Originally posted on The Georgia Straight.
If you’ve been keeping up with our series on terpenes, you’ll be familiar with what they are, and how they interact with other compounds in cannabis to create something called the entourage effect.
But what do these powerful organic compounds actually do in the body?
Terpenes, like cannabinoids, interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a collection of cell receptors and corresponding molecules that help regulate sleep, appetite, mood, motor control, immune function, reproduction, pleasure, pain, memory, and even temperature. Humans produce their own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids (endo meaning ‘within’) with help from fatty acids, particularly Omega-3’s.
Not only do terpenes assist cannabinoids in penetrating the blood-brain barrier; scientists have found that they can also influence the amount of THC that passes through that barrier. Different terpenes will affect the brain in different ways: while some might boost your energy, others might ease your anxiety.
This intersection is what interests scientists most, and it’s why manufacturers who have integrated terpenes into their single-compound products have an edge among cannabis patients in search of the most effective medicine.
There are too many terpenes to list in this short series, but we’re rounding out our list of nine today with limonene, eucalyptol, and terpineol. As terpene profiles become more and more important to the consumer experience, it’s good to get in the habit of trying to identify them when you’re purchasing cannabis at a retail shop.
That unmistakable citrus smell we associate with lemons and limes comes from this distinct terpene, which is also the second-most common terpene in cannabis. It’s also found in oranges, rosemary, juniper, and peppermint.
Cannabis varieties that are high in limonene include Super Lemon Haze, Lemon Skunk, OG Kush, Jack Herer, and Durban Poison, among others.
The benefits of inhaling or ingesting this uplifting terpene can include elevated mood, stress relief, and increase mental focus. Limonene also has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which is why it’s found in so many household cleaners. Beyond that, it also helps the digestive tract, mucous membranes, and skin absorb other terpenes and chemicals more effectively.
This terpene gets its name from the eucalyptus plant, which is where it’s most commonly found. Bay leaves, tea trees, and cannabis also contain eucalyptol.
While concentrations of eucalyptol in varieties of cannabis are relatively low in comparison to terpenes like myrcene and limonene, it has been found in small amounts in Super Silver Haze.
This terpene has many medicinal properties, including as an analgesic, antibacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fungal and insecticide. It’s currently being studied as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s and has been shown to reduce the neuro-inflammation that causes the disease.
This terpene, common in pine trees, lilacs, eucalyptus sap, and lime blossoms, and is also responsible for the smoky aroma in lapsang souchong tea. It can be difficult to detect this terpene in cannabis by the nose alone as it often occurs alongside alpha-pinene, which has a similar aroma. It’s used frequently in perfumes and cosmetics.
You’ll find terpineol in cultivars of cannabis like Jack Herer, Jack the Ripper, OG Kush, and Girl Scout Cookies.
Medicinally, terpineol can be an effective antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, anti-tumor, antimalarial, and a mild sedative. Studies have shown that terpineol is also a powerful anti-cancer agent.