Terpenes are a vast expanse of compounds whose true potential is just now being explored. Research is just starting to show that beyond the aromatic properties of terpenes, there are uses for them in medical, cosmetic, and therapeutic applications as well.
In part one of our terpene series, we will take a look at 5 common terpenes: Myrcene, Limonene, Linalool, Caryophyllene, and Pinene.
Let’s take a closer look and uncover some unique aspects of these common terpenes you may not have known about:
Well known for its high prevalence in cannabis, Myrcene has a unique aroma – earthy and slightly fruity; musky and clove-like when present in large amounts. It’s associated with cannabis due to its pervasiveness in the resins secreted by the plant. Myrcene is also found in high concentration in the skin of mangoes as well as in herbs such as lemongrass and thyme. Myrcene is believed to have sedative and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as the potential to aid in the relief of chronic pain.
Limonene has a smell akin to lemon or lemon zest. Limonene is also commonly found in varieties of cannabis sativa and has been shown to be a potential mood booster when used in aromatherapy. In a clinical setting, Limonene has been shown to reduce tumor size, as well as having anti-fungal and anti-bacterial uses in concentrated applications.
This terpene is floral, musky, and spicy. It’s used in scents like Bergamot and French Lavender and is a standby in the world of cosmetics and aromatherapy because of the calming, sedative qualities of its smell. Some secondary effects of Linalool that may have use in the medical world include relief from arthritis, depression, seizures, insomnia, and even cancer.
Beta-caryophyllene has a spicy, peppery aroma, close to the smell of black peppercorns. Recent studies have identified that Beta-caryophyllene binds directly to CB2 receptors in the brain, suggesting a potential synergy with cannabinoids. Additional studies have shown it to be potentially useful in alcohol rehabilitation, as mice treated with a CB2 receptor inhibitor showed a reduced tendency to voluntarily consume alcohol.
Alpha-Pinene / Beta-Pinene
These twin terpenes have a rich, powerful pine aroma and these compounds can be found in a wide variety of plants, most notably pine trees. Smaller amounts of pinene can be found in common herbs like rosemary and basil as well. Pinene has been studied as a treatment for crohn’s disease, and has the potential to help regulate gastrointestinal issues. Pinene has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and is thought to help improve respiratory function.
This is the end of our first list, but we’ll be posting more soon. This three-part series is just a short look of some of the more well-known terpenes; scientists are still looking at the ways this powerhouse molecule can have a positive impact on the plants we grow, and ourselves. We’ll see you for part two!