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At a very basic level, terpenes are the molecules in a plant responsible for its aroma, but there is so much more to terpenes than meets the nose.
Just over 400 known terpenes exist in the natural world, nearly half of which have been found in the cannabis plant, making hemp one of the most terpene-rich species in the Plant Kingdom. Through mere coincidence, shared evolution, or sheer providence, the terpenes in hemp work in tandem with cannabinoids to produce many medical benefits to humans.
So if you’re growing hemp as a medicine, it’s wise to pay attention to the terpene profile of your crop, says hemp breeder Joe Ullman of Atlas Seed Co. and guest on this week’s podcast. This is a deep dive on terpenes – what they are, how they work, and why you should care.
Joe also shares his top 10 list of terpenes – what they’re good for, what they smell like, and what other plants they’re found in.
Joe Ullman’s Top Ten Hemp Terpenes
Terpinolene. Found in allspice, cumin, lavender, apples. Found to have sedative effect. Combines well with cannabinoids to enhance creativity, cognition, and mood.
Found in all citrus. 2nd most prevalent terpene in cannabis. Has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, antianxiety, and anti-depressant properties. Works synergistically with cannabinoids. Creates energetic mood effect.
Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene
Most prevalent terpene in nature. Found in pine trees. Has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic characteristics. Bronchodilator.
Smells like hyacinths and lilacs. Woody, orange aroma. Anti-inflammatory. Decongestant. Found in Barbed skullcap. Reputed to kill breast cancer cells in clinical trial.
Found in Lavender. Calming, stress reducer. Anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, anti-insomnia, anti-convulsant.
Most prevalent terpene in cannabis. Found in mangos, hops, thyme, basil, and lemongrass. Calming, pain reliever. Allows cannabinoids to enter receptors in the brain. Can offer Indica couch lock.
Found in lavender, tea tree, lemon grass. Pleasant, woody aroma. Strong sedative effect when inhaled. Antioxidant, anti-fungal, antimicrobial. Used in transdermal delivery of therapeutic drugs.
Humulene & Caryophyllene
Found in hops, cloves, cinnamon, and rosemary. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, mild topical anesthetic.