What are Terpenes?
• Terpenes (Terpenoids) are naturally occurring chemical compounds (classed as phytochemicals), accounting for flavour and fragrance, synthesised by plants as well as some insects.
• Plants that produce terpenes are known as aromatic plants, and its distinctive flavour and smell is derived from its unique blend of terpenes.
• Terpenes are the major constituents of plant resin and essential oils extracted from such plants. (For example – The terpene ‘Limonene’ is responsible for the odour of lemons and other citrus fruits).
• Aromatic plants have been used in by cultures throughout the world, not only for perfumery and cooking, but also for medicinal uses.
• Essential oils, composed primarily of terpenes, have a long history of topical and internal medicinal use, and are included in both eastern and western pharmacopeia.
Terpenes and Cannabis
Terpenoids share a precursor with phytocannabinoids. The cannabis plant produces cannabinoids through a convoluted series of chemical reactions that is thought to involve terpenes as ‘building blocks’. Cannabinoids are known as terpenophenolic compounds, as they are comprised of terpene blocks attached to phenol (C6H6O) groups.
At least 200 terpenes have been identified in Cannabis14.
The primary terpenes and terpenoids that have been identified in cannabis are; limonene, myrcene, pinene, linalool, eucalyptol, δ-terpinene, ß-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol and phytol.
Terpenoids are quite potent, and affect animal and even human behaviour when inhaled from ambient air at serum levels in the single digits ng·mL-1 . They display unique therapeutic effects by themselves and may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts1
Terpenes profiles in cannabis
Each cannabis strain contains a unique «terpene profile“14 - A naturally occurring formulation of different individual terpenes (found also in other plants).
This profile is responsible for the unique flavour and fragrance of the strain, but the most fascinating characteristic of terpenes is their ability to interact synergistically with other compounds (THC and CBD) in cannabis and their role in determining the medical benefits/effects of each cannabis strain.
For example - The terpene Limonene is responsible for the odour of lemons in the cannabis strains “Super Lemon Haze” and “Sour Diesel”, and also for the mood- enhancement effect of the strains.
Terpene profiling is thought to be one of the most accurate ways to discern cannabis strains.
“Terpenes contribute to the entourage effects felt in the body and mind”