Terpenes can be classified as primary or secondary, depending on their role: Primary terpenes are essential for plant growth and development, while secondary terpenes are involved in plant defenses. Below is a list of the primary types of terpenes and their characteristics
- Pinene gives marijuana its earthy, pine-like flavor and spicy, herbal notes. This terpene crosses the blood-brain barrier and promotes memory retention and alertness by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholinesterase, which is a chemical found in the brain. It also acts as both a bronchodilator and an anti-inflammatory.
- Caryophyllene has a peppery flavor and a spicy, earthy aroma with citrus notes. It is the only terpene known to act on the endocannabinoid system, which regulates a variety of physiological processes, including pain sensation and inflammation. Activation of the CB2 receptors by caryophyllene is instrumental in enhancing marijuana’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
- Humulene gives marijuana its robust, woody flavor and spicy, herbal notes. This terpene possesses anti-inflammatory properties and acts as an appetite suppressant.
- Linalool has a floral flavor reminiscent of lavender, with the addition of spicy overtones. It exhibits powerful analgesic and anti-seizure properties and is partly responsible for the sedative effects of certain marijuana strains. It also has strong antibacterial, anti-cancer and antifungal effects.
- Myrcene is the most common terpene found in marijuana, and it is also present in bay, thyme, hops and lemongrass. This musky terpene is a potent analgesic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, and its concentration determines whether a strain has an energizing or sedative effect. Strains containing more than 0.5 percent of myrcene have a sedative effect, while strains containing less than 0.5 percent myrcene produce an energizing effect.
- Terpinolene has a woody flavor and is responsible for many of the floral notes characteristic of Jack Herer varieties of marijuana. It has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-cancer and sedative properties.
- Limonene is most often found in sativa strains of marijuana and has a citrus flavor reminiscent of oranges. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and it is known to activate enzymes that stimulate the liver and increase bile flow, which in turn aids digestion. Studies show that limonene can also help treat anxiety and depression.