- Lady Nwadike, MS
Plant Power: What Are Terpenes?
You likely have heard of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They are usually the star players when discussing all things cannabis.
But how about terpenes? These compounds do exist and play an important role in the cannabis plant’s health benefits. Understanding the therapeutic effects of specific terpenes can help you find the right cannabis product for your health needs.
Lemon, lavender and many other plants contain terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic molecules that help give certain plants their distinctive smells. These compounds also have therapeutic benefits. Cannabis also contains many familiar terpenes, including linalool and limonene. These terpenes add to the plant’s therapeutic benefits.
Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis are listed below. It’s important to note that plants can contain multiple terpenes.
Myrcene: Commonly found in cannabis strains/chemovars as well as in basil, lemongrass and ylang ylang. Myrcene helps promote sleep and may also reduce inflammation.
Limonene: Well-known for providing a mood lift while reducing stress and anxiety, all by elevating serotonin levels in the brain.
Linalool: Shown to reduce anxiety and depression, while also improving sleep quality. Linalool is also being tested in clinical settings to help reduce pain and nausea following surgery.
Pinene: Found in evergreen trees, and also in many cannabis chemovars, pinene has anti-inflammatory and respiratory benefits.
Beta-Caryophyllene: Found in black pepper, oregano, and cloves as well as cannabis. Beta-caryophyllene (also referred to as “caryophyllene”) is unique among terpenes found in cannabis, because it can bind directly to CB2 receptors which are located throughout your body. Caryophyllene is being studied for its impact reducing inflammation and pain, as well as its potential to protect age-related cognitive decline.
Alpha-Caryophyllene (Humulene): Also found in hops, humulene works together with caryophyllene to reduce inflammation. It also can suppress appetite.
Our understanding of how these plant compounds contribute to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis is growing every day.