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Breakdown on Terpenes

  • 2 min read

Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018, terpenes have become a relatively well-known term. Terpenes can be found in plants such as cannabis, herbs like lavender, fruits like citrus, and other plants such as hops. 

Terpenes exist in a variety of plants and have been extracted for use in a number of products for many years, but only recently has their application for health benefits become a point of discussion. The research on how terpenes affect health are novel and new, but the application of terpenes in many household items have been used for years. Now, TerpWell is exploring the health benefits and how terpenes can be used to assist in various parts of our overall day-to-day lifestyle.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are the aromatic oil compounds found in plants of many variations. Terpenes are often found in herbs such as thyme and sage, in flowers like lavender, and in citrus fruits. Terpenes are typically credited for their aromatic properties but are also responsible for the tastes and flavours within these plants, particularly their extracts. 

As a matter of fact, ‘terpene’ is derived from an old spelling of ‘turpentine.’ Turpentine itself includes such terpenes as pinene, which is scented like pine; carene, which has a woody scent; camphene, which has an earthy aroma; limonene, which has the scent of lemon; and finally, terpinene, emulating the scent mixture of gas and pine. 

How do Terpenes function?

Terpenes are often naturally produced in plants for two reasons: defence and attraction. Some terpenes attract natural enemies of their attacking herbivores, while others are released from natural stressors such as drought or temperature changes. Although we know that terpenes have these functions in plants, their natural volatility and complexity makes it difficult to attribute a specific function to a specific terpene as they exist in nature.

Terpenes are used for their aromatic and flavourful properties in various household commodities spanning from cleaning supplies to natural health products, like TerpWell’s blends. Terpenes are also frequently used in cosmetics, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, and to flavour food and drink. Today, we most often hear about terpenes as related to the cannabis sativa plant, but they exist in many plants, including hops–the plant from which TerpWell most often derives its terpenes.