There’s a lot going on inside a cannabis plant. It’s made up of hundreds of organic compounds, one large class of which are terpenes.
Terpenes are what gives each cannabis strain its distinctive taste and smell. Terpenes aren’t exclusive to cannabis; they’re produced by many plants, including lavender, rosemary, mint, and basil, to provide protection from insects and disease. They’re also the building blocks of essential oils, and are used in many fragrances and flavorings.
More Than Just a Pretty Scent
In addition to their aromatic properties, terpenes are said to have a variety of therapeutic benefits, including antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. Three of the most common terpenes found in medical cannabis are limonene, pinene, and myrcene.
Limonene is often found in sativa strains. It has a strong citrus flavor and smell, and has anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, anti-diabetic, and antifungal properties. It also provides relief from pain, nausea, and gastric reflux, and stimulates the immune system.
Pinene is the most common terpene there is. It gives many of your favorite cannabis strains that taste of pine. Pinene has anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-anxiety, and antibacterial properties; aids memory; helps with asthma, and brain function; and improves respiration.
Myrcene is found in most strains of cannabis. Those with high levels tend to have a couch-lock effect and those with low levels tend to be more energizing. Myrcene has earthy, fruity notes with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, and analgesic properties, and also supports brain function and sleep. In addition, myrcene enhances THC’s psychoactivity.
New Medical Breakthroughs on the Horizon?
Unlike countless studies on cannabinoids, research on terpenes in cannabis is just starting to emerge. In time, we may learn how the terpene-specific strains can be used to treat many more health conditions.