What are Terpenes and What do They do?

When you smell cannabis, what you’re actually smelling is a range of compounds called terpenes. Like wine, cannabis is as unique and varied as it is flavorful due to its terpenes. As this plant grows increasingly popular to treat conditions like chronic pain and PTSD, it is helpful to explore the healing capabilities of its herbaceous attributes. Even those unfamiliar with cannabis will instantly recognize its pungent scent. Just as fine wine is sniffed before it is imbibed to unleash the fullest expression of its flavors, medical cannabis offers an equally intricate sensory experience.

While terpene molecules in cannabis produce aromas that ward off bacteria, fungi, and insects, they inversely attract humans. It helps that they produce scents as universally appealing as Linalool, the floral odor in lavender; Citronellol, found in citrus rind; Humulene, the hoppy aroma of beer; β–Caryophyllene, the terpene found in basil, cloves, and black pepper; and α-Pinene, the sweet odor found in conifer trees.

Now researchers are exploring whether terpenes, as potential antivirals, may help treat COVID-19. One Israeli lab is studying how terpenes might lessen, but not totally suppress, the body’s intense immune response to the coronavirus. In a second study, this same lab is researching which cannabis molecules might make it difficult for the virus to enter human cells. 

The versatile power of terpenes elicits the popular wisdom that if a food is pleasing to the senses, then the body craves whatever specific nutrients it has to offer. If flavor and scent are measures of healing, then medicine is meant to taste good. Refine your palate this week with any of our available products.

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