Introduction

The cannabis industry is in full swing. There are many kinds of products that contain cannabinoids, such as drinks with CBD, gummies or even soaps and shampoos. However, we have recently seen a boom in the consumption and inclusion of terpenes in a wide variety of products. Perhaps you wonder what terpenes are? Well, basically the terpenes are the organic compounds present in a wide variety of plants especially in conifers. Terpenes have a strong odor and they are produced by plants to chase away herbivores. Terpenes are commonly found in conifer resins and they are used as fragrances in perfumery. If we make a list of cannabis terpenes, then we can identify at least 100 of them that have been found in cannabis plants.

In the cannabis industry, terpenes have started to gain more notoriety for their potential therapeutic properties. Nonetheless, we still don’t know to what extent or how terpenes contribute to health improvements. However, we know that certain terpenes can induce states of calmness, euphoria or improve our concentration.

For years, the use of scents and aromas was mainly used in aromatherapy, which is defined as a pseudo-science by the scientific community. This is mainly because we haven’t scientifically proved their effects. In aromatherapy, essential oils are used to improve psychological and physical well-being.

What are cannabis terpenes?

There are more than 20000 different terpenes and at least 100 terpenes have been identified in cannabis. Terpenes give cannabis its characteristic scent. However, not all cannabis strains smell the same way nor have the same terpenes. That’s why the smell varies greatly from one strain to the other.

The terpenes present in cannabis aren’t found exclusively in cannabis. For instance, myrcene, which is one of the most common cannabis terpenes, is also found in fruits such as mangoes, bays or hops.

Some sources claim that cannabis terpenes can intensify the effects of cannabis or mild its effects. For instance, some strains can cause you a profound sleep while some others boost euphoria or have energizing properties on the consumer.

Common Cannabis Terpenes

As previously mentioned, myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. However, there are many other terpenes that are commonly found in cannabis.  Below, a list of cannabis terpenes that are commonly found in most of cannabis strains:

Pinene Terpene

Juniper berries on the branch.  Juniper produces pinene terpenes.
Juniper berries on the branch. Juniper produces pinene terpenes.

As its name indicates, pinene is found in pine trees and other conifers such as juniper. There are two types of pinene terpenes: α-pinene and β-pinene.

α-Pinene

α-Pinene is found in coniferous trees and rosemary. Apparently, α-pinene has anti-inflammatory properties and it is believed to be anti-microbial as well. Furthermore, some sources claim it helps to minimizes the common memory loss reported by many cannabis users.

β-Pinene

β-pinene is the other pinene terpene commonly found in cannabis. It has a woody smell and it’s present in other plants such as cumin, hops, cluster pine and clausena anisata.

Caryophyllene

black peppers produce caryophyllene terpenes
black peppers produce caryophyllene terpenes

Caryophyllene is commonly found in black pepper and clove oil, oregano or lavender. Some sources claim it provides digestive protection, pain relief and also antibacterial properties.

Linalool

Lavender produces linalool terpenes.
Lavender produces linalool terpenes.

Many plant species produce linalool. For instance, mint, citrus fruits, cinnamon, laurel and even birch trees produce linalool. It’s widely used in perfumes and soaps and it has been used as a method for pest control and some sources claim it is efficient as a mosquito repellent.

Lavender also produces linalool it might have potential relaxation and anti-anxiety properties.

Limonene

citrus fruits a source of limonene terpenes.
citrus fruits a source of limonene terpenes.

Limonene is one of the most common terpenes present in cannabis. It is found in citruses fruits. According to webmd, “limonene may block cancer-forming chemicals and kill cancer cells”. Limonene gives cannabis a characteristic citrus smell.

Humulene

Hops are a source of humulene terpenes.
Hops are a source of humulene terpenes.

Humulene or α-caryophyllene is mainly found in hops. Other plants and trees that contain humulene are pine trees, orange orchards, sunflowers and even tobacco. Humulene is being researched for its potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.  

Terpenes and Health Effects

We have previously mentioned that terpenes were mainly used in aromatherapy. Nonetheless, recent studies have found out that terpenes have positive health effects on us. Particularly, terpenes have been found to be useful for their anti-inflammatory properties. Terpenes have been found to reduce lung inflammation and also neuroinflammation.

In addition, terpenes have been researched for their potential antitumorigenic properties. For instance, limonene has been found to reduce the proliferation of human gastric cancer cells. Moreover, α-Pinene has been researched for its anti-metastatic properties in melanomas.

Myrcene, which is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, has also been studied for its cancer-inhibition properties. Myrcene has a cytotoxic effect on many tumors such as breast carcinoma, human cervical carcinoma, human lung carcinoma, human colon adenocarcinoma and leukemia.  

Terpenes and Vaping

It’s not well-known how terpenes can interact to induce positive health effects on us. However, some sources claim that smoking (plant combustion) destroys many terpenes. Furthermore, terpenes have their own optimal temperature, that’s why smoking might destroy many terpenes present in your cannabis. On the other hand, vaping preserves many of these terpenes, especially if we can control the temperature to vaporize the cannabis solution.

As terpenes are highly reactive molecules, it’s still now well-known to what extent heating, smoking or vaping affect them. In other words, we need more research about terpenes to fully address their properties.

Conclusion

This article gives a list of cannabis terpenes that are commonly found in most of cannabis strains. Terpenes have been used for decades in aromatherapy and they are currently researched for their anti-inflammatory and even anti-carcinogenic and anti-metastatic properties. Nonetheless, we still need more information to draw conclusions about their properties and positive health effects.