limonene

Limonene

Monoterpene. Precursor to all other monoterpenes and the second most prevalent monoterpene in nature, predominantly found in citrus. Limonene shows promise as an acne treatment for its ability to inhibit bacterial growth. Strong solvent capabilities and typically known to produce a stimulating and antidepressant effect. It is also said to help counteract acid reflux, as well as, help negate over consumption of THC.

 

Aroma: citrus, fruity, floral, herbal, sweet, sour 

Image by Markus Spiske

Alpha Pinene

Monoterpene and most abundant terpene found in nature, most common to conifers but found in numerous plant Essential Oils and primary function being to repel insects. It is known to be anti-inflammatory, a bronchodilator, enhance memory and can influence a stimulated, focused mood.

 

Aroma: pine, wood, earthy, citrus

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Beta   Caryophyllene

Sesquiterpene commonly found in cannabis likely due to its functionality in plants. The first terpene also proven to be a cannabinoid which binds to the CB2 receptors in our Endocannabinoid System, but shows a lack of psychoactivity. It shows anti-inflammatory and analgesic capabilities, as well as, sedative, calming and mood elevating effects offering many applications in therapeutic use. Found in black pepper, clove and caraway.

Aroma: spice, wood, earthy, sweet 

Image by Markus Spiske

Myrcene

Monoterpene and the most abundant terpene found in many cannabis cultivars and likely drives the sedative effects of cannabis, especially in conjunction with THC dominant chemovars. Myrcene is also abundant in hops, contributing to the sedative effect beer can have. Known for being highly sedative and analgesic. Can be mood elevating and reduce inflammation. 

 

Aroma: citrus, earthy, wood, spice, herbal, floral, bitter

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Linalool

Monoterpene commonly found in lavender and known for its sedative effects. Linalool is a psychotropic anxiolytic, or anxiotropic compound shown to reduce anxieties. Displaying anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

 

Aroma: floral, sweet, spice, wood

Green Apples

Terpinolene

 Monoterpene associated with the gasoline and cheese aromas in cannabis. Found in apples and frequently used in soaps and perfumes for its fresh yet complex aroma. Possessing antifungal, antibacterial properties and known to be an effective pesticide. It can influence elevated mood and can also promote a feeling of focus, calmness and sedation.

Aroma: herbal, floral, wood, pine, spice, citrus

Green Apples

Terpineol

 Monoterpene alcohol widely used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Terpineol has shown some analgesic and antinociceptive properties.

Aroma: herbal, floral, wood, pine, spice, citrus

Image by Christina Deravedisian

Terpenes

Terpenes are the most basic of essential oils, some of the building blocks of familiar scents like lemon, lavender and pine. These natural, aromatic hydrocarbons are produced by an array of living organisms such as plants (including cannabis); humans, mammals & other animals; insects; reptiles; fungi; algae and bacteria. Like pheromones and hormones, terpenes are produced for communicative purposes; attracting or repelling pests, pollinators and predatory insects or herbivores, as well as, influencing symbiotic relationships between different organisms, soil and plant pH levels and much more.

 

When consumed, terpenes stimulate our Olfactory Nerve, these senses are attributed to by our memories. Aromatic molecules come in and bind with our brain, training our memories to identify the scent, giving us the ability to determine one familiar scent from another. Our individual memory of these molecules help us to determine food likes/dislike, flavour profile differences such as a lemon vs an orange, as well as, influence our overall enjoyment of an experience or even warn us of possible dangers.

 

Incorporating terpenes into your life with or without the use of cannabis can help provide therapeutic benefits through aromatherapy, in food and beverage or even in personal hygiene products like soaps to achieve your desired experience.

We come into contact with thousands of terpenes daily, from walking outside to eating at your favorite restaurant- influencing us everyday, thanks to biological instinct and our developed memory of these compounds. Aroma and our Olfactory senses have played a major roll in our survival as humans and likely contributed to evolutionary biological changes that have helped define us as the species we are. 

 

Through Olfactory Stimulation terpenes can also influence physiological responses in humans such as racing heart, sweating, calmed, relaxed, uplifted, focused, etcetera; although not everyone will experience these the same. Each of our own unique chemistry and experiences can influence how we perceive and interact with the molecules we come into contact with. Olfaction is possibly the most important way we interact with the environment contributing to our bodies physiological responses and likely responsible for 75% gustation, or our sense of taste. Less intensely than the Olfactory Nerve is stimulated, about 70% of odor molecules also stimulate the Trigeminal Nerve, giving us a more in-depth ability to determine dangers and pleasures through chemosensory stimulation from these molecules.

Terpenes are shown to drive the effects of cannabis by modulating the cannabinoids at the blood brain barrier. The affects felt are further determined by our individual chemical, physiological and psychological responses to the cannabinoids and aroma compounds, which can be influenced by our personal experiences, memories, perception, diet, metabolism, physique, medications, health, age and lifestyle.

 

Targeted ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes play a major role in the therapeutic properties of cannabis use but ultimately our bodies' chemistry in conjunction with the chemistry of the cannabinoids and terpenes will determine affect and can vary from one experience to the next, even within the same individual. Varying experiences is especially true with oral cannabis consumption due to the metabolization processes and other factors. 

Terpenes are divided into monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, tetraterpenes, polyterpenes, etc. which is determined by their molecular structures and weight, also determining their volatility, boiling points and functions. There is no difference between a limonene molecule from one plant to the next or another terpene molecule, such as myrcene, from one plant to the next. Terpene molecules themselves are built of isoprene, a hydrocarbon of 5 carbon atoms bound to 8 hydrogen atoms. This means monoterpenes (mono in this case meaning two) are 10 carbon atoms and 16 hydrogen atoms, being made up of 2 isoprene units; sesquiterpenes are made of 3 isoprene units (15 carbon atoms bound to 24 hydrogen atoms); diterpenes are made of 4 isoprene units (20 carbon atoms and 32 hydrogen atoms); triterpenes are 6 isoprene units (30 carbon atoms and 48 hydrogen atoms); tetraterpenes are 8 isoprene units (40 carbon atoms and 54 hydrogen atoms), while polyterpenes (rubber) are built of 1000-5000 isoprene units.

 

The viscosity and volatility of terpenes, or their consistency and rate of evaporation can be presumed by the number of isoprene units contained. Monoterpenes evaporate at lower temperatures with thinner viscosity than the larger and heavier sesquiterpenes or triterpenes with thicker viscosity. This is something to take into consideration when applying heat to food or products that contain terpenes. Terpene molecules are volatile and at varying temperatures evaporate or induce a conversion into another molecular structure causing change in molecular weight, consistency, aroma, effects, etc.

Image by okeykat

Nerolidol

Sesquiterpene alcohol with sedative effects, found in low levels in citrus peel and has shown to be helpful in enhancing skin penetration of Fluorouracil, which can be used to treat skin cancer and shows properties of being a fungal growth inhibitor.

Aroma: citrus, fruity, floral, wood, pine

Image by Jan Piatkowski

Humulene

Sesquiterpene found in hops that shows pronounced anti-inflammatory properties with possible applications for airway allergic inflammation, such as seasonal allergies and asthma.

                                                                  Aroma: spice, woody, bitter, herbal, floral

Image by Bruna Branco

Citral

A mixture of two monoterpene aldehydes, geranial and neral. It can be found naturally in citrus and is used as a flavouring agent, a fragrance and an insecticide. In the proper dosage it has shown to be an immunomodulator, which can contribute to homeostasis and self regulation of the immune system. It also has also been reported to show cytotoxic effect on many cancer cell lines.

                                                   

Aroma: citrus, fruity, floral, herbal

Image by Abby Boggier

Pulgone

Monoterpene. One of the constitutes in peppermint oil, used in the candy industry and in toothpastes for its minty flavor. It can produce sensory irritation and post-ingestion distress, showing potential as a natural avian deterrent in agricultural use.

                                             

Aroma: herbal, spice, menthol, earth, bitter, sweet

Image by Markus Spiske

Ocimene

Monoterpene found in hops and like other monoterpenes shows the ability to inhibit isoprenylation of small G-proteins, which shows promise for cancer treatments.

 

Aroma: earth, herbal, citrus, fruity

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Eucalyptol

Monoterpene found in abundance in eucalyptus. It has shown evidence of being anti-inflammatory and specifically useful for COPD, asthma and other respiratory inflammatory diseases.  

 

Aroma: spice, menthol, herbal, bitter, citrus

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Geraniol

Monoterpene commonly extracted and isolated from cinnamomum tenuipilum in the Laurel family, as well as, valerian and other plants. It is desired and used frequently in the flavor and fragrance industries. Geraniol shows antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antimicrobial properties, also having cardioprotective and neuroprotective effects. It shows greater effect as an insect repellant than citronella.

Aroma: sweet, floral, citrus, herbal, fruit

Cabbage Leaves

Phytol

A diterpene produced from the breakdown of chlorophyll and tocopherol. It can have a relaxing effect much like green tea, playing another factor in the sedative properties of oral cannabis consumption due to the degradation of chlorophyll during infusion process, especially during long, heated processes.

                                                                    Aroma: floral, earth, herbal, bitter, green