What are terpenes?
Terpenes are organic aromatic compounds that are found in many plants, including cannabis! They are the scent molecules responsible for every plant's unique aroma and flavour. Terpenes quickly evaporate into the air, which is why they are considered "volatile" aromatics.
While terpenes are commonly associated with cannabis, they are also found in many other plants. Everything from fruits and vegetables to herbs and flowers. Some common terpenes found in both cannabis and other plants are:
- Limonene (found in citrus fruit)
- Linalool (found in lavender)
- Pinene (found in pine trees)
- Myrcene (found in hops)
All plants produce terpenes
Plants naturally produce terpenes for many reasons, as they serve multiple functions in a plant's life cycle. For instance, plants may produce terpenes to attract pollinators, repel predators, and help them cope with environmental stressors like heat and drought. This is why outdoor plants often have higher terpene percentages, when compared to indoor-grown plants. They have more environmental stressors and react to them by producing a higher volume of terpenes. Growing outdoors can act as a natural terpene booster for your plant.
Terpenes degrade over time
As terpenes are volatile aromatics, they will naturally degrade over time. Store-bought flower may also have lower terpene percentages due to factors like temperature, humidity, light, and improper harvesting or storage. This is why it's essential to store products properly to preserve their terpene content. To preserve terpenes, keep your buds in an airtight jar (preferably glass jar), away from direct light. After you open the seal on a product, the terpenes do not last very long. If your stash isn't as pungent as it once was, you can infuse terpenes into your flower by using products like CannTerp BudBoosters. BudBoosters are patent-pending and are unique to CannTerp, they are designed to boost the terpene content by infusing additional terpenes in the buds to enhance the flavour, smell and overall effects!
Terpenes are used in aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of scents to balance the body, mind, and spirit. In aromatherapy, terpenes are used in the form of essential oils, typically diffused into the air or applied topically by adding essential oils to lotions, oils, soaps, and other body care products. When terpenes are applied to the skin, it is called Holistic Aromatherapy.
Essential oils contain terpenes
Essential oils are derived directly from specific plants and contain an average of about 95% terpenes. Aromatherapy has been practiced for hundreds of years and has been used broadly to help with certain ailments, promote relaxation, reduce stress, treat skin conditions, improve mood and more. Terpene therapy allows for a wide variety of formulations, to harness the power of many different terpenes and provide effects such as boosting energy, increasing focus, calming effects, and promoting sleep.
Terpenes have many health benefits
Research has shown that terpenes have therapeutic health benefits. Many terpenes have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic properties and have been used as effective treatments for many health conditions. For example, beta-caryophyllene and myrcene have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like arthritis and in treating repetitive stress injuries. The CannTerp Terpene Therapy Line has been designed with a variety of blends of terpenes, commonly used for their pain relieving effects. The pain relief blend features the terpenes beta-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, and eucalyptol and has been formulated to help reduce pain and inflammation in the body. Or try starting with a few terpene isolates, to customize your own formulations based on your own unique preference.
Amazingly, numerous terpenes are currently being studied for many different reasons. Much more research needs to be conducted, but if we look at aromatherapy, there is an established body of work and many studies that illustrate terpenes' effectiveness and health benefits.
Terpenes can change your mood
One of the most common reasons terpene therapy is used, is to affect mood and behaviour. Some terpenes, such as beta-caryophyllene, are used to calm anxiety and have mood-elevating properties. Others, such as limonene, have been found to have mood-enhancing and energizing effects, while the terpene linalool has relaxing and sedating effects. CannTerp has formulated a variety of blends, specifically with these health benefits in mind. Such as the Elevate Terpene Blend, it is a limonene-dominant blend designed to uplift and boost your liveliness with its energetic, elevating and sociable terpenes! These terpenes can be diffused into the air, added to lotions, salves, bath water, food/ beverage etc. and just the smell alone changes your overall mood and energy levels!
Terpenes are not psychoactive and won’t make you high
Terpenes are not psychoactive like cannabinoids THC and CBD. This means that terpenes do not get you “high" when they are consumed. However, they still have an impact on the effects of consumption by influencing how cannabinoids interact with the body. This is commonly known as the entourage effect, and it's why many people prefer full-spectrum products over products that contain only isolated cannabinoids, as spectrum products retain a percentage of their naturally occurring terpene profiles. However, terpenes can be combined with THC or CBD to enhance the therapeutic effects and play a leading role in the nuanced effects in your consumption experience. Terpenes work in synergy with cannabinoids. There is emerging research that is beginning to show that terpenes play a role and interact with some of the same cannabinoid receptors and can modulate their effects.
Terpene profiles vary depending on the strain
Different strains will have varying levels and types of terpenes, which contribute to their aroma, flavour, and overall effects. When a strain is classified as a ‘Sativa’, it often features uplifting terpenes like limonene or pinene. When a strain is classified as an ‘Indica’, it typically features terpenes like linalool or myrcene. Both linalool and myrcene are known to be sleep-inducing, therefore strains that are rich in these terpenes are often recommended to consumers looking to treat insomnia and get better sleep. This is why reading strain terpene profiles is essential to find the right product! Every strain has distinct aromatic characteristics and, therefore effects, which are why some strains may be better suited for specific conditions and therapeutic health benefit purposes.
Terpenes are detected using gas chromatography
There are some common terpenes found in cannabis flowers, known as primary terpenes. These include myrcene, terpinolene, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene. These terpenes and their percentages are detected using a scientific tool known as gas chromatography. It is a standard method for analyzing terpenes. This process involves isolating the different compounds in a sample and then identifying them using a detector. This allows scientists to identify the different terpenes present in a sample and determine their concentration.
We love terpenes
These are some of our favourite facts about terpenes! Because of their unique aromas, ease of use, and health benefits, terpenes can be added to many products to enhance flavour and effects. Everything from diffuser blends, boosting your flower, food and cocktail recipes, and unique products. What’s your favourite thing about terpenes?
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Amanda Breeze is an enthusiastic educator on all things terpenes and aroma. She hosts The Smoking Spot podcast, featuring stories and sensory evaluations of our favourite plant. Follow her on Instagram: @emerald.temple.living