With growing research, we are becoming more familiar with cannabis and its cannabinoids. The recreational use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been documented for years. And now with medical research surrounding the cannabis plant, many are aware of its medicinal value. Add further cannabinoids into the mix, such as cannabidiol (CBD), the potential offerings from these cannabis molecules is a mouth-watering prospect. But the plant’s offerings do not stop there, cannabis terpenes are an exceptional source of alternative medicine.

There is a range of cannabis oils on the market for sale, such as full spectrum and broad spectrum extracts. You can also purchase CBD oils that are isolate based. Many come with the natural cannabis terpenes, however, due to many cannabis extraction techniques, the terpenes are often lost during the process, leaving only cannabinoids that are mixed with a carrier oil.

What are terpenes?

Within the world of cannabis cultivation, there are a variety of strains. Regardless of the cannabinoid content, each breed offers its own aroma, and this is determined by its natural terpenes. They are essential oils that are responsible for much of the aromas offered by nature. Besides cannabis, terpenes are bountiful throughout nature and can be found in a wide range of herbs, fruits, and plants. When you combine these natural compounds with cannabis’s molecules, you induce what is known as the “entourage effect”. It’s these aromatic compounds that produce different scents from different cannabis strains, known as the terpene profile.

Among natures gardens, there are more than 20,000 different terpenes and over 100 among the cannabis family. Terpenes play a vital role in nature by discouraging herbivores, protecting plants during high temperatures, and attracting pollinators. Furthermore, they offer medicinal value to its mammal prey.

It is these aromatic compounds that are entirely responsible for cannabis’s scent. In fact, police dogs are trained to smell for terpenes and not cannabinoids.

How do terpenes work?

Just as cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system, terpenes bind to our receptors and neurotransmitters. They also mimic our bodies compounds; aiding with the regulation of our moods, assisting with weight control, and they also provide our immune system with a healthy boost.

As terpenes are abundant in nature and were never outlawed like cannabis, we know so much more about terpenes and their medicinal value than we do about cannabinoids. Due to the fact that cannabis-based products often lose their natural terpenes, it is fortunate that we can replace them from common foods.

What are the benefits of cannabis terpenes and where can you find them in common foods?

Even if you are averse to cannabis, or if you are consuming cannabis products without terpenes but you want to boost your immune system, you are in luck as terpenes are a common part of the plant world in bountiful proportions. If you already maintain a balanced and healthy diet, you are most definitely consuming a variety of terpenes on a regular basis.

The most terpene rich fruits are tomatoes, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, limes, lemon, and mango. As for vegetables and herbs, they are abundant in spinach, cabbage, eggplant, broccoli, laurel, thyme, cumin, rosemary, cinnamon, basil, and mint. They can also be found in olive oil and hops. That’s right, beer drinkers are also topping up their terpene intake!

Here is a rundown of the major cannabis terpenes, along with their benefits and what foods you can easily purchase that are packed with terpenes:

Alpha-Pinene

This terpene is found in pine needles and a variety of herbs that include:

  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary

Its medical benefits are quite diverse and either treat or assist the following:

  • Asthma
  • Pain
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Ulcers
  • Memory retention
  • Increase alertness

Myrcene

The most common terpene in cannabis that possesses a musky and earthy aroma. It has a close relationship with cannabinoids. Myrcene can increase the “high” effects of THC, even from non-cannabis foods and is found in:

  • Mango
  • Thyme
  • Lemongrass
  • Hops

On a medicinal level, myrcene can help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Pain

Limonene

Offering a citric aroma and found in:

  • Citric fruits (packed in lemons)
  • Peppermint
  • Juniper
  • Rosemary

Once again, one of natures finest medicines that aids or treats:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Beta-Caryophyllene

Found in a few of natures offerings:

  • Black Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves

Another terpene that highlights just why the plant world can help keep a healthy mindset, aiding the treatment of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Ulcers
  • Pain

Linalool

One of the scarcest of terpenes but easily available to purchase in a range of products, linalool is found in:

  • Lavender

Linalool offers powerful aid for a variety of treatments, such as:

  • Inflammation
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Insomnia
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Humulene

Possessing an earthy and wooden aroma, Humulene can be  found in:

  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Hops

And it also treats:

  • Inflammation

Ocimene

This terpene offers a wonderful aroma that is sweet and woody, and can be obtained by eating:

  • Kumquats
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Pepper
  • Mango
  • Basil

It also offers a variety of benefits in the medical world, is it acts as:

  • Antifungal
  • Antibacterial
  • Decongestant
  • Antiseptic
  • Antiviral

Terpinolene

Possessing a piney and floral aroma, and a slight sedative. Terpinolene comes in a wide range of plants and also found in:

  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary
  • Cumin
  • Apples

Terpene vs. Terpenoid

To conclude, we must highlight the difference between a terpene and a terpenoid. Although they are related, terpenes are hydrocarbons, an organic compound that is present in the plant; whereas a terpenoid is an oxygenated derivative of a terpene. Once dried and cured, the molecules transform from terpene to terpenoid. Not only is there a molecular shift, but also within the present aroma.

Due to the aromatic qualities of terpenoids, they tend to be used to create perfumes, spices, and essential oils.

Shaun Dillon
Shaun is a writer, journalist, editor, and marketing specialist with over five years of dedication to the cannabis industry. His mission is to educate the masses to the benefits of the medical marvel that is cannabis; as well as to play a role with the progressive movement that is to destigmatize the plant. As well as work with various publications, he also assists European retails stores to remain compliant and market their products in an efficient manner.

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