When people think of what’s in a cannabis plant, cannabinoids like CBD and THC typically get all of the attention. As research continues, scientists are also finding more good things about minor cannabinoids. But cannabinoids aren’t the only beneficial compounds in cannabis. The plant’s natural terpenes also provide benefits of their own.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are the compounds in the cannabis plant responsible for each strain’s flavor and aroma. Cannabis has more than 100 terpenes, and each strain has varying levels of different ones.
All plants have terpenes, and there are more than 20,000 different ones across the various species. In the wild, they help to ward off predators or attract pollinators.
Natural Terpenes vs. Synthetic Terpenes
Natural terpenes are plant-derived compounds. When you see this term in product labels, it means that the terpenes come directly from the cannabis plant.
Synthetic or artificial terpenes are lab-created compounds. They simulate the aroma, flavor, and effects of their natural counterparts. There isn’t a whole lot of current research on the effects of synthetic terpenes, but some believe that they aren’t the safest option. Additionally, you may not be able to reap the benefits of the entourage effect with artificial alternatives.
Common Terpenes in Cannabis
As mentioned above, there are more than 100 terpenes in a cannabis plant. While different strains have varying amounts of each one, some occur more often and in larger concentrations than others. Below are some of the most common terpenes you can find in cannabis.
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis, and it’s also found in thyme and parsley. The terpene features a spicy, peppery, herbal aroma — and has a calming, relaxing effect.
Humulene has notes of wood, earth, and spice. You may recognize the scent if you drink beer, as it’s the same terpene found in hops. The terpene has antibacterial properties and may help to inhibit cancer growth. It also plays a role in appetite regulation.
Linalool is the terpene that produces the recognizable cannabis smell. It’s also found in lavender. Along with calming and relaxing properties, Linalool may also help to combat anxiety and depression. It can work to improve your mood.
Limonene has a distinct citrus aroma — as it also exists in lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits. It can help to alleviate anxiety and boost your mood.
Pinene is the same terpene found in pine trees. It gives plants that signature pine needle scent. As one of the earth’s most common terpenes, it also occurs in rosemary and basil. You can even find it in orange peels. Along with increasing mental alertness and energy, this terpene can help with respiratory complications such as asthma.
How Do Terpenes Add to Your Cannabis Experience?
The entourage effect is typically explained as different cannabinoids working together to enhance your overall experience. But natural terpenes also play a role in the entourage effect. They can add sedative, energizing, or mood-boosting effects to your experience.
Cannabinoids may receive most of the attention when it comes to cannabis, but terpenes deserve a lot of credit, too. They also have healing properties and can enhance the benefits of the various cannabinoids in the plant. Natural terpenes help to provide you with a complete, well-rounded experience.