By definition, terpenes are a class of organic, hydrocarbon compounds that are naturally produced by a variety of plants and are also made by some insects. Terpenes are found in the essential oils of plants, and provide aroma and flavor. In cannabis plants specifically, terpenes are found in the flower or bud, and are believed to help increase the healing properties of the plant. This is similar to how lavender essential oils are utilized to help a person relax whereas peppermint oil is praised for its ability to serve as a natural pain reliever.
As reported, there are over 200 kinds of terpenes that have been identified in the cannabis plant to date, with each boasting its own unique profile. Terpenes work together synergistically with cannabinoids, playing a role in what is known as the entourage effect, which helps maximize the therapeutic nature of CBD and THC. Given that terpenes are known to enhance the experience of consuming cannabinoids, many consumers gravitate towards purchasing CBD products that are made with oil derived from the vast majority of the compounds found in the plant, also known as full-spectrum or whole-plant.
Although terpenes are created naturally by plants for reasons that include warding off predators or luring pollinators, a variety of elements can impact their profiles. For example, cannabis plants grown indoors have different terpene profiles than those grown outdoors. This is because temperature, nutrients, sunlight and other factors play a role in shaping the profile of the terpenes found in the plant.
Of the ample terpenes found in the plant, there are a handful that have emerged to the forefront, both due to abundance and standout attributes. Let's take a look at some of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant.
Myrcene is the most commonly found terpene in the cannabis plant, as well as other plants and herbs such as hops, clover, sage, thyme and lemongrass. It is also found in mangoes. Myrcene reportedly has been shown to make up over 65% of the terpene profile of some cannabis strains, playing a direct role in determining whether a particular cannabis strain is indica or sativa. It has been known for having a musky, fruity aroma, and reported to aid in pain relief and combating inflammation.
Limonene is another common terpene found in cannabis. As the name suggests, limonene is also found in nearly all citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, oranges and juniper. It is responsible for the strong lemon-lime smell and flavor, and plays a role in helping improve mood, reduce anxiety and act as an anti-inflammatory agent. It has also been found to be effective in fighting against certain fungi and bacteria.
This terpene is characterized by its spicy, woody scent. It is found in black pepper, cloves, hops and cinnamon in addition to cannabis, and is known for aiding in treating anxiety and depression. It is also known for relieving pain and its anti-inflammatory properties.
Linanol is a combination of licareol and coriandrol, and is known for providing a strong fragrance. It is used both in perfumes and in products intended to repel insects. Medicinally, it has shown the ability to aid with anxiety relief and is a natural antidepressant. It is also found in lavender.
As the name indicates, pinene is commonly found in pine trees. This terpene comes in two varieties, alpha (which smells like pine needles) and beta (which smells like rosemary, basil, dill or parsley). It is also found in conifer trees, citrus peels and turpentine. Pinene helps improve airflow to the lungs, and is a known anti-inflammatory and local antiseptic.
Humulene, which is also found in hops, cloves and basil, is known for helping decrease appetite. It has shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is also antibacterial and a natural pain reliever. Its strong aroma skews on the earthy, woody side, and is responsible for the "hoppy" taste of certain beers.
Known for its mildly floral scent, bisabolol is commonly used in fragrances and cosmetics. It is also known for helping rejuvenate and heal the skin, plus aid in reducing skin inflammation.
Eucalyptol is a terpene whose name comes from eucalyptus, where it can be obtained in addition to the cannabis plant, alongside wormwood or rosemary oil. It is characterized by its minty fragrance, commonly used in cosmetics.