When I first started researching cannabis as a part of a healthy lifestyle, it was pretty overwhelming and I have a background in science and research. Every time I read about terpenes I ended up glossing over it because I was still trying to wrap my mind around the various therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant.
So when I finally did manage to take a bit of it in I was especially surprised to learn that I consumed terpenes on a daily basis even without consuming cannabis.
So what is a terpene? As it pertains to cannabis terpenes are what make up the aromatic profile of a strain. You may be familiar with terpenes in aromatherapy, specifically, extracted oils known as essential oils. Different terpenes will have different therapeutic effects on us, for example, the terpene limonene is known for its mood uplifting effects and can be found in, you guessed it, lemon and other citrus fruits. When it comes to cannabis there are over 100 terpenes and thousands of terpene combinations, which contribute to the overall flavour, mood and feeling of the strain.
These are some of the following ways you may be consuming terpenes that you were not aware of:
Essential oils: Whether it’s tea tree, lavender or a blend of essential oils, terpenes are present because they occur naturally in plants. Terpenes make up the aroma of essential oils that are extracted from the plant itself. I’ve long been fascinated by the fact that essential oils have numerous benefits to our health ranging from cognitive to nervous system health.
Spices: If you are familiar with cannabis strains like Hash Plant, you may know that it has a peppery taste and aroma. The reason for this is because this strain contains high levels of a particular terpene called beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which is also found in abundance in black pepper. BCP is an aroma molecule that’s found in plant essential oils which gives them a distinct flavour and enhances the flavour profiles when it comes to food and smells. Other common terpenes found in spices are fennel (anethol), cloves (eugenol), and thyme (thymol).
Citrus fruits: I love smelling the aromas of freshly peeled or cut citrus fruits. The terpene, limonene, is found in citrus fruits, which is also what gives these deliciously bright fruits it’s aroma. Limonene has many uses including as a food additive, a natural cleaner due to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and in alternative medicine its used to reduce gastric reflux. On top of that, the smell of citrus is known to help uplift your mood and calm cravings.
Oolong tea (black): The famous Oolong tea is made by tea leaves from the plant Camellia sinensis where you’ll find the terpene linalool. It has a woody astringent aroma and it’s main medicinal function is anxiety reduction. It’s also found in lavender which has been used for thousands of years for sedative and relaxant effects, also seen in the way we use lavender essential oil to enhance tranquility.
If we look at the above list, there are a few things you may have noticed are in common. Terpenes are plant derived, they make up the taste and aroma of a plant, and they have complementary and therapeutic effects when consumed by humans. I feel it’s especially important to understand that when it comes to terpenes, they have their own set of therapeutic properties which may or may not exist outside of the cannabis plant! So keep enjoying your daily dose of non-cannabis terpenes and keep this in mind if you’re choosing particular cannabis strains.
Disclosure: The information shared in this post is a personal experience and not to be considered medical or legal advice. Please consult with a health practitioner and seek legal counsel on the cannabis laws in your area.