What Are Terpenes & What Do They Do?
Typically when you hear the term “aromatic plant,” cannabis is not typically the first example that comes to mind for the majority of people. While typical cooking herbs such as basil, mint, oregano, rosemary and sage are considered aromatic plants because of their desired aroma and flavor (or terpene profile) in the kitchen, cannabis is no different. However, since there are endless combinations of cannabis genetics, the range of terpene profiles is immeasurable.
Terpenes have been found to be essential building blocks of complex plant hormones and molecules, pigments, sterols and even cannabinoids in cannabis. Terpenes also play an incredibly important role by providing the plant with natural protection from bacteria and fungus, insects, and other environmental stresses.
“Terpenes have been found to be essential building blocks of complex plant hormones and molecules, pigments, sterols and even cannabinoids in cannabis.”
More noticeably, terpenes are responsible for the pleasant, or not so pleasant, aromas and flavors of cannabis. Although, over 200 terpenes have been reported in the plant, only a small minority has actually been studied for their pharmacological effects.
A study conducted in 1997 by the Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture entitled “Essential oil of Cannabis sativa L. strains” characterized 16 terpenoid compounds in the essential oil of different cannabis strains. The most abundant of which was myrcene. Other terpenes that were present in higher concentrations included alpha-pinene, limonene, trans-Caryophyllene and caryophyllene oxide.