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What are terpenes?

January 21, 2021

What are terpenes?

By Sam Musa

Generally, terpenes are popular aromatic compounds present in a wide range of plants. These compounds are mostly associated with the cannabis plant because the cannabis plant itself contains a high level of terpenes.

As an aromatic compound, terpenes are responsible for creating the characteristic scents produced by a wide range of plants. Some of these include pine, cannabis, lavender, fresh orange peel, and many more. When combined, terpenes create a strong bond to produce the fragrance that you'll find in a wide variety of plants. Similarly, terpenes are also powerful compounds that provide plants with the required protections against external forces such as infectious germs or animal grazing. 

Apart from their presence and functions in plants, terpenes have also been proven to offer some health benefits in humans. Of course, there are strict regulations surrounding the widespread use of cannabis all across the world. As a result, more and more scientists are conducting a series of advanced research to ascertain and establish more potential health benefits of the cannabis plant. Here, we’ll be taking you through the basics of terpenes ranging from their nature to their striking difference from cannabinoids. Let’s get started:

What Do Terpenes Do?

As a highly aromatic compound, terpenes are responsible for determining the scent of numerous herbs and plants. From rosemary to lavender, and even animals, terpenes help bring out flavor and aroma in plants, exerting an influence by connecting and interacting with cannabinoids.

Manufacturers commonly utilize isolated terpenes to create scents and flavors for various products, including body products, performs, and even foods. Apart from creating flavors and scents in plants, terpenes also play a significant role in attracting pollinators and exerting a strong reaction to repel predators such as animals and insects. Similarly, some terpenes also play protective roles in plants, boost the immune system to recover from damages and keep them away from infectious germs. 

Although, there are reports that some people often confuse terpenes with terpenoids, it is necessary to categorically state that terpenes and terpenoids are not the same. Terpenes are aromatic compounds in their natural form when present in live plants. Once the plant undergoes the drying off stage and cures, especially during the production of cannabis, the terpenes undergo oxidization and turn out to become terpenoids.

How are Terpenes Different from Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are generally considered as chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. One of the most popular examples of cannabinoids is THC, which is the active compound in the body’s endocannabinoid system, producing a high sensation in people who consume cannabis. Another popular example is cannabidiol, which has continued to gain widespread attention due to its medicinal properties. Although, CBD and THC act on the same receptor in the human body, their influence on these receptors are strikingly different. While THC creates a feeling of euphoria, CBD only offers numerous potential health benefits.

CBD and THC may be the most popular cannabinoids that have garnered widespread popularity. However, they are only two out of the over 100 cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant.

Another example of cannabinoids present in cannabis plants are the terpenes. And interestingly, they are part of the most abundant compounds in the natural world. As mentioned earlier, terpenes are responsible for the scent, smell, and aroma produced by most plants, but the compounds are absorbed and used in different ways in animals.

There You Go! The basics of terpenes and their difference with cannabidiols.




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