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Terpenes are organic compounds that give cannabis its unique aroma and flavor. These compounds are formed in the same resinous trichomes as cannabinoids and work alongside them to provide therapeutic benefits. Terpenes bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and body as cannabinoids, and depending on which receptors they interact with, they can induce sleep, reduce stress, or even increase energy.

The entourage effect occurs when terpenes work together with cannabinoids, enhancing their therapeutic potentials. Terpenes can also affect how much of each cannabinoid is absorbed, which can control the potency of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. This means that a strain of medical cannabis with the perfect mix of terpenes and cannabinoids can be tailored to treat specific conditions.

Let's dive into some of the most commonly found terpenes and their potential therapeutic benefits:

Limonene: This terpene is responsible for the citrusy aroma found in some strains of cannabis. Limonene is believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant properties. It may also have potential as an anti-tumor agent.

Linalool: Linalool has a floral aroma and is found in lavender, as well as some strains of cannabis. It is believed to have sedative and anti-anxiety properties, making it a potential treatment for conditions like insomnia and anxiety.

Myrcene: Myrcene is found in many strains of cannabis and has a musky, earthy aroma. It is believed to have sedative and analgesic properties, making it a potential treatment for conditions like pain, inflammation, and insomnia.

Pinene: Pinene has a distinct pine aroma and is found in pine trees as well as some strains of cannabis. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator properties, making it a potential treatment for conditions like asthma and pain.

Humulene: This terpene is commonly found in hops and is also present in certain strains of cannabis. Humulene is known for its earthy, woody aroma and has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It may also exhibit anti-cancer effects by inhibiting tumor growth.

Ocimene: Characterized by its sweet, herbal, and woody aroma, ocimene is a terpene found in a variety of plants including cannabis. Ocimene is believed to possess anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Additionally, it may serve as a decongestant and could have potential applications in respiratory conditions.

In conclusion, terpenes play a crucial role in the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis. By working in tandem with cannabinoids, terpenes can enhance the efficacy of treatments and provide tailored relief for specific conditions. Understanding the different terpenes found in cannabis can help patients and healthcare professionals alike in selecting the right strain for their needs.

  1. McDougall, Jason J., and Meagan K. McKenna. "Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Properties of the Cannabis Terpene Myrcene in Rat Adjuvant Monoarthritis." Int J Mol Sci, vol. 23, no. 14, 17 Jul. 2022, pp. 7891, doi: 10.3390/ijms23147891.

  2. Salehi, Bahare, et al. "Therapeutic Potential of α- and β-Pinene: A Miracle Gift of Nature." Biomolecules, vol. 9, no. 11, 14 Nov. 2019, pp. 738, doi: 10.3390/biom9110738.


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