Found in many plants and even in some insects, terpenes are aromatic oils that carry with them many health benefits. Terpenes are also ubiquitous within biological processes, often serving as precursors for many hormones in the body.
Because of their molecular structure, terpenes are highly volatile. Their constant degradation and evaporation is what allows terpenes to be so easily detected by smell. Most of the terpenes in the cannabis family are monoterpenes, the most sensitive kind.
The Hemp plant is unique in that it contains over one hundred of the terpenes more commonly found in other plants. For example, it contains a-pinene from pine trees and limonene from lemons. This inclusive trait makes capitalizing on phenotypic plasticity and creating new ‘strains’, which contain different terpene profiles, relatively simple.
The terpenes found in hemp benefit the plant by repelling insects. They also benefit us by repelling disease. Terpenes exert anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of cannabinoids – some even bind to ECS receptors! Overall, terpenes tend to strengthen the bioavailabity of the cannabinoids they come packaged with. This is referred to as the “entourage effect”, a term coined by pioneering researcher Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. By taking Hemp, one is basically participating in a very diversified form of aromatherapy.