What are terpenes?
Terpenes are safe aromatic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis sativa L.. We can also find them in cinnamon, resin, ginger, essential oils – that is, in such plants, which is characterized by an intense, delightful aroma. In a word, terpenes are mainly responsible for the smell and taste and color. Terpenes don’t contain psychoactive compounds and at the same time do not belong to the cannabinoid group. They are secreted by trichomes – the same resin glands that are responsible for the production of cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids.Thanks to their remarkable properties and therapeutic use, they attract the attention of many scientists.
This is a five-atom hydrocarbon volatile organic compound with the general formula (C5H8) n. Terpene molecules contain isoprene, and the smallest of them (monoterpenes) are formed as a result of the biosynthesis of two molecules. We distinguish between chain and ring terpenes. Due to the size of molecules, they are also divided into groups. According to this division, we can distinguish, e.g: sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes and even tetraterpenes.The name of these compounds comes from turpentine, which in nature is a component of conifer resin – it is a colorless, insoluble substance with a characteristic, pungent odor.
Types and use of terpenes found in cannabis
- Pinen (α-pinen, β-pinen) – is used, i.a. in the asthma treatment, it has anti-inflammatory effect and also stimulates concentration and mating processes. It is also used in the perfumery industry.
- Mircen – acts as a sedative and muscle relaxant, as well as sleeping, analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It is the most common ingredient in hemp’s essential oil. Limonen – is the most important terpene responsible for citrus aromas in cannabis varieties.
- Limonen – is the most important terpene responsible for citrus aromas in cannabis varieties. Limonen is used in medicine, among others for the dissolution of kidney stones, and also has a therapeutic effect. It has antiseptic properties, mainly against bacteria responsible for acne.
- Linalool – has an intense scent of lily of the valley and lavender. Terpen linalool has a calming, anti-stress, anti-anxiety and anti-paroxysmal, anti-convulsive effect. Linalool can also be used on the skin to treat scars and burns.
- Cariophyll – has a spicy, “peppery”, sharp aroma – is responsible for the smell of cloves and black pepper. It is present in all varieties of hemp and is most easily found in cannabis extracts.
- Cariophilene oxide – serves as a protection against pathogenic bacteria and as a broad antifungal spectrum.
- A-bisabolol – this is an extremely valuable terpene. They are recommended for use in inflammation of the digestive tract, in peptic ulcer of the stomach and intestines, as well as in inflammation of the bladder or colic.
- Guaiol – has antiseptic, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, supports the treatment of acne and psoriasis.
- Humulene – known for its ability to minimize the body’s response to irritation and inflammation.
- Terpineol – having the smell of lilac, is used as one of the components of fragrances, for perfumery and cosmetics.
- Kamfen – terpen that treats cardiovascular diseases.
- Eucalyptol – has a bactericidal effect and also alleviates the effects of rhinosinusitis.
- Ocimene – terpen with a sweet and clear aroma. Ocimen has anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties.
The amount of terpenes in nature is huge, scientists say that there are about 20,000 different types of these compounds in plants. There isn’t doubt that they contain many valuable substances in cannabis, and the health effects of cannabinoids are getting better and better. It is possible that in the near future they will join them so far associated only with their taste and aroma of terpenes.