If you follow Health for Life Maryland on social media, you’re probably familiar with our Terpene Tuesday shout outs. But what exactly is a terpene? Believe it or not, you’ve actually been exposed to terpenes your whole life. In the simplest terms, terpenes are chemicals that determine how things smell and taste. Terpenes appear in fruits, plants, and herbs; they are what gives lemon a citrus taste, lavender its relaxing effects, and pine needles their potent scent. Terpenes are also the fragrant oils secreted in cannabis flower’s sticky resin glands and are responsible for the diverse flavor, aroma, and unique feeling you experience with your favorite cannabis strain.
Cannabis plants have over 120 identified terpenes that range dramatically in their aromas, each responsible for different smells like notes of pepper, fruit, and flowers (i). Terpenes interact with a person’s body chemistry when sniffed or inhaled, and they play a significant role in the therapeutic and medicinal use of cannabis. When choosing a cannabis flower or concentrate, it’s important to sample the strain by smelling it first, as your reaction to the scent is a good indication of how that particular strain will work with your body chemistry.
Sativa terpenes are more stimulating and typically smell bright and have strong citrus notes. The citrus smell comes from the terpene limonene, which is found in lemons. Limonene is responsible for the uplifted feeling typically found in Sativa-dominant strains. Limonene also helps stimulate the immune system and protects the GI tract. Terpenes associated with Indica strains are alpha and beta-pinene, which are found in pine trees. Pinene has great anti-inflammatory properties, which helps with the pain-relieving aspects of cannabis. Linalool is also predominant in Indica strains. This floral terpene is to thank for the sedative effect in lavender (ii).
Here are some common terpenes and the benefits associated with each (i):
Linalool: commonly found in lavender. Linalool helps provide anxiety relief, sedation, and pain relief.
Myrcene: commonly found in mango, lemongrass, thyme, and hops. Myrcene helps provide muscle tension relief, anti-inflammation, and produces a soothing effect.
Limonene: commonly found in fruit rinds and peppermint. Limonene can be used to treat gastrointestinal complications, heartburn, and depression. It acts as an antifungal, antibacterial, anti-carcinogen, dissolves gallstones, and enhances mood.
Pinene: commonly found in pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley, and dill. Pinene is useful for alertness, memory retention, antiseptic, and counteracts some THC effects.
Caryophyllene: commonly found in black pepper, cloves, and cotton. Caryophyllene is a gastroprotective and has anti-inflammatory properties.
If all this terpene talk has stimulated your senses, stop into our Baltimore, Bethesda, or White Marsh locations, and take a sniff for yourself! Do you know what always smells sweet? Our daily deals, check them out!
Want to learn more about terpenes? This whiteboard explainer will help you understand how terpenes impact how you experience CBD, Cannabis, and Hemp. LEARN MORE HERE.
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