The distinctive aromas and flavors we associate with cannabis are all thanks to organic molecules known as terpenes. Terpenes are inert chemicals that are produced by all flowers and plants, not just cannabis. These fragrant molecules are the main component of essential oils utilized in both aromatherapy and traditional medicine. Terpenes are what give oranges their wonderful citrus smell, and what make Pineapple Express smell like fresh apple and cedar.
Terpenes, however, do more than arouse our sense of smell and taste. Plants make these pungent oils as a natural defense against foraging predators. Terpenes also lure bees, butterflies, and birds to help in the pollination process.
The therapeutic value of terpenes
Every terpene has a distinct flavor profile and therapeutic potential. Just as lavender oil is known for its relaxing effects, limonene – one of 100+ cannabis terpenes—has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety, and elevate mood. This terpene is also found in peppermint, juniper, and the rinds of citrus fruit.
Linalool, famous for its floral fragrance, is another terpene found in cannabis. This sweet-scented molecule has been shown to help alleviate stress, insomnia, and symptoms of chronic pain.
If you are familiar with the cannabis strain OG Kush, then you have experienced the invigorating piney-flavor of alpha-pinene. This terpene has been praised for anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. There is even some promise that this terpene can help treat patients with Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and MS.
Terpinolene is dominant in 10 percent of all cannabis strains. This terpene has an earthy, floral aroma and is reported to have immense medicinal value thanks to its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-fungal properties. Besides cannabis, terpinolene is also found in conifers, nutmeg, cumin, and tea trees.
Cannabis terpenes are linked to various medicinal benefits, and it’s no surprise that growers within the industry have taken notice. Both growing and curing conditions can have dramatic impacts on terpene levels and expression, leading many growers to adopt methods for achieving preferred terpene profiles.
Terpenes and the ensemble effect
Terpenes are bioactive molecules that work with other cannabis compounds to activate what is known as the ‘entourage’ or ensemble effect. According to research, terpenes can enhance or temper the biological effect of cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
A 2019 study, published in the Frontiers of Neurology, found that terpenes may affect how the body utilizes CBD. Researchers analyzed patients who took cannabidiol-based products for epileptic seizures and discovered that subjects who took CBD-rich extract showed fewer side effects and improvement compared to those who took pure CBD — without the benefit of terpene compounds.
Scientists continue to investigate the role of terpenes and how they work in tandem with cannabinoids to produce the following effects:
Accurate terpene analysis
Terpene analysis is now a common component of Florida cannabis testing. It helps growers cultivate more strategically, and helps consumers identify the right strain for desired benefits.
Modern Canna uses cutting-edge instrumentation and the latest technology to perform terpene profile analyses, in addition to a full range of hemp and medical cannabis testing services. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.