A GUIDE TO PRIMARY AND SECONDARY CANNABIS TERPENES
A quick and easy explanation of cannabis terpenes
WHAT ARE CANNABIS TERPENES?
If you have ever wondered why one cannabis plant carries the scent of citrus or pine while another carries the scent of berry or mint, the answer is in the terpene profile. Terpenes are, essentially, the aromatic oils that are secreted by the cannabis plant, and most likely evolved to attract pollinators. On another level, terpenes hold great medicinal value. While some are known to create calm and reduce stress, others can reduce pain and inflammation. While the differences may be subtle, they are not insignificant. Growers and cultivators of cannabis know that these distinctions have a powerful influence on the medicinal value of any given plant.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY CANNABIS TERPENES
While primary terpenes largely influence how any individual plant smells, and effect a plant’s growth and development, secondary terpenes aid the plant’s defense. Whereas the unique aroma carried by each cannabis plant is a product of the primary terpenes present within the plant, the medicinal value of any given cannabis strain is a product of both primary and secondary terpenes combined. As you can imagine, through careful cultivation, the medicinal potential of cannabis is great.
THE PRIMARY CANNABIS TERPENES:
BISABOLOL: Commonly found in German chamomile and the South American candeia tree, Bisabolol is known for its mild sweet and floral, citrus aroma. This cannabis terpene is believed to contribute to the soothing effects of cannabis. While it acts as an antioxidant, the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of Bisabolol make it a useful treatment for skin conditions.
ALPHA-PINENE & BETA-PINENE: Pinine is a cannabis terpene which is thought to increase mental focus and energy. In addition, it can act as a topical antiseptic and a bronchodilator, making it a good option for asthmatics. Finally, pinine is an effective pain-reliever, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and may help in slowing the growth of cancer cells, and increase memory retention.
BORNEOL: Also called moxa in traditional Chinese medicine, Borneol is a terpene in cannabis that can be used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, lower anxiety, and cure heart disease. In addition, recent research has uncovered borneol’s potential as an antioxidant, neuroprotectant, and drug potentiator.
EUCALYPTOL: Also found in tea tree, cardamom, rosemary, sage and bay leaves, the cannabis terpene Eucalyptol is best known for its effects on pain and inflammation. Additionally, scientists are now finding that Eucalyptol may also be a powerful antifungal, antibacterial, insecticide, and antioxidant.
CAMPHENE: Commonly used in cannabis based creams, salves and lotions, the cannabis terpene Camphene is particularly useful in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Believed to have anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties, it can also be found in nutmeg, rosemary, and ginger among other botanicals.
CARYOPHYLLENE: Caryophyllene (or β-Caryophyllene), found in high concentrations in oregano, basil, hops, and rosemary, is a spicy, peppery terpene. In addition to anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, this terpene can also help reduce alcohol cravings, fight cancer, and reduce anxiety and depression.
DELTA 3 CARENE: Delta 3 Carene is a cannabis terpene known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. As a result, it is a good option for individuals with inflammatory diseases such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. Also found in rosemary, basil, cedar, and bell pepper, Delta 3 Carene has an earthy aroma and mild citrusy flavor.
GERANIOL: Naturally occuring in geraniums, roses, and lemon grass, among other flowers and vegetables, Geraniol is known for its antioxidant, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, scientific evidence suggests that the natural antioxidant properties of this terpene can discourage cell growth in a number of cancers.
HUMULENE: Naturally occuring in basil, clove,and hops, the terpene Humulene carries a subtle spicy, earthy, aroma. Unlike other terpenes, Humulene is an appetite suppressant, but like other terpenes it contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties.
LIMONENE: Also present in fruit rinds, Limonene is a cannabis terpene known for its fruity, citrus aroma. In addition to elevating mood and decreasing anxiety, studies have shown that Limonene may also have antifungal and antibacterial properties, as well as help to increase absorption of other terpenes.
LINALOOL: Most widely used to reduce stress and anxiety and elevate mood, the cannabis terpene Linalool naturally occurs in lavender, coriander and other herbs and spices. A natural anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, and analgesic, Linalool has been used for centuries in medicine.
MYRCENE: Known as an analgesic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and sedative cannabis terpene, Myrcene (or β-myrcene) can be found in mangoes, thyme, lemongrass, and basil among other fruits and herbs.
OCIMENE: Known for its antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, decongestant, and antibacterial properties, Ocimene naturally occurs in mint, parsley, and basil, among other fruits and herbs. An isomeric hydrocarbon, it is associated with a sweet, fragrant, and woodsy aroma.
TERPINEOL: Naturally occuring in pine trees, lilacs, lime blossoms, and eucalyptus sap, Terpineol is a powerful relaxant which is believed to contribute to sedative qualities of cannabis. In addition to the calming effects of this cannabis terpene, it is also believed to carry antibiotic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
TERPINOLENE: The cannabis terpene Terpinolene is an isomeric hydrocarbon which can be found in a variety of plants including tea tree, nutmeg, apples, and cumin. Known for its floral, piney aroma, Terpinolene is a natural antioxidant, sedative, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and antifungal agent.
VALENCENE: Pulling its name from Valencia Oranges, the cannabis terpene Valencene has a citrusy sweet aroma and flavor. In addition to being a natural insect repellent, Valencene is also believed to have anti-inflammatory, and insecticidal properties.
THE SECONDARY CANNABIS TERPENES:
CAMPHOR: The main active ingredient in Vicks Vaporub™, Camphor has been used for centuries to numb pain, clear sinuses, and increase circulation. When applied topically, this cannabis terpene helps to ease localized pain quickly.
CEDRENE: Derived from cedar trees, the cannabis terpene Cedrene ( also known as Alpha-Cedrene) is known for its antiseptic and diuretic properties. With a woody, sweet aroma, Cedrene is also believed to contain expectorant, and anti-fungal properties.
CYMENE: Commonly found in thyme and cumin, the cannabis terpene Cymene is well known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Recent research suggests that Cymene may significantly increase the amount of time it takes to feel pain by modulating the user’s opioid system.
FENCHOL: Found commonly in basil, and boasting a woody, piney aroma, the cannabis terpene Fenchol (as fenchyl alcohol) is best known for its antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.
GERANYL ACETATE: With a fruity, floral scent, Geranyl Acetate is a cannabis terpenoid which is believed to have antimicrobial properties when combined with other terpenoids.
GUAIOL: Also found in cypress pine and guaiacum, the terpene Guaiol is known for its anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, Guaiol has been used for centuries in the treatment of illnesses ranging from arthritis to constipation to coughs.
ISOBORNEOL: Know for its musty, sweet flavor, the cannabis terpene Isoborneol contains anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. Also found in mugwort, it has been found that Isoborneol inhibits the herpes simplex 1 virus.
ISOPULEGOL: The chemical precursor to menthol, Isopulegol is a powerful relaxant which has been shown to be effective in the treatment of chronic seizures. Additionally, researchers have found that it contains powerful gastroprotective properties
MENTHOL: A common cannabis terpene, Menthol is known to reduce cough and suppress respiratory irritation naturally. Topically, menthol is a natural analgesic, effective in the treatment of pain.
NEROLIDOL: With a distinctive woody aroma, the cannabis terpene Nerolidol is a natural sleep aid, and anti-fungal agent. Additionally, recent studies have shown Nerolidol to be clinically effective in the treatment of skin lesions.
PHELLANDRENE: Known for its distinct minty aroma, the cannabis terpene Phellandrene is known to reduce pain sensitivity and increase energy levels. This said, more research is needed to determine the full therapeutic value of Phellandrene
PHYTOL: Also found in green tea, the terpenoid Phytol is known to reduce pain and relieve inflammation. A promising terpene, recent studies have shown that Phytol may have strong antioxidant properties and “inhibit inflammatory response by reducing cytokine production and oxidative stress.”
PULEGONE: With a tell-tale peppermint aroma, and also found in catnip and pennyroyal, the cannabis terpene Pulegone is known for its strong insecticidal properties.
SABINENE: Known for its spicy, oakey aroma, Sabinene is a cannabis terpene which has been shown to benefit liver function and digestion, as well as relieve arthritis, and treat skin conditions.
TERPINENE: Also found in allspice and carrying a piney aroma, Terpinene is the term for a group of four terpenes. Studies to date have found that, while offering powerful sedative effects that are effective in the treatment of insomnia, Terpinene may also inhibit cancer cell proliferation and reduce cancer risk.
TRANS-NEROLIDOL: Also found in tea tree, jasmine, and lemongrass, the cannabis terpene Trans-Nerolidol is widely know for its sedative qualities. That said, current research is also evaluating its potential anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial properties.