One of the easiest ways to identify hemp-related products is by its distinctive smell. The study of hemp has revealed that, in addition to cannabinoids, this plant also contains terpenes. Today it’s estimated that between 10% and 30% of what makes up the smell of cannabis comes from this component.
Terpenes are one of the most relevant constituents of various plants’ essential oils. They also act as a pigment, and their characteristics make up the odors, which serve for many plants’ defense. Hemp has more than a hundred terpenes and enjoys many of its properties.
Chemically speaking, terpenes are organic compounds that come from derivations of isoprene, which is a hydrocarbon with five carbon atoms. For this reason, terpenes are also known as isoprenoids.
In any case, terpenes are part of the essential oils of plants of all kinds, before which they have acquired relevance. Many plants and some animals have traces of these organic compounds, but the number of terpenes is much lower in the latter.
A large number of terpenes are associated with the plant’s structures where they are present. These can accumulate, generating defense mechanisms by creating different colors or odors.
How terpenes relate to hemp?
Terpenes are what define the different aromas of these plants. Since there are many terpenes and other variants of cannabis, the fragrances are usually varied.
There are many terpenes in hemp. Currently, after many years of research, at least 100 terpenes have been identified. These are, mainly, belonging to two types: monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, and each one of them have unique properties related to them.
Among the monoterpenes, we have limonene, which gives a smell similar to lemon depending on its proportions and varieties. Other known terpenes of this variant are myrcene, pinene, eucalyptol, and linalool. All of them have names referring to other plants and their traditional scents. They are related to the alleviation of anxiety and, in some cases, cancer treatment.
The most common monoterpene in the world is myrcene. It is mainly composed of thyme oil; its smell is earthy and may resemble that of cloves. However, its presence in nature is vast, being found massively in mango and other trees such as lemongrass. One of its primary functions is sedative, which is why it’s taken into account in treatments against insomnia.
On the other hand, there are also different terpenes of the sesquiterpenes type. The best known is caryophyllene, which is present in the different varieties of the plant. This terpene is also found in black pepper and has anti-inflammatory properties.
It is increasingly common to see products that come from hemp terpenes. However, sometimes these products refer to terpenes from other plants mixed with hemp extract. Although the extraction does not usually come from cannabis as such, the effect is quite similar.
Every time you see an essential oil in a store, it will have to do with terpenes, since they are one of their key ingredients. Essential oils have many therapeutic properties. And they can be applied in aromatherapy techniques for different purposes.
Terpenes’ importance goes beyond a good smell. Their variety shows that it is not only about delicious fragrances but also about specific properties. In conjunction with the rest of a plant’s components, it can directly benefit human health.
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