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How terpenes work

Posted: 29-04-2020 | Written by: Elena Sirius

Fragrant mummies

In the time of the Ancient Egyptians the powerful scents of plants were already used. In the tomb of Tutankhamun a number of pots have been found containing essential oils of cardamom and nardus. It was customary to embalm deceased people with aromatic oils. The famous kyphi oil of the Egyptians consisted of various herbs and resins and was used in their temples.
Cleopatra was also known for rubbing herself in with all kinds of tasty fragrances, which probably made her even more attractive than she already was. 
In the time of the Greeks and the Romans, the knowledge of essential oils was used in the bathing culture for which they are known. 
Then we jump further into history to the Middle Ages, where aromas were used to clean churches, for example. Pepper, sulphur and hops were used for this purpose. Sick people were also kept scented herbs under their noses.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic substances found in plants (and some animals, including certain butterflies). They probably play a role in protecting the plant against intruders, including certain fungi and insects. At the same time, they can also serve as an attraction for pollination. This therefore guarantees their reproduction. Humans have been aware of the healing effects of so-called aromatherapy for thousands of years. 

Damiana

When you open a package of Damiana, you breathe the sweet and spicy scent that, according to Wikipedia, is reminiscent of figs. This plant is used as a tea and can also be smoked, for example in a joint. The effect varies per person and can go from mildly relaxing to euphoric and aphrodisiac.

Cannabis

Terpenes are, together with cannabinoids, the most important constituents of the weed plant. They are also formed in the sticky trichomes (resin glands) of the plant. The fact that a Sour Diesel has such a pungent odour, and so differs from a Haze Berry, is due to its terpene profile. Genuine cannabis connoisseurs try out as many different strains as possible (and that will take you a while, check out our Seedshop). Sativa generally contains a lot of terpene alpha-pinene. Indica usually contains a lot of myrcene. These different terpenes each have their own unique properties and beneficial effects.
Below is an overview of the most important terpenes, which are common in plants we like to use.

Limonene

The name of this terpene contains the English word 'lemon'. The skin of citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit consist of oil glands that contain a lot of this terpene. 

Limonene is seen as the terpene that can reduce stress levels and anxiety.
These cannabis strains contain a lot of limonene:

Vaporizer: 176 degrees Celsius

Myrcene

Myrcene is the terpene found in the highest concentrations in (commercial) weed. This pungent aroma is also found in hops, the plant that gives beer its spicy character. Myrcene is also found in, for example, mango, lime grass and thyme. It contains aromas of cardamom, cloves and notes of musk and earth. Myccene is characterized by its calming effect. It has been used for thousands of years for its soothing properties. In Mexico, a tea of lime grass is a common remedy for insomnia.

These cannabis strains contain a lot of myrcene:

Vaporizer: 167 degrees Celsius

Caryophyophylene 

This interesting substance is the only terpene that can activate the endo-cannabinoid system. That way it can have an anti-inflammatory effect. This terpene can be found in black pepper, cinnamon and cloves. It has spicy, woody tones and occurs in various herbs, including oregano and basil.
Caryophylene is seen as the terpene that relaxes and relieves pain.  

These cannabis strains contain a lot of caryophyllene:

Vaporizer: 130 degrees Celsius

Terpinoleen

One out of 10 cannabis strains would contain a dominant terpinoleen terpene-profile. Terpinoleen occurs in lilacs and has a floral, spicy aroma. It is further found in nutmeg, tea tree, apples and cumin. In terms of effects it is given energy. This terpene is seen as a lesser-known terpene, but it nevertheless plays an important role in defining different cannabis aromas. 
Cannabis strains containing terpinoleen:

Vaporizer: 186 degrees Celsius

Pineen

Pineen contains the word 'pine'. Its scents are reminiscent of a walk through a pine forest. Pineen is often found in nature. This terpene is part of parsley, rosemary, dill and basil.
Effects of pine are associated with alertness. Pineen counteracts the effects of THC somewhat and also has the property of retaining memory. Pineen is used to combat paranoia and anxiety. It may also help with pain and inflammation.
Cannabis strains that contain pine:

Vaporizer: 155 degrees Celsius


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