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What are Terpenes and How Do They Enhance Cannabis?

Spyros Papamichail
October 31, 2020

What are terpenes?

According to Wikipedia, terpenes are a “large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants, particularly conifers, and by some insects.” Their role is first and foremost to produce distinct aromas. Terpenes are behind the characteristic scent of mangos, pine trees, anise, and a wide array of plants you can identify by smell. Terpenes are abundant in tree resin and are the main ingredient of essential oils. They are commonly used in food, cosmetics, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Note that while these terms are often used interchangeably, terpenes and terpenoids are not the same thing. From a chemical standpoint, terpenes are hydrocarbons (hydrogen and carbon molecules,) unlike terpenoids which contain additional functional groups that are usually oxygen-based.

Terpenes in cannabis

Terpenes are integral parts of the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant contains more than 100 identified terpenes, and each of them comes with its own characteristics, scent, and set of potential benefits. Each cannabis strain contains a diverse terpene profile—for example, strains with the name “Lemon” often contain large amounts of limonene alongside other terpenes.

Terpenes and cannabis are so closely entangled that a common misconception is that terpenes are cannabinoids. That’s not true, and terpenes (with one exception which will be discussed later on) do not bind to the brain’s receptors.

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CBDfx Terpenes Vape Pens are disposable vapes filled with 50 mg of full spectrum cannabidiol and flavored with real terpenes. Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants that give each hemp strain its own unique flavor and character. CBDfx Terpenes Vape Pens come in four natural strain-specific varieties.

CBD terpenes

While CBD itself doesn’t actually contain terpenes, terpenes and CBD are commonly used together. Many broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD products contain a variety of terpenes in their formulas, which not only help by lending an original aroma, but also by adding to the way of benefits. We previously discussed their effects as standalone chemical compounds, so let’s take a look at the way terpenes synergize with cannabinoids.

While not measurably, the entourage effect is almost certainly enriched with the addition of terpenes. But what is the entourage effect? It’s been long hypothesized that the effects of the whole cannabis plant are far more beneficial to us than the sum of the plant’s parts. CBD, THC, and the rest of the cannabinoids work together in synergy and produce a much more wholesome effect. With terpenes being a very important part of the chemical profile of cannabis, there is a high chance that they also add to this synergy.

But what does that mean for you? If you want to reap the full benefits of CBD oil, going after a broad or a full-spectrum CBD product is probably the best choice. (Note that full-spectrum CBD oil contains low amounts of THC, which is probably not enough to get you high but may cause you a failed drug test.) But a full or broad-spectrum CBD oil is not guaranteed to contain terpenes, and when it does, the terpene content may be negligible. For this reason, it is always worth checking independent test results. This way you can be sure that your product contains the right amount of the terpenes you are after.

The most important terpenes in cannabis

Here’s a rundown of some of the most important terpenes found in cannabis, their basic characteristics, and their effects to the organism.

Myrcene

Myrcene is found in large concentrations in the cannabis plant. It exudes a musky herbal aroma.

Effects: quickens the effects of cannabinoids, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antioxidant, relaxing
Other sources: wild thyme, hops, lemon grass, mango, cardamom

Limonene

As you’d expect from its name, limonene is a terpene with a characteristic citrusy aroma. It is often found in fruit rinds and a wide array of citrus fruits.

Effects: uplifting, relaxing, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Other sources: citrus fruits, rosemary, coniferous trees

Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene is the only terpene that acts as a cannabinoid. It binds to the brain’s receptors and acts as an antioxidant. It has a spicy and peppery aroma.

Effects: anti-inflammatoryantioxidant, relaxing, antidepressant, analgesic, neuroprotective
Other sources: black pepper, cloves, rosemary, hops

Terpinolene

Terpinolene is widely used in perfumery due to its complex piney herbal scent.

Effects: uplifting, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, sedative
Other sources: allspice, parsnip, apples, cumin, sage, rosemary.

Pinene

Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature. It has a characteristic piney aroma and can be found in a wide variety of plants.

Effects: anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antianxiety, antimicrobial
Other sources: pine, coniferous tree resin, citrus fruits, basil, parsley

Humulene

Humulene’s characteristic herbal scent is behind the hoppy aroma of beer.

Effects: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, appetite suppressor
Other sources: hops, coriander, basil

Linalool

Linalool is the main terpene in lavender and comes with a strong, floral aroma.

Effects: relaxing, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, sedative
Other sources: lavender, mint, cinnamon

It is also important to note that each terpene has its own boiling point. That’s especially useful when using a variable temperature vaporizer. If you are interested in the ideal temperature for vaporizing cannabis terpenes, make sure to check our best temperature to vape weed article.

My first attempt at vaping came back in 2009 on some of the first cigalikes to ever reach Europe. A couple of attempts -- and vaping tech generations later -- I managed to quit smoking in 2016, and have since then developed somewhat of an obsession with all things vaping. When I am not consuming vape reviews I am either tinkering my NBA fantasy teams or playing board games with friends.
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Reza
Reza
9 days ago

Very good

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