What Are Terpenes?“What is a terpene?” “What are terpenes?” “What do terpenes do?” “Are terpenes weed?” As a lesser-discussed botanical element, terpenes can generate a lot of confusion, especially when it comes to Hemp. However, terpenes are found in and produced by almost all plants, not just in hemp. Terpenes are the organic compounds that give plants their scent, smell, and many of their medicinal properties. You may be familiar with terpenes from using essential oils, scented candles, naturally flavored foods, or more. For instance, if you’ve ever smelled a jasmine flower, peeled orange, or a pine-scented car freshener, you’ve already made good use of terpenes. Plants produce terpenes as a part of their immune systems. They protect plants against harsh weather and work to keep off invasive insects, bacteria, and fungi. Terpenes are widely praised for their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and sometimes antiviral properties. Terpenes help plants, but they also have positive impacts on humans and animals. While terpenes are not psychoactive in the way THC is, many of these compounds affect the body and mind and are considered bioactive. Some terpenes, such as curcumin, naturally occurring in turmeric, have long been used in traditional medicine as an anti-inflammatory. Like the phytoncides found in conifer trees, others have beneficial effects on the lungs and mind, as studies of Japanese forest bathing have shown. Terpenes are not exclusive to specific plants. Different herbs, spices, and plants will often share strains of terpenes that give them similar scents or properties. For instance, linalool, a terpene that gives lavender its distinctive soothing fragrance, is also found in some varieties of cannabis, as well as sweet basil, sweet orange, and bay leaves. Linalool is even used as an additive in some cleaning and beauty products because of its de-stressing and lightly insecticidal qualities.
Cannabis TerpenesWhen you think of terpenes in weed or hemp, you might think of different strains of the cannabis plant. However, all hemp plants have terpenes. Terpene distribution does not necessarily depend on Sativa leaf or Indica varieties. Terpenes are produced within the hemp plant using specialized hairs, called trichomes. Trichomes are located on both the stems and leaves of the plant and usually run along the surface. They are responsible for creating the plant’s resin and give cannabis its distinctive musky odor and flavor. Some of the factors that influence the development of different terpenes in cannabis are:
- Harvest time
- Age of the plant