Terpene Database- Uses, benefits, and effects of terpenes
What Are Terpenes?
Smell a hemp plant — or walk into a conifer forest — and you’ll experience the power of terpenes. These organic molecules give each hemp plant its distinct fragrance and flavor. Every hemp cultivar (aka strain) has its unique aroma because it contains a specific terpene profile.
When you smoke CBD flower, dab or vape concentrates, these organic compounds work hard to deliver a flavorful experience. The type of adventure you’ll have with a particular hemp strain — citrusy, piney, woody, herbal, or tropical — depends on the strain’s aromatic profile.
Beta-caryophyllene (also referred to as trans-caryophyllene) is a hemp terpene that features a unique aroma of herbal spiciness mixed with hints of wood. You will find this terpene in most hemp strains and plants like black pepper, hops, rosemary, oregano, and cinnamon. Its potent anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties make it the perfect ingredient for salves and topicals.Read More Here
This oxygenated terpenoid is a metabolic byproduct of beta-caryophyllene. Also found in lemon balm, cloves, basil, oregano, black pepper, rosemary, and hops, this terpene exhibits antifungal and anticoagulant properties. It presents a characteristic herbal flavor and a woody aroma mixed with a hint of sweet spiciness.Read More Here
Cedrene or alpha-cedrene is a sesquiterpene with a fresh, light woody aroma found in hemp and the essential oil of cedar. Researchers studied this versatile terpene as part of essential oils and found that it potentially exhibits antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties.Read More Here
An extremely potent monoterpenoid found in roses and the stems and leaves of the lemongrass plant. This terpene is an ingredient in many botanical oils and CBD products. Characterized by a fresh floral and sweet citrusy aroma, it’s an effective mosquito repellent used in perfume and beauty products. Its effects are not well-investigated in humans, but we know of its potential anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.Read More Here
A common terpene naturally found in over 100 plants, including coriander, oregano, eucalyptus, anise, cilantro, and certain hemp cultivars. Cymene, or p-cymene, exhibits a variety of biological activities. Due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial effects, it serves as an ingredient in topical creams and essential oils.Read More Here
Eucalyptol, also known as cineol, is a monoterpenoid found in hemp, sweet basil, tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, sage, and other plants. This terpene exhibits a fresh, minty scent and a spicy, cooling flavor. Eucalyptol possesses respiratory and anti-inflammatory medicinal properties.Read More Here
Fenchol, also known as fenchyl alcohol, is a monoterpenoid found in hemp and plants like lime, nutmeg, sweet basil, and wild celery. Due to its aroma that resembles pine, lemon, and camphor, it’s a common ingredient in perfume manufacturing. This terpene has a fresh, lemon-lime taste and exhibits antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.Read More Here
Fenchone, also known as alpha-fenchone, is an organic aromatic compound classified as a monoterpene and a ketone. This oily colorless liquid — and a minor hemp terpene — has a structure and odor that resembles camphor. This natural compound contributes to the anise-like smell and taste of fennel and has potential analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.Read More Here
Geraniol is a monoterpenoid found in hemp and other plant species. It’s a colorless oily liquid with a rose-like aroma. It’s widely known as the primary component of citronella oil, rose oil, and palmarosa oil. This natural compound is present in the essential oils of geranium and numerous herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, especially lemongrass. It has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and serves as an ingredient in personal and industrial products.Read More Here
It’s a highly fragrant terpene that exhibits an intense floral aroma with fruity notes of banana, peach, and apple. This terpene is found in over 60 essential oils, including lemongrass, geranium, and sassafras. Also known as geranyl acetate, this terpene displays antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.Read More Here
Guaiol is sesquiterpene alcohol occurring naturally in hemp and other plants like the cypress pine. The oil of the guaiacum plant contains this terpene in abundance — and, as you may notice, it’s the plant from which guaiol derives its name. Also referred to as champacol, this terpene possesses a floral, woody scent and exhibits potential antibacterial properties.Read More Here
Humulene, also known as α-caryophyllene, is a vital component of the hemp plant. Scientifically classified as monocyclic sesquiterpene, humulene is an organic molecule present in various plants and essential oils. The essential oil from the flowering cone of the hops plant is abundant in this terpene. It’s present in hemp and cannabis-derived essential oils in high concentrations (up to 40 percent) and, as such, considered a primary hemp terpene. Scientists are exploring this terpene as a prospective anti-inflammatory agent with the potential to treat allergies.Read More Here
A hemp terpene that exhibits a recognizable spicy, woody aroma. Isoborneol is a widely used food additive, flavoring agent, and natural insect repellent. Like delta-9 and delta-8 THC, isoborneol is an isomeric form of the terpene borneol. Isomers are compounds with the same molecular formula but differ in the arrangement of their atoms, which further draws the differences in their properties.Read More Here
A hemp terpene praised for its distinguished and vigorous minty aroma and flavor. An interesting fact about isopulegol is that it’s the chemical precursor to menthol. Also found in lemongrass and geranium, this terpene exhibits potential anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and gastroprotective effects.Read More Here
A primary hemp terpene, limonene is praised for its intense citrus fragrance. Present in the peels of various citrus fruits like lemon, orange, and grapefruit, this terpene is also found in abundance in the hemp plant. This organic compound is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antibacterial properties.Read More Here
A monoterpenoid found in various spices, flowering plants, and even some fungi. Linalool is one of hemp’s primary terpenes known for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, sedative, and stress-relieving properties. It exhibits a sweet lavender fragrance with a touch of citrus, which is why it’s frequently used as a scent and flavoring agent.Read More Here
Myrcene, also known as beta myrcene, is a monoterpene and a primary organic compound in various plants and fruits. You’ll taste it in hemp, parsley, thyme, bay, cardamom, hops, lemongrass, and mango fruit. Despite being present in its natural form in herbs and fruits, it’s commercially produced from beta-pinene — a terpene found in turpentine. Myrcene is the most prominent terpene in the cannabis plant.Read More Here
A monoterpenoid alcohol found in the essential oils of lemongrass, hops, and catnip. It plays a significant role in the flavor and aroma profiles of rose and palmarosa oils, where it exists in large quantities. Widely used in the fragrances and food industry, this terpene possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.Read More Here
Nerolidol is a sesquiterpene present in hemp and the essential oils of various plants and flowers, including lavender and jasmine. Also known as pepruviol or penetrol, it exhibits a floral or woody aroma that reminds of fresh tree bark. This terpene possesses several therapeutic qualities, including antifungal, sedative, antibacterial, and anti-anxiety effects.Read More Here
A monoterpene with a significant role in hemp — also found in plant life like mint, parsley, mangos, and kumquats. It exhibits a sweet, fragrant, woody, and herbaceous scent and is chemically similar to the terpene myrcene. Its fragrant aroma makes it a common ingredient in perfumes where it contributes to floral notes like lily and lilac. With its anti-congestant, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects, this terpene possesses exciting therapeutic potentials.Read More Here
Alpha-phellandrene and beta-phellandrene are organic compounds known as terpenes, which share a similar molecular structure and chemical properties. These monoterpenes are also double-bond isomers. While alpha-phellandrene is a constituent of eucalyptus oil, beta-phellandrene was isolated from the oils of water fennel. These two compounds exhibit minty and citrus profiles that make them popular ingredients in fragrances and cosmetics.Read More Here
A diterpene alcohol with an oily consistency and a grassy aroma. This terpene is chlorophyll’s byproduct and is used to synthesize Vitamins E and K1. Naturally occurring in green tea, it’s known for its mild sedative effect and antioxidant properties. Present in hemp in trace amounts, research is investigating its potential anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsive qualities.Read More Here
A secondary monoterpene with a potent peppermint aroma. Due to its fragrant scent, this terpene is used in flavoring agents, perfumes, and aromatherapy. Like many terpenes, it’s an effective insecticide. Researchers are investigating its potential to help the brain store memory by curbing memory-inhibiting properties, and its anti-anxiety and psychostimulant effects.Read More Here
A bicyclic monoterpene recognized for its spicy scent and flavor profile, present in the holm oak and Norway spruce. This terpene is a primary compound in carrot seed oil and occurs in lower concentrations in tea tree oil. Found in hemp in trace amounts, it exhibits potential antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities.Read More Here
Classified as monoterpenes, terpinenes are a group of isomeric hydrocarbons — naturally occurring organic compounds composed exclusively of hydrogen and carbon atoms. Alpha-terpinene is one of the most common forms naturally found in hemp. Other plant sources of this terpene include cardamom, marjoram, juniper, and eucalyptus essential oil. Synthetically, this terpene is produced by a chemical rearrangement of a-pinene. Researchers have explored the antioxidant effects of this terpene mainly as a constituent of tea tree oil.Read More Here
This group of four monoterpene alcohol isomers occurs naturally in over 150 plants. Aside from the hemp plant, the main form of terpineol, alpha-terpineol, is also found in lilacs, eucalyptus sap, pine trees, and lime blossoms. The potential therapeutic properties of this terpene range from anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial to antioxidant.Read More Here
A minor hemp terpene that carries a multidimensional aromatic profile. It emits a piney, floral, herbaceous fragrance with a hint of citrus. Also known as alpha-terpinolene, this terpene possesses potential mildly to moderately sedative effects. It naturally occurs in rosemary, sage, lilac, conifer trees, apple trees, and tea trees. It’s also a natural constituent of many essential oils. This terpene possesses potential antifungal and antibacterial properties and may be useful in calming the central nervous system.Read More Here
A sesquiterpene that exhibits a potent citrus aroma. Aside from the hemp plant, this terpene also occurs naturally in Valencia oranges. Due to its strong fruity citrus flavor, it’s highly valued as a food additive. Valencene possesses potential anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties and may act as a skin protectant.Read More Here
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Scent, flavor, and the quality of hemp flower
Scent — together with color and flavor — is considered one of the central indicators of the quality of hemp flowers.
Hemp flowers with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), cultivated and cured to the highest standards, displays a pungent yet fresh and pleasant aroma.
Described as “dank” or “loud,” hemp flowers that emit a strong fragrance are considered top-shelf.
The flower’s terpene profile creates a distinctive aroma and flavor, and its liking is subjective to each user. The array of scent emitted by high-quality hemp strains ranges from “skunky,” to “piney,” and “diesely.”
Often, users identify the “grassy” smell of some hemp strains as low quality hemp flower. But, a “grassy” fragrance and flavor doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality.
When the CBD flower emits a pungent, distinct aroma, regardless of the flavor, it indicates hard at work terpenes in that particular strain.
The scent of the hemp flower may indicate the preference of the user to a particular terpene profile. Some users prefer fruity smells in their hemp. Others like a hint of fuel scents.
Choosing your hemp flower based on your preferential scent may take you to the strain that best suits your needs.
Other natural sources of terpenes
As primary aromatic components of essential oils, they play a key role in the plant’s regeneration, oxygenation, and immunity defense. There are over 20,000 terpenes in existence in a variety of plants, fruits, and even animals.
One of the most common hemp aromatic compounds, pinene, is also found in pine trees, rosemary, basil, and orange peel.
There is no recognizable difference between isolated pinene from pine or from hemp flower. However, there is a difference between their effects as part of each plant’s natural profile.
The support that these aroma molecules give cannabinoids is what makes the hemp plant so special. We need further research regarding the healing effects of hemp terpenes versus terpenes from other plants.
But, so far, we know that hemp’s terpenes support other natural compounds found in the plant (aka cannabinoids) in producing and enhancing the beneficial effect.
Which part of the hemp plant produces terpenes?
These aromatic, ultra-beneficial natural compounds are produced in the trichomes — the tiny glandular hairs sprinkled on top of the hemp flower. You can’t miss them, they give the plant a crystal-like, or “frosty,” and sticky feel. Aside from these organic molecules, trichomes and their resin glands also produce your favorite cannabinoids.
Both tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) — which turn into THC and CBD, respectively, during the process of decarboxylation — are made in the trichomes. In a nutshell, trichomes are the most valuable and richest part of the hemp plant.
Terpenes vs. terpenoids
As cannabidiol (CBD) and the hemp plant grew in popularity, the terms terpene and terpenoid have been used interchangeably. There is a difference between these two terms.
Terpenes are hydrocarbons or compounds made of hydrogen and carbon. After drying and curing of the hemp plant, terpenes are oxidized, and that’s when they become terpenoids.
The Role of Terpenes in the Plant
Plants create aromatic molecules for protection against insects, herbivores, and other environmental dangers. These natural compounds are also responsible for the plant’s regeneration and oxygenation.
Due to their key role in plants, they act as potential immunity boosters in humans. They provide immunity defenses in the people who consume them and the plants that produce them.
The hemp plant contains over 200 terpenes, out of which the majority are present in trace amounts. They are so tiny that current testing hasn’t been able to detect them. So, why does the hemp plant produce all of them, as minor as they are?
Research points out several factors behind the terpene diversity in plants. One of them is terpene synthases (TPSs), or enzymes responsible for creating their structure.
These enzymes have the ability to produce multiple terpenes from the same basic structure. They can also provide pathways for the production of new terpenes.
Another factor may be the possibility of terpenes to diversify. This ability is considered an element of defense against natural enemies that, in the future, will also evolve and diversify their counter-defenses.
The possibility that the diversity of terpenes in plants is a result of human cultivation and breeding techniques also exists. Breeding for desired traits in hemp might drive the diversity of these aroma molecules.
It’s important to note that the human factor may also change the important adaptive mechanisms against environmental stressors.
How Environmental Factors Affect Terpene Expression
There are many factors that contribute to terpene-heavy hemp cultivars, including growing, harvesting, and curing conditions.
Hemp consumers understand the importance of these organic aroma components in their products, so preserving them is more important than ever.
When growing indoors, the grower has greater control over environmental factors that take away or contribute to the hemp plant’s terpene expression. Indoor growers may use hydroponics to grow their hemp plants.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent.
While this growing method doesn’t necessarily inhibit the expression of terpenes, growing the plant in traditional soil makes it easier to ensure a unique terpene profile. One of the factors that can inhibit their expression is an excess of nutrients.
Growers can combat such factors by reducing nutrient intake a couple of weeks before harvest.
Harvesting time is the trickiest part and a matter of finding the middle ground. To get an abundant terpene profile, growers should not harvest too early or too late. Harvesting too early may discontinue the full production of cannabinoids and terpenes in the flower.
Harvesting too late may ruin the terpene profile and cause a decreased chemical potency of trichomes. It may also cause them to break off entirely.
Another important factor when growing hemp flower for these aromatic molecules is the temperature. The ideal temperature is sufficiently cool and ranges from 77-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit colder during the night. The drying process should be performed under sufficiently cool temperatures — between 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce their evaporation. Gentle cultivation of the hemp flower also increases the chances of getting a terpene-rich final product.
Terpenes And the Human Body
Aside from their role in plants to provide flavor and aroma, these organic compounds support other hemp molecules in producing healing effects. The synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids is known as the entourage effect and is the reason why these aroma molecules have been a critical area of research.
Extensive research suggests that these aromatic compounds play an immense role in tempering THC’s intoxicating effects and creating synergy with phytocannabinoids to elevate their therapeutic value. That’s why many people go for broad spectrum, full spectrum, or whole-plant hemp CBD products when consuming hemp for personal or medical reasons. Countless cannabinoid-terpene combinations prove more potent and effective than isolated hemp compounds.
The relationship between terpenes and cannabinoids can go either way — they may exaggerate or suppress one another’s effects. It all depends on the cultivar and the individual response of the user to it.