Cannabinoids are clearly the favourite child of the cannabis chemical family. It’s a name used to define many the unique compounds that live inside the various strains of the plant. The big names like THC (what gets you high) and CBD (an anti-inflammatory currently the subject of much study/marketing) are without a doubt the clear darlings when selecting a bud of your choice.
There is another much-overlooked element to cannabis that has often been marvelled at but is only now really receiving its due: terpenes.
Terpenes are the oils that are best known for changing the smell and taste of the cannabis flower, but they are by no means unique to the plant. A terpene is a term in botany that is found in many coniferous plants, fruits and vegetables. Their most common use is the primary ingredient of essential oils.
Currently, there are over 200 known terpenes in cannabis, many not found in any other types of flora. The more notable include of cannabis’ terpenes limonene, myrcene, α-pinene, linalool, β-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol and phytol.
Each is associated with its own particular taste and smell. α-pinene, for instance, is the terpene that gives pine trees their unique scent, while linalool is also found in lavender.
In cannabis, as in other plants, they may serve as a defence mechanism. Terpenes like limonene and pinene in flowers act as a repellent to insects, while the bitter sesquiterpenoids serve as “anti-feedants for grazing animals,” according to a 2011 study.
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