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What are Terpenes?

The cannabis plant consists of a wide variety of chemicals and compounds. About 140 of these belong to a large class of aromatic organic hydrocarbons known as terpenes.  Terpenes, unlike cannabinoids, are responsible for the aroma of cannabis. The FDA and other agencies have generally recognized terpenes as “safe.” Terpenes act on receptors and neurotransmitters; they are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors (similar to antidepressants like Prozac); they enhance norepinephrine activity (similar to tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil); they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter that counters glutamate, the “upper”). 

Myrcene

β-myrcene

*Myrcene is produced by numerous cannabis strains, and some have suggested that it lends sedative-like effects to the user.

B-caryophyllene

β Caryophyllene

*β Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (CB2). It produces anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects

Humulene

α-Humulene

*α Humulene contributes to the “hoppy” aroma of cannabis. This terpene acts as an appetite suppressant and exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activity.

Guaiol

Secondary Terpenes

*Guaiol is an alcohol found in the oil of guaiacum and cypress pine. It possesses antimicrobial properties.

Linalool

Secondary Terpenes

*Linalool has a floral scent reminiscent of spring flowers, but with spicy overtones. It possesses sedative properties and is an effective anxiety and stress reliever. It has also been used an analgesic and anti-epileptic.

Isopulegol

Secondary Terpenes

*Isopulegol is a chemical precursor to menthol, and has a variety of promising routes for therapeutic research. Studies have shown that isopulegol possess gastroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects, and reduces the severity of seizures in animal models.

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