What is a Terpene?

Terpenes are a variety of organic compounds naturally produced by plants that result in an eclectic aroma and odor. Over 120 different terpene compounds have been identified in the cannabis sativa plant, and every strain has a unique type and composition. Professionals today have continued identifying terpenes in cannabis, and they discover new strains and varieties regularly. They are produced inside specialized hairs, called trichomes, located on the surface of the leaves and stems of plants. Terpenes are cyclic, organic hydrocarbons, with the molecular formula C10H16. These represent a major component of the plant’s sticky resin and are produced by the same glands that produce other components in cannabis, such as THC and CBD. These oils offer distinctive scents and can be found in berries, vanilla, rosemary, citrus, and pepper. Terpenes in cannabis not only are the cause of the flower’s fragrant aroma and color, but also work in conjunction with cannabinoids to elicit a specific type of treatment/effect. Terpenes bind to receptors in the brain within the Endocannabinoid System, which is responsible for a variety of physiological processes, and elicit certain specific responses depending on the strain combinations. 

The specific constitution and ratio of terpenes in cannabis plants is based on various factors.  Strain genetics, as well as cultivation methods, can affect the types of terpenes found in a certain plant. Therefore, identifying terpenes in cannabis and how they are constituted can play an instrumental role in establishing medical terpene benefits and assist in the recreational market. 

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