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Hemp and Cannabis Terpenes

Hemp and Cannabis Terpenes

In chemistry there are several classes of substances. One of the largest is that of terpenes. These substances can be found in both plants and animals and they do a lot of things. Chances are good you know of one. Turpentine is a terpene derived from distilling pine resin. It’s used for a lot of things including as a solvent. 

There are five classes of terpenes. These classes are made up of various amounts of isoprene and carbon atoms. Isoprene is a byproduct of plant metabolism and is naturally found in the atmosphere.

The terpenes found in cannabis are often found in other plants.

 These terpenes are what provide aroma, flavor and some of the medicinal qualities of the plants. There are around two hundred of them in the cannabis plant, but here are those considered the top ten.


Alpha-humulene:

If you like beer you are probably pretty familiar with this chemical. It is also found in hops and provides a good deal of its flavor. Breweries look for hops with a strong amount of this chemical, especially IPAs. Medically it is considered antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and an appetite suppressant. Other plants that have alpha-humulene include sage, ginseng and ginger.


Limonene:

Cooks love this terpene. It is commonly found, as the name suggests, in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges. The chemical is mostly found in the rind and usually either used fresh, dried or extracted via vodka or other undenatured alcohol. It is responsible for the antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties of cannabis. It can also be used for problems like athlete’s foot and acne.

 

Alpha-pinene:

The smell of Christmas, the scent of a pine forest and all the aromas we associate with evergreens comes from this chemical. It is also found in rosemary. This terpene does a lot of things. It is a natural insecticide; the plants that exude it use it for that purpose. It is also something many asthma patients need; a bronchodilator. Besides these important duties some studies indicate it could be a memory enhancer. People who have or are at risk for dementia may be looking at a breakthrough.


Myrcene:

This is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. It is also found in a large number of other plants, including lemongrass, mangoes, bay laurel, wild thyme, sweet basil and parsley. Like alpha-pinene it has a large number of benefits. Commercially it is used in the perfume industry to enhance the scents of other plants. In the human body studies indicate that it is a pain reliever, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antispasmodic and good for diabetics. Myrcene is the chemical that has helped thousands of children suffering from epilepsy to have a more normal life. It can also help those suffering from insomnia get a good night’s sleep.


Linalool:

Those familiar with this terpene probably associate it most with lavender. It is largely responsible for the scent of that soothing plant. The oil can be found in many others, including cannabis. It is used by the perfume industry and is a must have for aromatherapy. It is considered a calming chemical. It, like alpha-pinene is considered an insecticide. It is similar to myrcene in that it is an anticonvulsant. Those with high blood pressure may find it helpful for its mild hypotensive effect. Linalool can help stop nerve pain and reduce inflammation. It may also help in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.


Beta caryophyllene:

Spices like black pepper have a great deal of this terpene. It can also be found in some beers. Called BCP for short there are many benefits to this chemical. One of its primary actions is to protect the stomach lining. As it is also anti-inflammatory and a pain reliever this can help it replace NSAIDs which can damage delicate gastric tissue. Naturally there is more to the story. This chemical, also found in spices like oregano, could help improve longevity, reduce the breakdown of blood vessels in the brain and lower cholesterol. 


Terpinolene:

As mentioned before turpentine is a terpene. This is one of the chemicals that make up that solvent. It is also found in apple, cumin and tea tree. It is an unusual member of the family because it doesn’t have anti-inflammatory or pain relieving properties. However like the others it shows some benefits in the fight against cancer. It has sedative properties which also benefit those suffering from sleep difficulties caused by chemotherapy. It is antibacterial as well as antifungal and it acts as an antioxidant.


Ocimene:

Besides cannabis ocimene can be found in quite a few other plants. Allspice, orchids, parsley, mint, lavender and basil are just a few. Scientific studies on this terpene have had some interesting results. One study shows that it has some major anti-inflammatory benefits. It also concludes that it is important in the fight against various cancers. Preliminary studies indicate that it is good for candida (yeast) infections and can kill larvae. When dealing with the SARS virus this is another strong contender although more studies need to be conducted.

Eucalyptol:

If this sounds familiar it is. The pungent scent from the eucalyptus tree gets its trademark odor from this terpene. Many herbalists recommend it for coughs, chest congestion and nasal congestion. A study published on PubMed suggests it has many uses for other chronic illnesses. It can help with cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and neurological diseases. Most of its actions are similar to the other terpenes, especially the anti-inflammatory effect. One interesting effect is that it can be used to carry other drugs to the brain by passing the blood/brain barrier.


Geraniol:

This pleasant smelling chemical is often used in the perfume industry. It can be found in roses and geraniums as well as cannabis. It shares the anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and pain relieving factors of the others in its family. It is also called citral and has many other uses. One of them is to reduce the nausea caused by chemotherapy. It can also help heal the gastric lining from damage caused by NSAIDs. It is currently being considered in Europe as a new drug for pain.

The benefits of these chemicals are all available in cannabis. While it can be prepared many ways the fastest way to gain the benefits is by smoking or vaporizing it.


Resources

https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Organic_Chemistry/Supplemental_Modules_(Organic_Chemistry)/Lipids/Properties_and_Classification_of_Lipids/Terpenes
https://terpenesandtesting.com/%CE%B2-myrcene-profile-c10h16/
https://oilhealthbenefits.com/linalool-oil/
https://www.hellomd.com/health-wellness/5ae15d2d049b4f000a64e8e7/know-your-terpenes-beta-caryophyllene
https://mybiohack.com/blog/beta-caryophyllene-cannabinoid-pain-brain
http://theleafonline.com/c/science/2015/01/terpene-profile-terpinolene/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18357554
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26114148
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25026734
https://terpenesandtesting.com/terpene-education-ocimene-c10h16/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27771935
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014299914003252

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