What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (2022)

Terpenes and the bodyDo terpenes degrade overtime?Alternative sources of terpenesTerpenes present in cannabis


About terpenes and the body


More and more people are interested in cannabis molecules called terpenes, which not only give cannabis its signature scent but may even have health benefits. Here’s a closer look at what terpenes do, and how they may aid in symptom management:


What are terpenes?

If you feel like “terpene” sounds a lot like “turpentine,” you’re on the right track. In the mid-1800s, scientists studied strong-smelling turpentine to try and find the source of its aromatic properties. Eventually, they discovered its odour-making molecules and named them “terpenes,” a word we continue to use today as the collective noun to describe over 15,000 different fragrant compounds found in nature, including cannabis.

Resembling broken honeycombs with pentagon-like molecules, all terpenes are made up of varying combinations of five carbon molecules and eight hydrogen molecules, called isoprenes. This is why you may come across words like monoterpene (C₁₀H₁₆), sesquiterpene (C15H24), and diterpene (C20H32). Some terpenes may even have the same number of molecules but different structural configurations, known as isomers for the science-minded. For example, alpha-Pinene and beta-Pinene are made up of the same molecules and even smell similar to each other, but not quite the same, because of how they’re built.

Plants, insects, and even some animals produce terpenes that function like aromatic radio signals to communicate with the world around them. In plants, terpenes can help repel predators, attract pollinators, and even send a message to the enemy of their enemy. When spider mites attack the lima bean plant, it releases a specific terpene to attract an insect that preys on the offending mites.

What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (1)What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (2)

Cannabis terpenes are mostly found within microscopic frosty hairs covering the flower buds and surrounding leaves, called trichomes. Resembling little mushrooms under a microscope, trichomes manufacture a heady cocktail of cannabinoids and terpenes. The larger and more numerous the trichomes, the more abundant the terpenes in a given cannabis plant. However, depending on how cannabis is harvested and manufactured, the resulting product may retain many of the plant’s terpenes or none at all.

Cannabis produces hundreds of terpenes in almost endless combinations, which is why each cannabis strain has its own unique smell, from sweet candy to stinky cheese. While many people assume cannabinoids THC or CBD are responsible for a strain’s scent, these compounds are in fact odourless—the taste and smell of cannabis are evidence of terpenes at work. And while THC and CBD can be influenced by environmental factors such as humidity and sunlight, terpenes are primarily inherited, and unchanged by external factors. This makes terpene composition a more reliable indicator of a plant’s origin than cannabinoid percentage, strain name or Indica/Sativa/hybrid classification. But because Health Canada does not require cannabis companies to list terpenes on the label, at this point, it’s rare to see a breakdown of these compounds on cannabis products.

How do terpenes work in the body?

No longer simply regarded as a pleasant by-product of cannabis, terpenes are emerging as heavyweights in a patient’s search for symptom management. While scientists are just starting to understand the role terpenes play in conjunction with other cannabis compounds, often referred to as the entourage effect, they do help explain why a patient’s subjective experience can change from one strain to another. For example, imagine sampling chicken soup from every home in your neighbourhood: same basic soup, but different ingredients, and a unique taste experience from one house to the next.

We know THC and CBD stimulate cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body through a lock-and-key mechanism. However, the role terpenes play in the overall effect cannabis has on the body is not so easily understood. Some studies have demonstrated terpenes as having little to no effect on cannabinoid receptors, except for beta-Caryophyllene. However, other studies have shown that terpenes stimulate different receptors within the body, which may have a cascading effect on how the body responds to THC and CBD. In other words, terpenes appear to have an indirect influence on our cannabinoid receptors, although the research is still young. Terpenes may also mimic the effects of THC or CBD through other bodily systems. For example, the terpene beta-Myrcene has a known sedative effect, and its presence in cannabis can make the product feel more potent in THC than it is.

Is there a difference between inhaling terpenes and ingesting terpenes?

There are multiple studies on the observed effects of inhaled terpenes, from anxiety and depression to pain management and even memory recall. While these studies were conducted with terpenes from non-cannabis sources, experts know how inhaled terpenes behave in the bloodstream. What we don’t yet know for sure is how the human body metabolizes terpenes when ingested. For example, when the stomach and liver metabolize the cannabinoid THC, it changes from delta-9 to delta-11 THC, which is more effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier. Early studies and animal trials on ingested terpenes are emerging, but definitive science on human implications is yet to be determined.

What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (3)What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (4)


Do terpenes degrade over time?


Think of the difference between fresh rosemary and the dried variety in your spice rack: one has a multidimensional aroma, while the other is more subtle and flat. Cannabis terpenes in dried flower form are no different: loss begins at harvest when cannabis flower is trimmed and dried. One study found that while monoterpenes quickly degraded after harvest, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes and triterpenes remained mostly intact, and some even increased. This isn’t to say monoterpenes disappeared altogether, but they were the most sensitive to the drying process and degraded more quickly. However, like any dried herb, the terpenes in cannabis flower will slowly degrade over time.

(Video) Cardiol Therapeutics CEO Discusses Supplier Agreement with Medical Cannabis by Shoppers


Alternative sources of terpenes


What are exogenous terpenes?

There are terpene-only products on the market that are not regulated under the Cannabis Act as they are not made from cannabis. Called “exogenous” terpenes because they’re made from external sources such as hops (a close botanical cousin to cannabis), they’re often marketed as complementary products to cannabis for a more robust, full-spectrum experience. However, patients should be cautious that exogenous terpenes are not as heavily monitored and regulated as cannabis products. If you have questions about adding exogenous terpenes to your treatment plan, reach out to our Shoppers Cannabis Care team via our online form, or reach out to your healthcare professional.

Are essential oils the same as terpenes?

While terpenes make up most of the compounds found within essential oils, they are not the only molecules present. In its most basic form, an essential oil is the liquid concentration of a particular plant; its “essence”, according to the ancient Greeks who coined the term. A cold-pressed lavender essential oil, for example, will contain a mix of terpenes and other phytochemicals that reside in the lavender plant itself. But a product of pure Linalool—the floral terpene responsible for most of lavender’s scent—would not only smell different than lavender essential oil because it lacks the other components, it would be considered an exogenous terpene.

What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (5)What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (6)

(Video) Medical Cannabis: What Research is Revealing | Arthritis Talks


Terpenes present in cannabis


While cannabis was largely prohibited from study until recently, researchers have been able to analyze individual terpenes for nearly two centuries. Below is a list of observed effects in some of the terpenes found in cannabis; however, keep in mind that all the components of cannabis work synergistically together.

What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (7)What are Terpenes? | Medical Cannabis by Shoppers (8)

Myrcene: The most abundant terpene found in cannabis and many varieties of hops used in beer, both Myrcene and beta-Myrcene have demonstrated sedative effects when paired with THC and CBD. Also found in mangos, tea tree, celery, lemongrass and cardamom, herbal and earthy myrcene may also help with:

  • Pain relief

  • Inflammation

  • Sleep

  • Muscle relaxation

  • Neuroprotection

OG Kush, White Widow Wedding Cake by Spinach, and AQ-20+ THC-MOC Cold Creek Kush from Aqualitas are cannabis strains/cultivars known to be high in Myrcene.

Limonene: Readily found throughout the plant kingdom, Limonene is common in cannabis as well as all citrus fruits, juniper and dill. Anecdotal evidence suggests Limonene-rich cannabis improves one’s mood, plus the terpene may also help with:

(Video) Unboxing Medical Cannabis by Shoppers - From Redecan

  • Inflammation

  • Anxiety

  • Pain management and sensitivity to pain

  • Acne

  • Gastric reflux

Berry White, Durban Poison and AQ-Balance-OLC God Bud X by Aqualitas are cannabis strains/cultivars known to be high in Limonene.

Alpha-Pinene: The most common terpene in nature, woodsy alpha-pinene is far more abundant in cannabis than its isomer, beta-pinene. The very first terpene discovered inside fragrant turpentine, there is some evidence alpha-pinene helps with memory, and anecdotal observations suggest cannabis with alpha-pinene produces fewer unwanted side effects, such as memory loss. It may also help with:

  • Inflammation

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Memory

LA Confidential, Bubba Kush and Blue Dream by Pure Sunfarms are cannabis strains/cultivars known to be high in alpha-Pinene.

Beta-Caryophyllene: Also found in black pepper, cloves and cinnamon, spicy beta-Caryophyllene is the only known terpene to bind with a cannabinoid receptor, namely CB2 receptors that are found throughout the body (CB1 receptors are mostly concentrated in the brain). Anecdotal evidence suggests CBD-rich strains high in beta-Caryophyllene may help manage the symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as arthritis. This terpene may also help with:

  • Inflammation

  • Pain management

  • Stomach irritation

    (Video) Cardiol Therapeutics signs supply agreement with Medical Cannabis by Shoppers

Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel and Organic Rockstar Tuna by The Green Organic Dutchman are cannabis strains/cultivars known to be high in beta-Caryophyllene.

Linalool: Found abundantly in lavender, Linalool is also commonly found in cannabis in addition to basil and bergamot, the main ingredient in Earl Grey tea. Cannabis with Linalool has anecdotally helped with the symptoms of anxiety, plus the terpene itself may also help with:

Amnesia Haze, Zkittlez and Wappa by Zenabis are strains/cultivars with high levels of Linalool.

Alpha-Humulene: An isomer of beta-Caryophyllene, this terpene is also known as alpha-Caryophyllene but was formally named after the hops plant, Humulus lupulus, where it’s found in abundance. This earthy, skunky, hoppy scent is also present in evergreen trees, ginger and sage. Humulene is a known antibacterial agent, as it famously kept English beer from spoiling in the 19th century while en route to India, giving rise to hoppy India Pale Ale. Humulene has been observed to have anti-inflammatory effects, and may also be an appetite suppressant.

Nerolidol: While not typically found in high concentrations in cannabis, nerolidol is also present in peels of citrus fruits, corn and tomatoes. This terpene has been found to help with sleep and is well absorbed by the skin, which may prove useful in topical cannabis products.

Geraniol: The abundant terpene in geraniums and roses, geraniol is also the main ingredient in citronella oil used to repel mosquitos. This terpene has been shown to be an effective antimicrobial, which is why it’s commonly used in naturally-derived cleaners. It may also help with inflammation and diabetic neuropathy.

Borneol: A woodsy terpene also found in camphor, mint and rosemary, studies of borneol have demonstrated it may be a drug potentiator, meaning it intensifies the effects of other drugs. It may also help with inflammation and pain management.

Terpinolene: Another terpene that may enhance the sedative effects of THC, terpinolene is commonly found in cannabis as well as pine trees, parsnips, sage and apples. It has also been found to have antioxidant qualities.

Alpha-Bisabolene: This lesser-known terpene is actually quite common in cannabis, albeit in low concentrations. It can also be found in opoponax, also known as sweet myrrh, and is being studied for its potential in cancer treatments.

Delta 3 Carene: A component of turpentine, this terpene is being studied in conjunction with bone growth, yet is also considered a mild irritant.

Guaiol: This woodsy, rose-smelling terpene is also found in cypress trees and guaiacum plants. There are fewer studies on guaiol than other terpene, though it shows promise in the management of symptoms of inflammation.

Ocimene: Grassy and sweet-smelling ocimene is also found in marigolds, parsley and basil, and named after the genus name for basil, Ocimum. Thought to have antimicrobial properties, this terpene is the one that some plants emit when under attack, as with the lima bean and spider mites, to attract another predator.

(Video) Unboxing Medical Cannabis from Shoppers - D Bubba Pure Sunfarms

Farnesene: This lesser-known terpene is also sometimes present in hops, and described as having a woody, floral aroma. Also found in apple peel, farnesene can impart a green apple scent to cannabis. It’s thought to have a calming effect on the body and have some anti-inflammatory properties.

FAQs

What do terpenes do for your high? ›

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is a cannabinoid, not a terpene. Cannabinoids and terpenes are different. Therefore, terpenes affect the body by producing certain psychoactive effects, like calming and relieving pain; however, terpenes are not responsible for getting you high.

What are terpenes give an example? ›

Terpenes are highly aromatic compounds that determine the smell of many plants and herbs, such as rosemary and lavender, as well as some animals. Manufacturers use isolated terpenes to create the flavors and scents of many everyday products, such as perfumes, body products, and even foods.

Are terpenes good for you? ›

This plant contains many medicinal properties like anticancer, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antihyperglycemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiparasitic (Franklin et al. 2001). Terpene is also used to enhance skin penetration, prevent inflammatory diseases (Franklin et al. 2001).

Do terpenes have side effects? ›

It is important to specify normal concentrations, as some terpenes can cause irritation, allergic reaction, nausea, headache, and/or acute toxic effects at very high doses - but these doses are much higher than you would ever consume in the course of using cannabis products, even if you're having a particularly lifted ...

How do terpenes make you feel? ›

Terpenes won't make you feel high in the traditional sense. Still, some are considered to be psychoactive, because they affect the brain. While terpenes aren't intoxicating on their own, some think they may impact the effects of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the high feeling from cannabis.

What terpene gives you energy? ›

Limonene counts as the best terpene for energy because it modulates adenosine receptors, and these receptors are responsible for kickstarting the release of dopamine and increasing serotonin levels.

What strains have the highest terpenes? ›

Highest Terpene Strains
  • Marionberry. This strain comes in at just over 3% terpenes. ...
  • Sour Diesel. Sour diesel is sativa-dominant, and is a cross between Super Skunk and Chemdawg. ...
  • Dutch Treat. The primary terpene in Dutch Treat is terpinolene. ...
  • Fire Alien Strawberry. ...
  • Bruce Banner.
18 Aug 2021

What terpenes are sativa? ›

Sativas tend to contain a higher concentration of terpenes such as pinene and limonene that can create an uplifting, euphoric “high” experience. They also have a low concentration of terpenes such as myrcene, which is found frequently in indica strains and is considered to have sedative effects.

What is considered a high terpene percentage? ›

High-terpene full-spectrum extracts are usually composed of roughly 50% THCA and anywhere from 13% to 40% terpenes, depending on the composition of the starting plant material. Depending on their overall texture, HTFSE can sometimes be called Sauce.

What foods are high in terpenes? ›

Since terpenes are naturally found in many plants, it makes sense that there are terpenes in some of our food. Mangoes, Apples, Citrus Fruits, several Spices, Broccoli, and Beer all contain terpenes.

Does CBD oil contain terpenes? ›

CBD oil is just one of the plethora of natural products containing terpenes. In fact, you don't need to be familiar with cannabis to consume terpenes — they are present in virtually any plant out there, including herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Can terpenes damage lungs? ›

Inhaling pure, concentrated terpenes can cause damage and irritation to the lungs and may cause further damage once absorbed into the bloodstream. Some terpenes are directly toxic as well — such as benzene or methacrolein.

How do terpenes affect the brain? ›

Limonene is responsible for increasing serotonin levels which influences how weed affects our mood. That means these terpenes can influence neurotransmitters in our brain which entails that different strains may have different effects on our mood.

What terpene makes you giggly? ›

For example, myrcene is a terpene that has been associated with giggly feelings. Limonene and pinene are also in this category. If these terpenes are in high percentages in a given cannabis strain, it becomes one of the giggle weeds.

What terpenes make you happy? ›

What terpenes are uplifting? Limonene, pinene, and ocimene are known to have uplifting effects. Terpene blends such as limonene, myrcene, and beta-caryophyllene can also offer mental euphoria and help relax the body without causing drowsiness or couch-lock.

Which terpene is best for me? ›

What Terpenes Should I Buy?
  • Best terpenes for sleep — linalool, myrcene, nerolidol.
  • Best terpenes for Inflammation — bisabolol, borneol, linalool, myrcene, pinene, terpineol, nerolidol.
  • Best stimulating Terpenes — geraniol, pinene, limonene, valencine.
  • Best terpenes for anxiety — caryophyllene, myrcene, nerolidol.
12 Jan 2022

Do terpenes really matter? ›

Studies have shown that terpenes have direct physiological effects on the body, especially for when it comes to linalool and limonene. This means that linalool-rich strains are likely to have a calming effect, and to provide pain relief, while limonene-rich strains are likely to be mood-elevating.

What terpenes make you focus? ›

What are the best terpenes for focus? The terpenes pinene, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene have been widely recognized as useful for focus. Based on our own research, however, pinene, terpinolene, eucalyptol, and puegone interact most strongly with the genes involved in ADHD.

What terpenes are good for anxiety? ›

Best Terpenes for Anxiety
  • Limonene. While most found in citrus fruits, limonene can also be found in certain cannabis strains, especially those with a strong citrus scent like lemon or orange. ...
  • Beta-caryophyllene. ...
  • Alpha-pinene. ...
  • Linalool. ...
  • Bubba Kush.

What terpene makes you sleepy? ›

Terpinolene

This terpene helps you feel drowsy, so if you struggle with a hyperactive mind as soon as you hit the sheets, terpinolene may be the terp for you.

How do you identify terpenes? ›

Recognizing Terpenes - YouTube

Does sativa or indica have more terpenes? ›

Strains labelled indica tended to have higher amounts of the terpene myrcene, which is thought to contribute to sedation and the more intense “couch-lock” effect. On the other hand, strains labelled sativa had higher amounts of sweet and herbal terpenes, like farnesene and bergamotene.

Is higher terpenes better? ›

The higher the terpene count in flower, the better. In extracts, it's also better—up to a point. (High Times, again: “Extracts with higher than 40 percent terpene contents are unpleasant to vaporize, and far from the ratios found in an actual plant.”)

What is a normal terpene percentage? ›

The average cannabis plant has roughly three dominant terpenes that make up between 1.5% and 4% of the plant, although there are a few strains that have higher percentages.

How much is a gram of terpenes? ›

1-2 drops per gram can be added to greatly increase the flavor and aroma of a concentrate. When added in higher levels, Terpenes on their own can break down the extract to the appropriate viscosity for use in a cartridge without the need for a cutting agent.

Are high terpenes good? ›

The higher the terpene count in flower, the better. In extracts, it's also better—up to a point. (High Times, again: “Extracts with higher than 40 percent terpene contents are unpleasant to vaporize, and far from the ratios found in an actual plant.”)

What does high terpene mean? ›

High-terpene full-spectrum extracts (HTFSE) are, as the name suggests, a full-spectrum extract characterized by relatively high concentrations of terpenes. Full-spectrum extracts are extracted with the goal of preserving the complex range of compounds within the raw cannabis plant.

Do terpenes affect edibles? ›

Consuming terpenes in an edible simply does not provide enough of the active ingredient to produce any type of unique effect. Not only that, but the cooking and digestive process are likely to break down everything except the THC (which it converts into 11-hydroxy-THC).

What does each terpene do? ›

Common Secondary Terpenes:
TerpeneAromaEffects
Myrceneearthy musk fruityrelaxation, euphoria “couch-lock”
Borneolmint metallicanti-inflammatory and analgesic
Phytolfloralsedative, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory
Eucalyptolminty mentholanti-bacterial and anti-fungal
4 more rows

How do terpenes affect the brain? ›

Limonene is responsible for increasing serotonin levels which influences how weed affects our mood. That means these terpenes can influence neurotransmitters in our brain which entails that different strains may have different effects on our mood.

What terpenes are good for giggles? ›

For example, myrcene is a terpene that is associated with the feeling of giggling. Limonene and pinene also fall into this category. If these terpenes are present in high amounts in a given strain of cannabis, it becomes one of the laugh-inducing strains.

What is the difference between cannabinoids and terpenes? ›

A cannabinoid is a large molecule produced primarily in the cannabis plant. They require high heat to evaporate and work by interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Terpenes are tiny molecules produced in thousands of different plant species.

Which concentrate has the most terpenes? ›

Butane hash oil (BHO) of the budder variety has the most potent terpene concentration, at 0.846%, and next is BHO of the shatter kind with 0.842%. These two figures could inter-switch with individual margins of error, meaning they tie for the most terpenes.

What strains have the highest terpenes? ›

Highest Terpene Strains
  • Marionberry. This strain comes in at just over 3% terpenes. ...
  • Sour Diesel. Sour diesel is sativa-dominant, and is a cross between Super Skunk and Chemdawg. ...
  • Dutch Treat. The primary terpene in Dutch Treat is terpinolene. ...
  • Fire Alien Strawberry. ...
  • Bruce Banner.
18 Aug 2021

What terpenes are sativa? ›

Sativas tend to contain a higher concentration of terpenes such as pinene and limonene that can create an uplifting, euphoric “high” experience. They also have a low concentration of terpenes such as myrcene, which is found frequently in indica strains and is considered to have sedative effects.

Does sativa or indica matter in edibles? ›

The expert opinion is that edibles can be an Indica or Sativa or Both, but differentiating them adds no value. That would have only been possible if the flowers were processed through a highly sophisticated method that does not alter the chemical components of the flower.

Is there really a difference between sativa and indica edibles? ›

Sativas are known for their “head high,” an invigorating, energizing effect that can help reduce anxiety or stress and increase creativity and focus. Indicas are typically associated with full-body effects, such as increasing deep relaxation and reducing insomnia.

What does terpene infused mean? ›

What is a terpene infusion? Terpene infusions are ordinary products with additional terpenes added. You can infuse terpenes with just about anything, including foods and beverages, cannabis products, cosmetics, and aromatherapy mediums like candles and incense.

What terpene makes you sleepy? ›

Terpinolene

This terpene helps you feel drowsy, so if you struggle with a hyperactive mind as soon as you hit the sheets, terpinolene may be the terp for you.

Which terpenes can cause anxiety? ›

According to Chasen, there are three terpenes you should be on the lookout for if you want to use cannabis to treat your anxiety — limonene, linalool, and beta-caryophyllene.

What percentage of terpenes is good? ›

The concentration of terpenes in vaping oil typically ranges from 5 to 15%, depending on the preferred end formulation, Raber says. If the concentration is too high, “it can actually sting your lips or tongue,” he says. “It can taste bad if not done well.”

Videos

1. Video: Shoppers, Loblaw employees to be covered for medical marijuana
(CityNews)
2. Which Cannabis Products Do Marijuana Consumers Purchase the Most? | MERRY JANE News
(MERRY JANE)
3. Business Report: Shoppers’ medical cannabis e-commerce platform launches
(CityNews)
4. Shoppers Drug Mart Granted Licence to Sell Medical Cannabis
(Puff Digital)
5. The Power Of Cannabis | Medical Marijuana Documentary | Absolute Documentaries
(Absolute Documentaries)
6. Medical cannabis with Shoppers Drug Mart?! An unboxing.
(Jess Hope)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated: 08/15/2022

Views: 5923

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (47 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.