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Terpenes: 101

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What are terpenes?

Terpenes are organic compounds found in cannabis strains alongside cannabinoids like CBD and THC. They are created in the flower buds of cannabis plants, giving each variety its unique smell and flavor. Some of the same terpenes found in CBD cannabis strains are also found in fruits and vegetables. There are over 120 known terpenes in cannabis.

The best CBD terpenes have significant health benefits and mood-altering properties. Science shows us that terpenes contain compounds that can affect many systems in the body to boost immunity, relieve pain as well as produce a long list  of other positive healthful effects.

CBD interacts with a vital regulatory system in your body. That system is called the endocannabinoid system or ECS. Proper functioning of your endocannabinoid system is critical to your overall health.  Terpenes and CBD together expand the effectiveness of your endocannabinoid system.  Your body self-regulates constantly. Sometimes it needs a little help. That’s where CBD and terpenes come in. Terpenes together with CBD restore balance. They make your ECS work better so you feel better.

Cannabis strains and terpenes have different effects on different people. That said, it is recommended to start off slow. See how strains and terpenes interacts with your specific body chemistry. Then, increase or decrease your dose as you feel appropriate.

Confused about CBD dosages?  There’s a CBD dosage guide right here.

Terpenes can:

  • alleviates stress and anxiousness
  • uplift mood
  • fight depression
  • relax mind and muscles
  • anti-inflammation properties
  • fight stress
  • analgesic properties (pain relief)
  • help with insomnia

ReStart CBD Terpene Profile - Austin TX

The presence of these terpenes along with secondary cannabinoids like THC, CBDa, CBG, CBN, and others activate a therapeutic phenomenon known a the “entourage effect” or cannabis synergy.

According to research, terpenes play an important role in enhancing the properties of the cannabis plant. Some have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that work in synergy with cannabinoids such a CBD and THC, producing better effects that couldn’t be experienced if each terpene worked in isolation.

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds that give cannabis strains like Suver Haze and Charlotte’s Cherries their well-known taste and smell.

Research shows they can do so much more.

  • Most terpenes have anti-microbial properties, meaning that they have properties that can combat potentialloy harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Many terpenes, including Beta-Caryophyllene, have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving, or analgesic properties.
  • Alone, these terpenes have been shown to have powerful therapeutic effects, but within CBD hemp flower, these properties synergize with (CBD)cannabidiol’s natural pain-relieving effects.
  • Terpenes in CBD hemp flower typically exhibit sedative or calming effects as with the terpene Myrcene.
  • Or uplifting and stimulating effects, as with the terpene Limonene.
  • Many of the terpenes in CBD hemp flower also have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. For example, the Linalool found in CBD hemp flower, and also in herbs like Lavender and basil, exhibit near instantaneous relaxing effects that can help alleviate stress-related symptoms of anxiety.

In cannabis, terpenes are made in the trichomes of the plant. Trichomes are the shiny, sticky, mushroom-shaped crystals that cover the leaves and buds. Trichomes on cannabis act as a defense mechanism in nature, protecting the plant from insects and animals through the production of fragrant terpenes that repel these dangers.

Cannabis is an incredibly diverse plant regarding its biological makeup and potential benefits — and terpenes – are no exception.

Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and every strain produces a unique terpene type and composition.  

The most fascinating characteristic of the terpenes is their ability to interact synergistically with other compounds like cannabinoids, specifically cannabidiol – CBD.

RESTART CBD Common Terpenes
PHOTO: LEAFLY

For the most part, terpenes can be broken down into four categories:

  • sour
  • sweet
  • spicy
  • bitter

Each category further breaks down into more specific smells. These specific smells consist with certain strains, which in turn correlate to the effects of that plant.

How Terpenes Affect your Mood

A sour-smelling flower may have a strong lemon scent to it. Lemon scented strains are often correlated with strains like super lemon haze; these are zesty sativas that give you a boost of energy and euphoria. 

Some terpenes also bind to these receptor sites and affect their chemical
output. Others can modify how much of each compound CBD and THC
passes through the blood-brain barrier. Their hand of influence is called the “entourage effect” and even reaches to neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin by altering their rate of production and destruction, their movement, and availability of receptors.

The effects these mechanisms produce vary from terpene to terpene; some are especially successful in relieving stress, while others promote focus and acuity.

Common Terpenes in Hemp Flower:

Terpenes all have different gifts and effects. They can affect our mood, our stress response, and our mindset.

While a sativa and indica distinction can be a general guide in choosing a product for your desired effects, their differences primarily pertain to the physical appearance of the plant.

As biochemical components of the plant, terpenes are a more reliable source when picking the right strain for your needs.

Whereas THC or CBD typically makes up 10-30% of a flower’s dry weight, terpenes occurs in trace amounts, generally less than 2%.

Best naturally occurring terpenes in CBD Hemp.

Guide to Taste, Smell and Benefits

This guide backed by the latest studies.

  • learn the smell and taste of the best cannabis terpenes
  • match terpenes to their exact effects
  • learn how to boost the terpene entourage effect
  • learn how to identify strains with beneficial terpene profiles

Let’s get started.

Knowing about terpenes will help guide you and friends in buying decisions — the more you know, the more likely you are to get the effect you expect.

Terpene charts often show up to 120 different terpenes found in high CBD cannabis strains.  Most of those terpenes are present in very small quantities. The 16 terpenes in the list below are the ones that will have the most effect on your experience.

Once you successfully dial in the entourage effect for your body, CBD products become more effective.

Limonene

Limonene (LYM-o-neen) LM (Citrus) –  Uplifts mood, relieves stress and anxiety by increasing our serotonin levels, the neurotransmitter also known as the “happy chemical.” It will yield a more energetic experience. Digestive issues may be improved through limonene’s potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects. Cannabis strains high in limonene are usually very social and energizing strains.

AROMA: A strong citrus scent usually means a cannabis strain is high in the terpene limonene.

Limonene: Known to be an antifungal agent, and it may also boost mood and reduce inflammation. It’s a crucial terpene in CBD because it can increase the absorption rate of other terpenes.

Limonene is not only characteristic of citrus-smelling cannabis but it’s also the exact terpene found in lemons and other citrus fruit rinds, like oranges and limes, giving them that fruity smell.It’s a natural insecticide on the cannabis plant and can even assist in treating toenail fungus in humans. Limonene is easily absorbed through inhalation and even improves absorption of other terpenes through the skin and body tissue, like mucous membranes and the digestive tract. 

  • According to multiple studies, a CBD cannabis strain with a lemon-like scent might be all that’s needed to uplift your mood.  
  • Scientific studies actually show that cannabis strains with pleasant-smelling terpene profiles (like limonene) may even make you feel happier during stressful situations.
  • Studies also show limonene may have cancer-preventive properties for breast cancer and colorectal cancers.
  • Additionally, Limonene has strong anti-inflammatory properties.  
  • Limonene anti-inflammatory and cholesterol dissolving properties may be helpful to cardiovascular health as well as gut disorders like Colitis and Crohn’s disease.
  • Multiple studies show Limonene aids in treating heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).
  • Though unproven, it is thought limonene has beneficial properties for weight control and skincare. *These claims require further study.

More on Limonene’s Therapeutic Effects

Pinene

Do you enjoy cannabis? Then it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve experienced the terpene pinene. It’s very common in cannabis strains.

Pinene: Used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia for it’s therapeutic benefits as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a bronchodilator.

AROMA:  Pinene is responsible for the distinctive pine-like scent in cannabis strains. That familiar pine scent in your cannabis is likely derived from the terpene pinene.

Pinene actually comes in two types: alpha, which smells like pine needles and is the most commonly found terpene in nature, and beta, which smells like rosemary, basil, dill, or parsley.  Pinene is also found in conifer trees, turpentine and citrus peels. Pinene is a powerful bronchodilator, which helps improve airflow to lungs, making it a good option for those struggling with asthma. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and local antiseptic and has been used by cultures around the world for its healing properties for thousands of years. Pinene easily crosses the blood-brain barrier improving memory and alertness. It’s even said that pinene counters memory loss associated with THC.

According to recent studies Pinene is believed to have vast therapeutic potential.

  • Pinene has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It also has potential cancer-related benefits.
  • The anti-inflammatory properties help relieve pain.
  • CBD oil with pinene may act as a bronchodilator and open lung airways.
  • Fights stress and anxiety.
  • Significant benefits for hard to treat pain.

Myrcene

If anxiety a part of your life myrcene really helps.  Myrcene one of the most common terpenes associated with cannabis and found in numerous CBD cannabis strains.  It has a dank, earthy, fruity and herbal scent – just like cannabis. Despite being the smallest terpene, myrcene can have powerful effects on the body and is known to produce a tiring effect by making you sleepy.  Myrcene helps your body uptake and make use of cannabinoids like CBD more effectively. As far as potential medical uses, myrcene has been indicated to be an antibacterial compound that may relieve pain.

AROMA: If you’re CBD flower has a “fruity” aroma, there’s a good chance you’re smelling myrcene.

Commonly found in mangoes, thyme, hops and lemongrass, myrcene is said to be one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis. Myrcene is important because its presence determines whether a strain is indica or sativa. According to Steep Hill Labs, if a plant has more than 0.5% myrcene, it will produce indica-like effects. Anything less than 0.5% myrcene produces sativa-like effects.

Myrcene has been used for centuries in traditional medicines around the world. It is known for many properties:

  • Antibiotic
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-mutagenic
  • Pain Reliever
  • Muscle relaxing properties
  • When present in high doses, myrcene may act as a powerful sedative.

If you’ve had a particularly crushing day, you might try a strain high in myrcene to your promote your evening relaxation routine. It could be a powerful aid to your rest and recovery.

Linalool

Does stress pile up on you? CBD with the terpene linalool is a natural way to restore composure.

Along with limonene and myrcene, linalool is a fairly well-studied cannabis terpene, even though few strains—mainly indicas—contain it in very high amounts. Linalool adds a light floral scent and spicy taste to marijuana when smoked or added to edibles, but its healing effects are far more significant, both on their own and in combination with other marijuana compounds.

Linalool is commonly found in lavender and its aroma is light and floral. Linalool is found in over 200 species of plants making it one the most abundant terpenes. Some fruits and vegetables contain very high concentrations of linalool.  Widely known for the ability to reduce stress, linalool is used as an anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and sedative. Linalool is also used to relieve seizure symptoms and provide relief to those suffering from Linalool also makes the immune system more resilient to the destructive effects of stress.   It’s used as a sleep aid and an anti-anxiety ingredient in aromatherapy.

Linalool has been used by people throughout history as a traditional medicine. It is non-toxic to humans in common dosages though it can be an eye and skin irritant at very high concentrations. 

  • Within the body, linalool breaks down and is expelled quickly.
  • Linalool has remarkable health benefits.
  • Relieves inflammation and depression
  • Its effects range from anti-anxiety results to anti-bacterial attributes.
  • Linalool is used as a scenting agent in products like soap, shampoo, and skin care cream.
  • As with lavender, linalool has a natural sedative effect.
  • Good for eliminating daily stress and anxietyMultiple studies have found that linalool is effective at fighting anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
  • Linalool boosts the immune system and has promising cancer-fighting effects. Studies show linalool may help kill cancer cells and provide protection from tumors. Not enough sleep and stress-induced inflammation are precursors to infection.
  • Linalool is also believed to affect the distribution of white blood cells. White blood cells are your body’s immune system response to infection.
  • So, this terpene puts your immune system in a position to fight off infection before it occurs. Linalool works with your body to more effectively use its own defenses.

Humulene

Humulene (HYOO-myu-leen)HM(Hoppy) One of the most abundant terpenes in hemp and other herbs. May act as an appetite suppressant and an anti-inflammatory.

Effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-anxiety
  • anti-depressant
  • Stress relief
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Pain
  • Relieves nausea
  • Cancer
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-oxidant

Aroma: Earthy, woody, herbal, spicy, floral, and “hoppy.” Beer drinkers will instantly recognize the scent of humulene, which is a key component in hops. Dank, woodsy and pungent, humid scent.

Besides every beer lover’s favorite plant, this terpene is present in pungent herbs & spices like cloves, coriander and basil. Humulene is also found in sage, hops, ginseng, peppermint, and black pepper.

Caryophyllene

Are you in pain? Having difficulty finding something that takes away the pain but won’t get you hooked or feel loopy? Caryophyllene has some benefits you need to hear about. Taking caryophyllene for hard to treat pain is one of its main benefits.

AROMA: Caryophyllene’s flavor is a bit spicy. It’s scent is similar to black pepper.

Caryophyllene is also found in spices like black pepper, hops, cloves, basil, and rosemary.

Unique because it may be able to interact with the endocannabinoid system, just like cannabinoids.

  • It may act as an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory.
  • Significant anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits may help gut and bowel disorders (such as IBS)
  • Interestingly, its anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to protect the brain from premature aging.
  • May be helpful for neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • May help those with opioid dependence.
  • Increases the effects of low dose opiate painkillers.
  • Individuals consuming opiates can take smaller doses of opiates but receive greater pain relief by adding caryophyllene. Great pain relief from opiates in the presence of caryophyllene is a result of caryophyllene’s interaction with the CB2 receptor.

Caryophyllene’s benefits result from its ability to activate the CB2 receptor. The CB2 receptor is the same part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).  The CB2 receptor is the same part of the nervous system that CBD activates. Activation of the CB2 receptor may have benefits for treating multiple sclerosis as well.   The endocannabinoid system is part of your larger nervous system. It is present throughout your brain, spine, and extremities. Caryophyllene, like CBD, functions as a signaling compound. It relays regulatory signals throughout your endocannabinoid system. Caryophyllene’s effect on your ECS can help maintain good health and homeostasis (chemical balance).

Terpinene

Terpinene is a colorless liquid that smells like turpentine. It’s found infrequently in fruits and vegetables but is in multiple cannabis strains. Terpinene isolate can also be derived from cardamom and marjoram oils.  

According to a May 2019 study, terpinene has:

  • Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.
  • Mild anxiety-causing effects.
  • These properties make terpinene suitable for use in topical CBD creams.
  • Terpinene may have benefits for treating acne and atopic dermatitis topically.

Guaiol

Guaiol (pronounced “gweye-all”) is found in high CBD cannabis strains as well as Cypress Pine trees. Guaiol’s smell is similar to fresh pine with hints of rose.   It has a fruit-like flavor similar to red plums. 

  • Guaiol has anti-inflammatory effects and anti-bacterial properties
  • It’s a traditional medicine with a long history.
  • It has been used widely in Chinese medicine for centuries. 
  • Historically, guaiol was used to treat diseases such as Gout, Arthritis, and the common sore throat.
  • May have anticancer benefits for non-small cell lung cancer.
  • Guaiol may also relieve high blood pressure. *Unfortunately, there there is little scientific evidence to back up this historical claim.
  • Appears to have “anti-analgesic” effects.cThis means guaiol may decrease the painkilling effects of CBD, cannabinoids, and other painkillers.

    In a 2018 study, Guaiol was identified by medical marijuana patients as a terpene that potentially increases anxiety

Nerolidol

Trans-nerolidol is a secondary terpene found in some CBD cannabis strains. 

AROMA: Has a fresh woody smell similar to tree bark and a fruit-like flavor similar to citrus.

It’s also found in jasmine, ginger, lavender, and tea-tree.

  • A powerful anti-oxidant properties
  • Anti-microbial benefits which may be helpful for certain skin conditions.
  • Fights both human and plant fungal diseases.
  • Strong antifungal benefits.
  • Studies show trans-nerolidol has anti-cancer properties in animal models. Nerolidol’s cancer-fighting properties have yet to be tested clinically in humans.

Bisabolol

Are you having difficulty getting to sleep? Does anxiety keep you awake? Try CBD tea with bisabolol. It helps change your state of mind so you welcome sleep. Bisabolol is not found in many plants but can be found in some CBD cannabis strains.

  • Bisabolol is the primary ingredient in essential oils from chamomile flowers.
  • Bisabolol has been used in skincare remedies for centuries.
  • Anti-irritant and skin healing properties have found use in the cosmetics industry.
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
  • Useful in treating inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis

Future of Cannabis

You may start hearing companies discuss their products based on feelings. Some brands advertise solely based on their intended effects. Buying a vape pen labeled “relax” or “energy” is a game changer.  Sativa’s are not created equal.  One sativa may provide focus while another sativa may offer higher levels of energy. Varied terpene content within sativa strains will make certain products better for certain effects, and the use of mood-based branding will provide solutions for different types of customers.

AND because growing conditions and plant genetics determine terpene quality and content, growers are now able to make adjustments to the “how” and “what” they grow, in order to meet consumer demand. This is a much faster and transparent process than waiting for a new pharmaceutical drug to hit the market.

Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrids

Picking between the different strains, indica vs sativa enables us to precisely choose how we are going to feel.  But most plant profiles today are a hybrid.  Over the years, breeders have selected and crossed different sorts of cultivars, and have been quite successful in creating strains with characteristics having “the best of both worlds.

Terpenes and Vaporizing

Because terpenes have different molecular structures, their boiling points vary. The temperature at which you vaporize becomes important for understanding what produces your desired effects.

  • Some compounds require higher boiling points to turn into vapor, while others are ineffective at high temperatures.
  • The same goes for cannabinoids.
  • For example, THC’s boiling point is 315 F and Linalool’s boiling point is 388 F. There is a multitude of vaporizers on the market and temperature customization is becoming increasingly popular. Smoking anything isn’t ideal for your body — combustion creates smoke which contains by-products that are harsh on your lungs. Vaporizing is more gentle on the body, and more of the vapor content is made of the cannabinoids and terpenes that you seek.

Many devices now let you change the temperature directly on the device, providing cannabis consumers with options to consume at different temperatures. Cannabinoids begin to vaporize at 285 F and combustion begins at 392 F. Playing with different temperatures will help you find your sweet spot.

Terpenes are generally regarded as having minimal side effects.

Terpenes are present in many wild plants and food crops. It is likely that you are already consuming many cannabis terpenes daily. You should expect that your regular fruit and vegetable diet will share some of the same terpenes with cannabis.

So, terpenes are nothing new to your body.

  • Proceed cautiously until you understand how your body will respond.
  • Everyone’s body is different.
  • Start off slowly with any new compounds.
  • Dial-in your CBD and terpene dosage as you go.
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