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to produce unique effects. For example, certain terpenes have been shown to increase the rate at which cannabinoids are absorbed into the bloodstream, which could potentially get you higher more quickly!
What Influences Terpene Development?
As mentioned previously, the total amount of terpenes produced by a cannabis plant can be influenced by a number of different factors, including the age and maturation of the plant, weather and climate conditions, the type of soil the plant is grown in, and the fertilizers used. Additionally, the levels of terpenes in a given plant can vary depending on the time of day, with some plants producing more terpenes at certain times than others.
What are the Common Types of Terpenes?
In this section, we'll take a closer look at some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis plants, and how they contribute to the unique characteristics of different strains such as why Mango Kush smells and tastes just like mangoes, Blueberry has a distinctive blueberry taste, and even why Sour Diesel smells just like diesel.
Alpha-bisabolol, also known as bisabolol or levomenol, is a terpene found in a number of plant species, including the candeia tree and the chamomile flower.
This terpene is most commonly used in cosmetics as a skin smoothening agent, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, alpha-bisabolol has been shown to have analgesic (pain-relieving) effects, and has been studied for its potential use in treating wounds and bacterial infections.
Alpha-pinene, also known as pinene, is a terpene that can be found in a number of plant species, including basil, rosemary, dill, parsley, and pine needles.
This terpene has a number of potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. In addition, alpha-pinene has been shown to counteract some of the effects of THC, and it may also promote memory retention and alertness.
What temperature does alpha-pinene vaporize at?
Alpha-pinene vaporizes at 311 degrees Fahrenheit (155 degrees Celsius).
Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene that can be found in a number of plant species, including black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. It has a spicy, woody aroma, and it is often used in the production of perfumes and flavorings.
In addition to its distinctive aroma, beta-caryophyllene has a number of potential health benefits. It has been shown to have stress-relieving effects, and it has been studied for its potential use in treating a variety of conditions, including depression, ulcers, anxiety, and pain.
Some experts believe that beta-caryophyllene is the only terpene that directly activates one of the cannabinoid receptors in the body, binding to the CB2 receptor, which is involved in regulating inflammation.
What temperature does beta-caryophyllene vaporize at?
Beta-caryophyllene vaporizes at 266 degrees Fahrenheit (130 degrees Celsius).
Borneol is a terpene that can be found in a number of plant species, including camphor, rosemary, and mint. It has a distinctive herbal, minty aroma, and it is commonly used in the production of perfumes and flavorings.
In addition to its distinctive scent, borneol has been shown to have insect-repellent properties, which can help prevent mosquito-borne diseases. Borneol is also commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is believed to have a variety of therapeutic effects, including anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
What temperature does borneol vaporize at?
Borneol vaporizes at 415 degrees Fahrenheit (213 degrees Celsius).
Camphene is a terpene with a damp woodlands, musky earth, and fir needles scent. It has potential as an antioxidant, particularly when combined with vitamin C, and it may assist in lowering triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood, potentially reducing cardiovascular risk.
Delta-3-carene is present in cedar, pine, bell peppers, basil, and rosemary. It has a sweet aroma similar to that of the cypress tree.
It is commonly used in perfumes and as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages. Some studies have suggested that delta-3-carene may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and it may be useful as a natural treatment for pain and inflammation.
Eucalyptol, also known as cineole, is (rather unsurprisingly) the primary terpene found in the eucalyptus tree. It's known for its camphor-like aroma and flavor, and commonly used in medicine and cosmetics for its potential health benefits.
Some studies have suggested that eucalyptol may have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial properties, and it may be useful in the treatment of pain and infections. There is also some early research indicating that eucalyptol may have potential as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, but more research is needed to confirm these potential benefits.
What temperature does eucalyptol vaporize at?
Eucalyptol vaporizes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
Humulene is also found in hops, cloves, basil, and coriander (cilantro). Similar to hops, its aroma is earthy and woody. Although it's only present in very low amounts within the cannabis plant, it's enough to help repel harmful pests and even prevent fungi from growing.
What temperature does humulene vaporize at?
Humulene vaporizes at 222 degrees Fahrenheit (106 degrees Celsius), and also contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Limonene is also present in juniper, peppermint, rosemary, and fruit rinds. It smells like citrus, hence the name. It can elevate the mood of the consumer and relieve stress. There are medical applications for it to potentially treat depression, anxiety, pain, inflammation, and even cancer. It is also commonly used for weight loss and is common in a range of flavorings, including bubblegum.
What temperature does limonene vaporize at?
Limonene vaporizes at 348 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees Celsius).
Linalool is also present in lavender and has a floral scent. It enhances your mood and can have sedative effects. It has potential for treating inflammation, neurodegeneration, depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia. There is also some evidence that linalool has anticonvulsant effects, helping those with seizures. Studies in mice showed that this terpene reduced seizure severity.
What temperature does linalool vaporize at?
Linalool vaporizes at 388 degrees Fahrenheit (198 degrees Celsius).
When most people think of a cannabis terpene, they imagine myrcene. This is the most common terpene in marijuana and the one responsible for the main fragrance associated with cannabis.
Myrcene is also present in thyme, hops, lemongrass, and mango, and has an herbal, earthy, musky, and spicy aroma. It produces relaxing or sedating effects and has medical potential as an antioxidant and for the treatment of inflammation, pain and insomnia.
What temperature does myrcene vaporize at?
Myrcene vaporizes at 332 degrees Fahrenheit (167 degrees Celsius).
Ocimene is a terpene that is present in mint, pepper, parsley, mangos, basil, kumquats, and orchids, and has a sweet, woody, or herbal aroma. Some studies have suggested that ocimene may have potential as an antiviral, antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antibacterial agent, and it may be useful as a decongestant.
What temperature does ocimene vaporize at?
Ocimene vaporizes at 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).
Terpinolene is also present in lilacs, cumin, apples, conifers, tea tree, and nutmeg. It smells herbal, piney, and floral. Its potential medical value includes sedative, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties.
What temperature does terpinolene vaporize at?
Terpinolene vaporizes at 366 degrees Fahrenheit (186 degrees Celsius).
Trans-nerolidol is a secondary terpene that is common in tea tree oil, lemongrass, and jasmine, and it has a floral, woody, and citrus aroma.
Some studies have suggested that trans-nerolidol may have potential as an anticancer, antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, and antiparasitic agent.
You will notice that most of the above terpenes have distinct vaporization points. The ideal vaporization temperature for each terpene can vary, and it is important to vaporize terpenes at the correct temperature in order to preserve their unique aromas and potential health benefits. Carbonization, which is the process of burning a substance at high temperatures, can destroy many terpenes, as well as cannabinoids. Using a portable vaporizer with temperature control can help ensure that terpenes are vaporized at the optimal temperature, allowing users to get the most from their vaporization experience.
Are Terpenes Legal?
It is generally correct to say that terpenes are not illegal, as they are found in a wide range of plants, including cannabis, lavender, hops, and pine. However, it's important to keep in mind that the legal status of terpenes can vary depending on where you live, and is always important to check your local laws and regulations before using terpenes.
The FDA Says Terpenes Are Safe
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers terpenes to be safe for consumption. However, the FDA has not approved any terpenes, or any other natural or synthetic compounds, as safe and effective treatments for any medical condition.
Why Terpenes Aren't Illegal
The government is not going to ban peppermint by making limonene illegal just because it's also found in some cannabis strains. Therefore, due to the large overlap between terpenes in cannabis and other plants (flowers, citrus fruits, juniper trees, etc.), it would be impossible to completely ban terpenes even if a government attempted to.
How Terpenes Affect Your Choice of Strain
The terpene profile of a cannabis strain can provide important information about the aroma, flavor, and potential effects of the strain, and it can help users choose a strain best suited to their desired preferences and needs.
The scent of a cannabis strain, which is largely determined by its terpene profile, can be an important factor to consider when choosing a strain. Many people enjoy the unique aromas of different cannabis strains, and carefully choosing a strain based on its terpene profile can help ensure that you have a positive experience while using your chosen product. Additionally, a strain's aroma can provide important information about its potential effects, and it can help you choose a strain that is best suited to your preferences and needs.
The major reason to consider terpenes when choosing your cannabis is that they all have different effects. As mentioned, some terpenes will help you focus while others will help you relax. Some may help you fall asleep while others will help you stay energetic. This means that you can ensure you get what you want out of your cannabis by choosing one with the appropriate terpenes. If, for example, you want to boost your mood, you'll want to pick a strain with a high limonene terpene profile. For pain relief, you should look for beta-caryophyllene.
Terpenes are compounds found in the cannabis plant that give it its distinctive aroma and flavor, and there are over 100 different cannabis terpenes. Each cannabis strain has its own unique terpene profile, and different terpenes can produce various additional benefits, such as relaxation, memory retention, or pain relief. Terpenes can also interact with cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, to increase their effectiveness. Additionally, many of the same terpenes found in cannabis plants are also prevalent in other plants, making them perfectly legal and safe to consume.