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Terpenes: An overview of cannabis’ aromatic terpenoids and their uses

The unique therapeutic effects of terpenes “contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts,” according to a study

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Ever wondered what terpenes are? You might not see them, but if you look really closely or with a microscope, you’ll notice that your chunky nuggets of weed are glistening in a furry coat of terpenes.

Cannabis terpenes excrete aromatic essential oils, known as terpenoids or more commonly, terpenes. Found in most plants, terpenes are responsible for giving each individual cannabis strain its potent aroma and flavor.

What are the most common terpenes found in cannabis and their health benefits?

Scientists have discovered something called the “entourage effect.” Basically, this process occurs when chemicals work synergistically with one another to produce enhanced health benefits.

The unique therapeutic effects of terpenes “contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts,” according to the study  “THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.”

Listed below are some of the most common cannabis-containing terpenes:

  • Myrcene – This primary terpene found in the cannabis, and sometimes hemp, plants has anti-inflammatory analgesic effects and anti-mutagenic influences. Additionally, it works as a natural antibiotic.
  • Limonene – A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, limonene may improve gallbladder health. Limonene has even been used in clinical trials to clear cholesterol from the gallbladder and relieve indigestion.
  • Beta-caryophyllene – Research suggests that beta-caryophyllene maintains body homeostasis by stimulating the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is the ECS that regulates eating, sleeping and mood.
  • Terpinolene – An anticancer, antioxidant and sedative, terpinolene is best enjoyed to promote calmness and relieve pain.
  • Alpha-pinene – Aside from promoting better memory, alpha-pinene is an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-ulcerative.
  • Humulene – Heard that weed gives you the munchies? Not always. When humulene is involved, this anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory may even suppress feelings of hunger.
  • Linalool – Floral in its aroma, this stress-combatting terpene is ideal when consumed in the form of a sedating Indica strain.
  • Eucalyptol – Useful for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in treating various diseases, eucalyptol is a common cannabis terpene that could prove beneficial for people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease, pancreatitis and colon problems.
  • Delta-3-Carene – This strong anti-inflammatory could relieve the symptoms of systemic inflammation caused by arthritis, bursitis, and fibromyalgia.

Determining the terpenoid content of cannabis

Terpenes help cannabinoids to absorb through the blood-brain barrier for fast effects. These aromatic molecules bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which may trigger analgesic responses. To understand which terpenes best suit your cannabis-consuming needs, perform adequate research on strain choices, ask a supplier or budtender inside a dispensary and always check the label.

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Terpenes: An overview of cannabis’ aromatic terpenoids and their uses