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Terpenes are a large class of organic hydrocarbons; they are the part of a cannabis plant that gives cannabis its fragrant aroma. In the form of an oily, fragrant-laced substance, terpenes are secreted from the cannabis flower’s resin glands. The smelly terpenese substance produced by the marijuana plant is used to repel predators and attract beneficial pollinating insects.
When ingested either orally or inhaled as a smoke, terpenes bind to the person’s brain receptors in a similar fashion as the plant’s cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is believed that a combination of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids and the terpenes work together to create the psychoactive ‘high’ reaction. Because terpenes provide the marijuana plant with its telltale aroma, they contribute widely to its aromatherapy applications.
Terpenes should not be confused with terpenoids. Terpenoids are terpenes that have been denatured by oxidation during the drying and curing process of the flowers, or otherwise chemically modified.
More Info on Terpenes
Terpenes have been found to alleviate stress when ingested or smoked. They also appear to aid in sleeping and promote a more acute mental awareness. The aromatic quality of terpenes in the cannabis plant also appeals to connoisseurs of the plant by elevating its desirability, much like the smell of wine or a fine cigar heightens the item’s appeal.
Currently, many strains of cannabis are now being developed to elevate or modify the terpenes of the plant and create more distinct and pleasing aromas. Plus, scientists are working to discover the medicinal benefits of certain terpenes and how they co-exist with the plant’s cannabinoids to create an even more diverse mental and physical reaction.
It should be noted that terpenes are not exclusive to cannabis plants. In fact, they are produced by a variety of plants, especially conifers.