The cannabis plant has 140 varieties of chemical, and compounds that belong to a large class of aromatic organic hydrocarbons known as terpenes.
Hydrocarbons are one of the primary building blocks of plant resin, and their essential oils contributes to the aroma, flavor, and color. Each cannabis strain has it's unique terpenoid profile that can dominate, while others will only be evident in trace amounts. Other than smelling aromatic, there are many therapeutic benefits associated with terpenes that have been used hundred years in traditional herbal medicine. Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain, and have various effects.
The FDA and other agencies have recognized terpenes as "safe". They act on receptors and neurotransmitters, and are prone to combine with or dissolve in lipids of fats; they act as serotonin uptake inhibitors, like Prozac; they enhance norepinephrine activity, similar to Elavil; they increase dopamine activity; and they augment GABA. There is a need for more research to improve accuracy in describing, and predicting how terpenes in cannabis can be used medicinally to help specific ailments and health conditions.
There are nearly 200 terpenes identified in cannabis. Here are some of the most important ones.
Humulene - found in hops, cannabis sativa stains, and Vietnamese coriander, and considered to be anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anorectic. It has been used for generations in Chinese medicine.
Limonene - It has a strong citrus smell of oranges, lemons, and lines. Limonene promotes a general uplift in mood, and attitude.
Pinene - has distinctive aromas of pine, and fir. It is found in many other conifers, as well as in non-coniferous plants, like classic resin, and pine wood. It is used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator, and local antiseptic.
Camphene - plant derived, emits a pungent odor of damp woodlands, and fir needles. It may play a critical role in cardiovascular disease. Camphene is a minor component of many essential oils such as turpentine, camphor oil, citronella oil, and ginger oil.
Linalool - has a floral , and lavender undertones and promotes a calming, relaxing effect. It may reduce lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke, and boost the immune system through specific receptors.
Caryophyllene - is found in many plats such as Thai basil, cloves, cinnamon leaves, and black pepper. It holds promise in cancer treatment by binding to the CB2 receptors.