What About Terpenes?

CANNABIS CULTURE – In all the talk about cannabinoids – especially tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – we often forget about all the other phytochemicals cannabis has. I’m speaking of course, about terpenes, the diverse little miracles we’ve just begun to understand. In the following article, we’ll give you a run down of how knowing your “terps” will help you get the best medicine from your cannabis.Yes, there’s loads of other cannabinoids , like cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), but cannabis has a huge number of terpenes as well. In fact, these terpenes – often called “terpenoids” – have a dramatic impact on the effect a particular strain or product has. So much so that, even plants with the same exact cannabinoid profile but a different terpenoid profile will have entirely different effects. Terpenes essentially interact with cannabinoids, producing completely different physiological effects.

In the meantime, here’s a handy table showing you some of the most abundant terpenoids found in the cannabis plant.


Terpenoid Effect Strains
Alpha- and Beta – Pinene – C10H16 Effects include alertness, memory retention and counteracting some of the effects of THC. Useful for asthmatics and as an antiseptic. A high concentration of beta-pinene may induce sleepy effects, as application of heat turns pinene into myrcene. Pinene is also found in dill, parsley, rosemary, pine and many other herbs. Jack Herer, Super Silver Haze (SSH), Neville’s Haze, Chemdawg, Trainwreck, Dutch Treat, Romulan.
Myrcene – C10H16 Myrcene is an antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant. Myrcene is also found in hops, mangoes, lemongrass and thyme. Pure Kush, UK Cheese, Northern Lights, Blueberry, White Widow.
Limonene – C10H16 Limonene may elevate the mood and aid stress relief. Limonene may also help promote weight loss, treat bronchitis, and Phase 1 trials have shown that it may prevent or treat cancer. However, in large doses, limonene may cause some anxiety when combined with THC. Limonene is often found in fruit rind, especially citrus fruits. OG Kush, Lemon Thai.
Beta-Caryophyllene – C15H24 Caryophyllene has use as an antinociceptive (pain blocker), neuroprotective, anxiolytic and antidepressant. Beta-caryophyllene is one of the few non-cannabinoids that seems to have a direct effect on the endocannabinoid system (CB2 receptors), whether it’s in combination with other cannabinoids or not. Beta-caryophyllene is found in black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and black carraway. Super Silver Haze (SSH), Jack Herer, Willie Nelson, Chocolope Haze/Chocolate Thai, Hash Plant, Bubba Kush.
Linalool – C10H18O Linalool is useful for anxiety relief and sedation, and also may have anticonvulsant, antidepressant and anti-acne properties. Lavender, jasmine and many flowers contain linalool. Blueberry, Lavender, Grand Daddy Purple (GDP), G-13, Amnesia Haze.
Humulene – C15H24 Humulene is an antibacterial, antitumoral and anti-inflammatory. Humulene may suppress hunger. Earthy, woody, spicy aromas and flavors are usually associated with humulene, and can be found in herbs and spices such as cloves, basil and hops. Mango Haze, Girl Scout Cookies (GSC), Headband.
Bisabolol – C15H26O Bisabolol has anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, antioxidant, antimicrobial and analgesic properties. Bisabolol is a weak psychoactive, and can be found in chamomile and candeia trees. God Bud, Harle-Tsu, ACDC, Rockstar.
Delta-3 Carene/Carene – C10H16 Delta-3 carene is another piney-/earthy- smelling terpene found in cannabis, and may help stimulate bone growth. Carene may also have use as an anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. Super Lemon Haze, Arjan’s Haze, Skunk #1.
Borneol – C10H18O Borneol may be an analgesic, antiseptic and a bronchodilator. Borneol may also help induce sleep, and could be one of several terpenoids found in cannabis that’s of interest for insomniacs. Borneol has a “minty”, “camphor” smell. K13 and many “haze”-based strains.
Eucalyptol (aka Cineol) – C10H18O Eucalyptol may have potential use as a cough suppressant and antiseptic. Eucalyptol is sometimes used in small amounts as a flavoring in mouthwash. Eucalyptol may also ease pain and lower blood pressure. Eucalyptol may also be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Girl Scout Cookies (GSC), Super Silver Haze (SSH).
Camphene – C10H16 Camphene may be a potent anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. Camphene has a “fuel”-like smell. Mendocino Purps, Ghost OG, Strawberry Banana.
Terpineol – C10H18O Terpineol may have antioxidant, analgesic and painkilling properties. The area where terpineol seems to shine is in the immune system: terpineol may have antibacterial and antiviral properties, and stimulates the immune system. Terpineol has a pleasant smell, and can be found in lilacs. Jack Herer and Jack Herer crosses.
Trans-Nerolidol – C15H26O Trans-nerolidol may have antiparasitic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, and could well inhibit the growth of leishmaniasis – a disease caused by protozoan parasites spread by sandfly bites. Terpineol is often used as an ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics, and can be found in Lapsang Souchong tea. Aurora Indica, Moby Dick, Maui Waui, Moby Dick, Sweet Island Skunk, Sensi Star.
Gingerol – C17H26O4 Gingerol may have antiemetic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. Gingerol is closely related to piperine (C17H19NO3) and Zingiberene (C15H24), and all three are compounds that are often found in ginger, capsaicin, chili and black pepper. Mango Haze, Super Silver Haze (SSH).

Be warned, however: if you’re trying to “hunt” for a specific terpenoid or terpenoids. Depending upon the environment (altitude, soil type, the amount of sunlight, temperature) and phenotype, the same strain of cannabis may produce wildly different terpenoids. The only way you can know the terpenoid content of a particular cannabis strain or product is of it’s been lab-tested. Sadly, this is not commonplace as of yet, but we are sure lab testing will become so as the medical benefits of cannabis are explored more fully.

Bud trimmers, like the Kairos Cultivator, maintain a greater level of terpenes when processing.

Photo courtesy High Times

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Cannabis Culture is an activist magazine dedicated to liberating marijuana, freeing pot-prisoners around the globe, and bringing an end to the vicious worldwide war on drugs.