“Terpenes” and “terps” — two names for the same thing. If you’ve ever witnessed and/or had a conversation with a cannabis enthusiast, we can guarantee you’ll hear the word “terp” or “terpene” at least once. Terpenes (pronounced tur-peens) can be defined as: any of numerous hydrocarbons found especially in essential oils, resins, and balsams. Basically, this is just a fancy way of describing a “diverse class of organic compounds” produced by plants.
Yes, we did say plants because cannabis isn’t the only plant to produce terpenes.
Terpenes are produced within the same cells/trichomes (to be discussed at a later time) that produce the cannabinoids you’re familiar with, such as CBD and THC. These compounds have a distinctive flavor and aroma such as citrus, berry, pine, etc. Cannabis terpenes, however, are much more than just flavor and aroma.
Purpose of Terpenes
Have you ever handled high-quality marijuana or hemp? If so, you’ll likely notice a sticky substance on your fingers while handling the flower. That sticky resin is the result of you coming in contact with terpenes on the plant; some of those compounds were transferred to your skin.
Terpenes might actually be the most interesting cannabis constituent of them all. While cannabis users can appreciate terpenes for their flavor while smoking or ingesting, the science behind why these compounds exist and what they can do for an individual is much more fascinating.
Like many other plants, vulnerability is a huge deal in the wild. Terpenes are actually produced by the cannabis plant as a deterrent to ward off herbivores and attractant of pollinators and herbivore predators so that the cannabis plant has a greater chance of survival. Whether it be “hemp” or “marijuana” (we will be discussing the difference between ‘hemp’ and ‘marijuana’ at another time), both types of cannabis produce terpenes.
While there are at least 100 different identified terpenes found within the cannabis plant, some common terpenes are beta-caryophyllene, limonene, linalool, myrcene, and pinene. While we will discuss each of these (plus some) individually, right now we just want you to focus on potential terpene medical benefits.
Health Benefits of Terpenes
Each terpene has different health benefits. Whether it be pain relief from myrcene or stress relief from linalool, each terpene has unique health benefits. For example...
Have you ever heard of aromatherapy? Well, aromatherapy is just our fragrant little friends hard at work! For aromatherapy to be effective, an individual must inhale a certain scent or terpene. There are certain scents that may be beneficial to one’s health, so depending on the condition, one can opt for one of a variety of different terpenes. Also, it’s not just the terpenes or just the cannabinoids that hold all the medicinal benefits...
The Entourage Effect
While there is much back and forth between whether full-spectrum vs isolate products are better, there is an increasing amount of evidence in favor of “The Entourage Effect”. We’re not going to really get into “The Entourage Effect” right at this moment, but just know, terpenes can potentially enhance the effectiveness of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, which makes full-spectrum products possibly more effective than isolate products. Think of “full-spectrum” like a big ol’ team effort! #teamworkmakesthedreamwork
In Conclusion, Terpenes ROCK!
While there was much that we didn’t touch on, that’s only because we have a much bigger terpene piece coming at you within the next few weeks. We will get down to the nitty-gritty and really get into the profiles of terpenes. Should you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to contact us. As always, we look forward to serving you!