As interest in the medical cannabis industry grows, science is dissecting the cannabis plant even further to understand just how the complicated plant can heal humans, and animals. There is archeological evidence that proves that humans have used cannabis for at least 10,000 years; recorded history, for at least 5,000 years.
Cannabis has been a source of food, fuel, paper, and building materials, a textile fiber, and a folk medicine remedy for thousands of years. THC and CBD are two popular cannabinoids, and have been used medicinally for centuries. But now, science has proven that there’s far more to the cannabis plant than just those two beneficial compounds. Cannabis also has terpenes. Terpenes are can be thought of like the essential oils of the cannabis plant. These oils emit scents and flavors which contribute to the plant’s efficacy.
Terpenes are found throughout the the plant world. 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.
Terpenes are aromatic molecules which are produced within the glands of cannabis flowers and buds. Some scents are considered sweet and fruity while other Terpenes are woodsy, pungent, earthy or skunky. While Terpenes give each cannabis strain a unique scent and flavor, these chemical compounds also contribute to the therapeutic effects that patient’s feel.
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.”
Additionally, the team stated that “Terpenes are also presented as skin penetration enhancers and agents involved in the prevention and therapy of several inflammatory diseases. Moreover, a potential mechanism of their action against pathogens and their influence on skin permeability are discussed. The major conclusion is that larger-scale use of terpenoids in modern medicine should be taken into consideration.”
Humulene is a terpene common to hops, clove, basil and black pepper. Its scent is reminiscent of a spicy-woodsy-earthy aroma. Some of this terpene’s benefits include:
- Tumor/growth reduction
One study conducted on mice to determine the time that it takes for terpenes process through the system concluded that “alpha-humulene exhibited a rapid onset and relatively good absorption following oral and topical administration. Taken together, these findings further contribute to an explanation of the topical and systemic anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties previously reported for the essential oil and for alpha-humulene .”
Some strains that are known to possess humulene include :
When terpenes and cannabinoids interact together, there is a heightened efficacy for medical marijuana patients. Patients should speak with their certified medical marijuana physician to determine which strains and methods of consumption are most appropriate for their medical conditions.