In recent years terpenes have become a topic of interest among health nuts. Though the pick-up in public awareness of terpenes is closely connected with the cannabis debate, it’s hardly exclusive. As the feasibility of medical marijuana continues to be investigated, the utility of terpenes has come into focus. They affect the characteristics of the “high,” but are not the components that cause it. The actual psychoactive effects are caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) activating CB1 and CB2 receptors. This distinction is why terpenes are legal and readily available even in states where marijuana is not.
An Introduction To Terpenes
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are naturally occurring in plants of all sorts. The National Center for Biotechnology Information(NCBI) links to a study from the British Journal of Pharmacology, which states that “over 200 [terpenoids] have been reported in the cannabis plant.” This brings plenty of public interest toward terpenes, and is why many misunderstand terpenes to be linked solely with cannabis.
The review goes on to discuss “limonene, myrcene, α-pinene, linalool, β-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol and phytol.” It states that these “are all flavour and fragrance components common to human diets that have been designated Generally Recognized as Safe by the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies.” That means that they are not just easily purchasable, but that there are many different ways we can safely utilize their benefits.
These compounds contribute scent and flavor as well as a host of individual health benefits. Linalool, a terpene found in lavender and many other flowers and spices, is a good example. It is a terpene common in medical marijuana for its efficacy as a sedative, antidepressant, and analgesic. Additionally, it provides anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-epileptic benefits. Linalool is also commonly found in essential oils and candles marketed in the direction of relaxation.
Another terpene that we come across regularly is limonene. Have you ever noticed how the scent of citrus (lemon, lime, and oranges) is frequently associated with energy and hygiene? This is because limonene has mood-elevating and stress-reducing properties, as well as anti-fungal and anti-bacterial benefits. Along with essential oils and candles, limonene is often incorporated into many soaps, body sprays, and solvents.
Already, over 15,000 terpenoids have been identified and described, and the list is still growing. They’re incorporated into everything from lotions to hair products, holistic medicine and household cleaning liquids. On the West coast, they’ve even begun incorporating them into cocktails, pastries and chocolates.
A number of establishments, like Prank Bar in LA, have set themselves apart from the crowd with the regular use of terpenes in their offerings. Then there are the South Florida brewing companies like Devour Brewing Company and Twisted Trunk that regularly offer new brews flavored by infusing terpenes. Non-medical marijuana is still illegal in Florida, so these beers are strictly flavored with terpenes and have no psychoactive qualities. Terpene infusion has significantly widened the range of flavor possibilities for beer manufacturers and is quickly turning into a popular finishing method.
Terpenes are commonly sold as concentrates in glass bottles with a dropper cap, and are widely available online. They provide unique flavors and health benefits that can be mixed and matched to taste or need, but must be used in minimal amounts to keep from overwhelming the human system. While recreational cannabis is still highly regulated and even illegal in some states, terpenes are not strictly derived from the cannabis plant. It’s understandable that they are regulated separately, because of their proven medicinal value and non-psychoactive effects.