"Terpenes belong to a class of compounds known as aromatic hydrocarbons, and they are made up of chains of linked isoprene units. Isoprene is an abundant naturally occurring molecule with the chemical formula C₅H₈, and terpenes are formed by two or more linked isoprene units. Thus, monoterpenes (C₁₀H₁₆) are formed of two isoprene units, diterpenes (C₂₀H₃₂) from four, triterpenes (C₃₀H₄₈) from six, and so on. Terpenes are a major component of many plant resins, cannabis being no exception. Most terpenes are strong smelling and often serve the purpose of attracting pollinators or repelling predators. Furthermore, it is thought that certain tree species release terpenes, which react with atmospheric compounds to produce aerosols, which in turn encourage water vapor to form clouds. During hot weather, these trees release higher levels of terpenes, doubling cloud cover and providing a strong cooling effect."
Terpenes are amazing! These organic compounds are naturally occurring and found in many places within the plant world. The genus Cannabis Sativa L. contains some of the highest concentrations of mono and sesqui-terpenes on the planet.
The following is an excerpt from a recent article about the coming demand for terpenes within the cannabis industry.
"Today, we now know of 113 cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the cannabis plant. In the last few years, the focus and attention from researchers and consumers alike have been shifting away from cannabinoids and more to terpenes, a natural substance in all plants, fungi and even some insects. Terpenes are responsible for the unmistakable aroma and flavors of cannabis. Hundreds of individual terpenes have been discovered, and not just in leaves and flowers.They are responsible for the demure aroma of chamomile flowers and the nostalgic smell of a Christmas tree. Many commonly used essential oils contain upwards of 99 percent terpenes.Research on terpenes has shown that cannabis is the only plant with so many individual combinations of terpenes in each phenotype."
Here is a quick video detailing some of the known facts regarding terpenes.
Click on this link for comprehensive articles dealing with terpenes and testing.
Listed here is a description of some common terpenes:
alpha -Pinene : an organic compound of the terpene class, one of two isomers of pinene. It is an alkene and it contains a reactive four-membered ring. It is found in the oils of many species of many coniferous trees, notably the pine.
alpha - Humulene: also known as α-humulene or α-caryophyllene, is a naturally occurring monocyclic sesquiterpene, containing an 11-membered ring and consisting of 3 isoprene units containing three nonconjugated C=C double bonds, two of them being triply substituted and one being doubly substituted.
alpha - Bisabolo: more formally α--bisabolol or also known as levomenol, is a natural monocyclic sesquiterpene alcohol. It is a colorless viscous oil that is the primary constituent of the essential oil from German chamomile and Myoporum crassifolium. It is poorly soluble in water and glycerin, but soluble in ethanol.
3 - Carene: a bicyclic monoterpene consisting of fused cyclohexene and cyclopropane rings. It occurs as a constituent of turpentine, with a content as high as 42% depending on the source. Carene has a sweet and pungent odor, best described as fir needles, musky earth, and damp woodlands combination
Terpinolene: is a monoterpene, part of the terpinene subfamily of terpenes. This family of four isomers is known for being anti-oxidant, immune-modulating and anti-biologically (anti-tumor, antibacterial, antifungal). It has also been used, for hundreds of years, in the treatment on insomnia. Terpinolene is found in oregano, marjoram, cumin, lilac, some citrus rind and conifers.
Linalool: Linalool is simple terpene alcohol, probably best known for the pleasant floral odor it gives to lavender plants. It is also known as β-linalool, licareol and linalyl alcohol. Linalool has been isolated in several hundred different plants including lavenders, citrus, laurels, birch, coriander and rosewood. Linalool has been used for several thousands of years as a sleep aid. Linalool is a critical precursor in the formation of Vitamin E. It has been used in the treatment of both psychosis and anxiety, and as an anti-epileptic agent. It also grants relief from pain and has been used as an analgesic. Its vapors have been shown to be an effective insecticide against fruit flies, fleas and cockroaches.
Limonene: a naturally occurring hydrocarbon, is a cyclic monoterpene with the molecular formula C10H16. It is commonly found in the rinds of citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, lime and, in particular, oranges. Indeed, limonene constitutes 98% (by weight) of the essential oil obtained from orange peel.
Caryophyllene : Oxide the oxidation product of beta-Caryophyllene. It is well known for it’s anti-biological activity against fungus and tumors. It is also anti-oxidant. It may well play a roll in improving uptake of CBD/CBC in the CB2 receptor.
beta - Caryophyllene: a sesquiterpene found in many plants including Thai basils, cloves and black pepper, and has a rich spicy odor. Research has shown that β–Caryophyllene has affinity for the CB2 endocannabinoid receptor. β–Caryophyllene is known to be anti-septic, anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory.
beta - Myrcene: a monoterpene, and for a wide variety of reasons, one of the most important terpenes. It is a precursor in the formation of other terpenes, as well. β-Myrcene is found fresh mango fruit, hops, bay leaves, eucalyptus, lemongrass and many other plants. β-Myrcene is known to be anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and used in the treatment of spasms. It is also used to treat insomnia, and pain. It also has some very special properties, including lowering the resistance across the blood to brain barrier, allowing itself and many other chemicals to cross the barrier easier and more quickly. In the case of cannabinoids, like THC, it allows it to take effect more quickly. More uniquely still, β-Myrcene has been shown to increase the maximum saturation level of the CB1 receptor, allowing for a greater maximum psychoactive effect. For most people, the consumption of a fresh mango, 45 minutes before inhaling cannabis, will result in a faster onset of psycho activity and greater intensity. β-Myrcene can be used in this same manner to improve uptake with a wide variety of chemical compounds.
beta - Pinene: found in allspice. beta-Pinene is widely distributed in plants, usually associated with a-Pinene JPV84-W but in smaller amounts. beta-Pineneis found in lime peel oil, ginger, nutmeg, mace, bitter fennel, rosemary and sage. beta-Pinene is a flavour ingredient.
b - Ocimene: a group of isomeric hydrocarbons. The ocimenes are monoterpenes found within a variety of plants and fruits. α-Ocimene and the two β-ocimenes differ in the position of the isolated double bond: it is terminal in the alpha isomer. α-Ocimene is cis-3,7-dimethyl-1,3,7-octatriene.