As the cannabis plant, and medical marijuana, become more mainstream, science is proving what humans have known for centuries: cannabis is a means by which patients can seek and receive holistic wellness.

The healing cannabis plant is complex and most notably known for the compounds THC and CBD. As researchers dive into the depths of the cannabinoid system it is becoming clear that cannabis terpenes are just as vital to a plant’s efficacy as are THC and CBD.

Terpenes appear in abundance within nature, and it’s estimated that over 20,000 terpenes exist within our ecosystems. Every single plant, herb, flower, vegetable and fruit possess terpenes; and each terpene serves a very specific purpose. Terpenes contribute to the characteristic odor and flavor of any plant.

Hundreds of different terpenes have been discovered within the Cannabis plant, and they are generally classified as primary and secondary terpenes, based on how frequent they occur in cannabis. The odor represents a distinction between cannabis varieties which indicates that different plants can offer different benefits.

The terpenes, or terpenoids, form the largest group of phytochemicals, and account for some medicinal properties of cannabis, as well as many medicinal herbs, plants and essential oils. They are the source of flavors, aromas, and other characteristics that help differentiate cannabis strains. Furthermore, it is thought that the terpenes within plants aid in pest-control and as an antifungal agent.

Paduch, Kandefer-Szerszeń, Trytek and Fiedurek, in their article titled “Terpenes: Substances Useful in Human Healthcare,” established that “Terpenes are naturally occurring substances produced by a wide variety of plants and animals. A broad range of the biological properties of terpenoids is described, including cancer chemopreventive effects, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antihyperglycemic, anti-inflammatory and antiparasitic activities.”

Up next: Cannabis Terpenes, Part 3: A Few of Our Favorite Terpenes

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