All about Marijuana Terpenes: Terps & Flavonoids

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If you are a marijuana consumer, you would know that the aromas from different cannabis plants vary. You can also probably relate to taking a good sniff and inhaling these aromas when choosing a strain.

But have you considered what causes these aromas? They actually come from what is called Marijuana Terpenes, or Terpenoids. In general, Terpenes are the compounds found in cannabis that produce the unique smells.

There are a lot of different cannabis plants, and the aromas that vary from different strains serve as a guide to patients in developing a preference. Sweet, sour, citrus and strong are a few good examples of how these aromas are classified.

To understand how Terpenes impact your choice and what it may mean about the strain, we need to take a deeper look into Terpenes.

Where does the smell come from?

marijuana terpenes

Terpenes and Terpenoids can be found as the primary component of essential oils in many types of plants and flowers. These essential oils are used as fragrances in perfume and are also used in medicine, including alternative medicine such as aromatherapy.

Terpenes serve as a major constituent in the Cannabis Sativa plant. There are 140 identified compounds within the cannabis plant which relate to terpenes.

They are not only responsible for the plant’s aroma or smell, but terpenes also go hand in hand and work together with cannabinoids in the cannabis plant to provide promising medical applications.

Examples of these are as follows:

What are Terpenes or Terpenoids in Marijuana?

Terpenes can be seen present in the glandular, hair-like follicles in the cannabis bud. Terpene production increases when a marijuana plant is exposed to more light, which is why you see them either grown out in large sunny areas or under strong artificial lights.

Terpenes are also present in the cannabis plant as it provides the plant with a natural barrier of protection against fungus, bacteria, insects and other environmental stresses that may affect the plant’s growth and development.

Essential oils in Terpenes are usually extracted from the cannabis plant material through the process of vaporization or by steam distillation.

THC vaporizes around the same time as Terpenes do, at around 157 degrees Celsius, although there are some Terpenes which are more volatile than others and may need an increase in heat to vaporize.

THC, the main psychotropic cannabinoid in the cannabis plant has already been studied a lot with regard to its medicinal value. However, the medicinal properties of many other Cannabinoids, Terpenoids and Flavonoids that have a huge impact in boosting the therapeutic effects have not and remains understudied.

Kinds of Terpenes in Marijuana

terpene wheel

As already discussed, Terpenes are responsible for the varying aromas in cannabis and the physiological effects associated with it. Ultimately, the idea of knowing the aroma contributed by concentrations of specific Terpenes will help in identifying certain strains and their effects, allowing for more targeted production and use.

Companies have made ‘Terpene Wheels’ for marketing purposes, but this tool has also made it possible for patients to have a clearer choice when deciding which strain to use for their desired effects.

Below are some Terpenes and a quick run through of their properties:

Myrcene Aroma: musky, earthy, herbal – akin to cloves Where it can be found: oil of hops, citrus fruits, bay leaves, eucalyptus, wild thyme, lemon grass and many other plants Medical Uses: potent analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antimutagenic Bonamin et al study focused on the role of β-myrcene in preventing peptic ulcer disease β-myrcene acts as an inhibitor of gastric and duodenal ulcers sedative and relaxing effects also make it ideal for the treatment of insomnia and pain Pinene Aroma: pine and fir Where it can be found: found mostly in balsamic resin, pine woods and some citrus fruits Medical Uses: anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator and local antiseptic effects of THC may be lessened if mixed with pinene α-pinene is a natural compound isolated from pine needle oil which has shown anti-cancer activity and has been used as an anti-cancer agent in Traditional Chinese Medicine Limonene Aroma: strong citrusy smells like oranges, lemons and limes Where it can be found: citrus fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper and peppermint, as well as in several pine needle oils Medical Uses: limonene suppresses the growth of many species of fungi and bacteria, making it an ideal antifungal agent for ailments such as toenail fungus Limonene may be beneficial in protecting against various cancers, and orally administered limonene is currently undergoing clinical trials in the treatment of breast cancer and can also help promote weight loss. Caryophyllene Aroma: peppery, woody and/or spicy Where it can be found: plants such as Thai basils, cloves, cinnamon leaves and black pepper, and in minor quantities in lavender Medical Uses: β–caryophyllene holds promise in cancer treatment plans Fine/Rosenfeld pain study- treatment of chronic pain (phytocannabinoids + cannabidiol and beta caryophyllene) high-caryophyllene strains may be useful in treating a number of medical issues such as arthritis and neuropathy pain. Linalool Aroma: floral and lavender undertones Where it can be found: Lamiaceae plant and herb family- mints and other scented herbs, are common sources. The Lauraceae plant family, which includes laurels, cinnamon, and rosewood. Medical Uses: sleep aid, treatment of both psychosis and anxiety, boosts the immune system; can significantly reduce lung inflammation, and can restore cognitive and emotional function may significantly reduce lung inflammation Terpinolene Aroma: piney aroma with slight herbal and floral nuances Where it can be found: sage and rosemary and found in the oil derived from Monterey cypress Medical uses: central nervous system depressant used to induce drowsiness or sleep or to reduce psychological excitement or anxiety Camphene Aroma: damp woodlands and fir needles Where it can be found: essential oils such as turpentine, camphor oil, citronella oil and ginger oil Medical uses: Vallianou et al study- Camphene may play a critical role in cardiovascular disease Terpineol Aroma: lilacs and flower blossoms Where it can be found: terpineol is often found in cannabis varieties that have high pinene levels Medical Uses: known to have calming, relaxing effects, antibiotic, ache inhibitor and antioxidant antimalarial properties Phellandrene Aroma: pepperminty, with a slight scent of citrus Where it can be found: in a number of herbs and spices, including cinnamon, garlic, dill, ginger and parsley Medical Uses: digestive disorders, prevent and treat systemic fungal infections Phellandrene is described as pepperminty, with a slight scent of citrus. Phellandrene is believed to have special medicinal values. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat digestive disorders. It is one of the main compounds in turmeric leaf oil, which is used to prevent and treat systemic fungal infections. Carene Aroma: sweet, pungent odour Where it can be found: found naturally in many healthy, beneficial essential oils cypress oil, juniper berry oil and fir needle essential oils Medical Uses: central nervous system depressant, dry out excess body fluids Humulene Aroma: (Humulene) gives beer its distinct ‘hoppy’ aroma Where it can be found: hops, cannabis sativa strains, and Vietnamese coriander, among others Medical Uses: anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anorectic (suppresses appetite) Pulegone Aroma: pleasant peppermint aroma Where it can be found: Higher concentrations of pulegone are found in rosemary Medical Uses: sedative and fever-reducing properties, alleviate the side effects of short-term memory loss Sabinene Aroma: reminiscent of the holidays (pines, oranges, spices) Where it can be found: Norway spruce, black pepper, basil and Myristica fragrance Medical Uses: natural source of new antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs for the development of food supplements, nutraceuticals or plant-based medicines Geraniol Aroma: sweet, delightful smell similar to roses Medical Uses: effective mosquito repellant, shows promise in the treatment of neuropathy

If you are interested to learn more about cannabis terpenes watch the below video with Dr Teh, Cannabinoid Clinician explaining them in great details:

Customizing Terpenes

It is now possible to predict and manipulate the effects of varieties by understanding and mapping terpene profiles. The breeder is given the opportunity to develop new and desired cannabis strains by basing their decisions on data. This, in turn, makes it easier for the patient to choose the ideal strain for the desired effect.

As more and more scientific developments are happening in the field of cannabis, the language of medical marijuana is becoming universal—easier to communicate and easier to understand.

What kind of aroma would you want to get from your weed?  

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