The cannabis plant is a botanical universe unto itself with more than 400 active compounds. Over 100 of these come in the form of cannabinoids, with the most abundant being THC and CBD. But that still leaves a whole bunch of other stuff in the plant to discover, with terpenes in particular garnering interest in the scientific community.
What are terpenes?
But what exactly are terpenes? They provide the distinctive smell not only in cannabis, but also all herbs, flowers and plants in nature. Most of us have heard of the therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy oils such as lavender for relaxation, and rosemary for relief from muscle soreness. But did you know the oils extracted from household herbs and flowers contain many of the same terpenes found in cannabis?
That’s not to say that terpenes exist just for the benefit of mankind to help rid us of our woes and ailments. Terpenes are in fact a plant’s way of protecting itself against pests, and to help it survive in high temperatures.
Terpenes in the cannabis plant
The cannabis plant contains around 200 terpenes, which along with cannabinoids are produced in the sticky resin of the trichomes. Terpenes only make up about 1% of overall cannabis samples, but about 10% of trichome content.
They evaporate at high temperatures, explaining why cannabis plants smell most pungent in the morning. This also makes early in the day the best time for harvesting to ensure maximum terpene availability.
The most abundant terpenes in cannabis are myrcene, pinene, limonene, linalool, eucalyptol and caryophyllene, with the variation between them dictating a strain’s distinctive smell. Steephill Labs in California have even gone as far as suggesting that the difference between Cannabis Sativa and Indica is down to its terpene content saying, “if a sample has over 0.5% myrcene, it will have indica, or ‘couch-lock’ effects. If a sample has less than 0.5%, it will have the soaring sativa effect.”
In cannabis products that have been decarboxylated (which are the majority), it’s the heat resistant terpene caryophyllene that is most abundant, which is why sniffer dogs are trained to detect it when searching for cannabis.
Ok, so terpenes smell kind of nice, but do they really do anything to our bodies?
As it happens, science backs up what aromatherapists have known for years – that terpenes can bring about physiological changes in the body. In the seminal paper ‘Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects,’ author Dr Ethan Russo describes how “terpenoid components in concentrations above 0.05% are considered of pharmacological interest,” and how “mice exposed to terpenoid odours inhaled from ambient air for 1 h demonstrated profound effects on activity levels, suggesting a direct pharmacological effect on the brain, even at extremely low serum concentrations.”
So, as it’s clear that terpenes are not just ‘extra’ ingredients in cannabis products, let’s take a whistle stop tour around the main aromatic contenders, concentrating in particular on the terpenes found in our Eternal Plants CBD oil products.
The most common terpenes found in Eternal Plants CBD Oil