What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are found in many plants but are commonly associated with cannabis. More than 120 different types have been identified and each cannabis strain has a unique terpene type and composition. Several of these are known to have medicinal effects which may vary in efficacy due to the entourage effect.

At Liberty Health Sciences (LHS), we are able to provide a more comprehensive and personalized approach for all of your patient’s needs by knowing the composition of our strains and the mix of terpenes that is found in each. This article will focus on the most common terpenes found, their effects as seen in various research studies and the strains that contain the highest quantities of each.

4 Terpenes to Consider

(and what products you can find them in)

Caryophyllene is a terpene that is found in many herbs and spices such as black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, hops and rosemary. It is the only terpene that has been shown to also act as a cannabinoid since it activates the CB2 receptor which is mostly found in our peripheral endocannabinoid system. Various studies in mice have shown its effects as an analgesic, at improving neuropathic pain, at reducing inflammation in mice with induced colitis, at improving mood disorders such as anxiety and depression and in preventing cognitive impairment by reducing the levels of proinflammatory cytokines. In this last study, the researchers concluded that caryophyllene can reduce the neuroinflammatory response seen in Alzheimer’s disease by activating the CB2 receptor. The two cannabis strains provided at LHS with the highest amount of caryophyllene are Chemdawg and Mango Haze.

Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis. It is commonly found in lemongrass, hops, thyme, basil and mangos. It has been shown to be useful as a sleep aid since it has sedative effects. Limited studies in mice show that myrcene can have muscle relaxant effects as well as sedative effects. The strains that we offer at LHS that are known to have a high myrcene content are Blue Dream and Super A5. This terpene is also useful for patients that have insomnia and chronic pain.

Limonene is another terpene that is popular as an additive in foods, cosmetics and cleaning products. It is mostly found in the rind of citrus fruits and it is commonly found in trace amounts in many strains. Research studies done on limonene have used high-doses which is not what is commonly found in cannabis. Regardless, it has been shown to provide anxiety and stress relief. Studies have also found that a limonene supplement may inhibit the growth and spread of certain breast and skin tumors . Our strains with the highest concentration of limonene include Super A5 and Flo.

Lastly, pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature. It is found in coniferous trees, pine needles, eucalyptus, rosemary, dill, basil and parsley. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity, to work as a bronchodilator, anxiolytic and analgesic. We offer Blue Dream as the strain with the highest pinene content. There are many other terpenes found in cannabis that have medicinal properties. As more research continues to be done, I am sure we will find many more medical benefits provided by these compounds.

1 (Katsuyama, et al., 2013)
2 (Klauke, et al., 2014)
3 (Freire Bento, et al., 2011)
4 (Bahi, et al., 2014)
5 (Cheng, Dong, & Liu, 2014)
6 (Gurgel do Vale, Couto Furtado, Santos Jr, & Viana, 2002)
7 (Lima, et al., 2013)
8 (Miller, et al., 2013)
9 (Chaudhary, Siddiqui, Athar, & Sarwar Alam, 2012)

About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Timothee

Medical Director, Liberty Health Sciences

Dr. Timothee was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and completed a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida. Once she completed undergraduate school, she moved back to tropical Puerto Rico for medical school and did her residency in Emergency Medicine for which she is currently board certified.

Post medical school, Dr. Timothee moved back to Florida and started practicing medicine as an emergency physician where she has worked at various hospitals since 2013.

With her educational and occupational background in science/medicine she brings value into our
organization through training, physicians outreach, and new product development.

Works Cited

Bahi, A., Al Mansouri, S., Al Memari, E., Al Ameri, M., Nurulain, S., & Ojha, S. (2014). ß-Caryophyllene, a CB2 receptor agonist produces multiple behavioral changes relevant to anxiety and depression in mice. Physiology and Behavior, 119-124.

Chaudhary, S., Siddiqui, M., Athar, M., & Sarwar Alam, M. (2012). D-limonene modulates inflammation, oxidative stress and Ras-ERK pathway to inhibit murine skin tumorigenesis. Human and Experimental Toxicology, 798-811.

Cheng, Y., Dong, Z., & Liu, S. (2014). ß-Caryophyllene Ameliorates the Alzheimer-Like Phenotype in APP/PS1 Mice through CB2 Receptor Activation and the PPARy Pathway. Pharmacology, 1-12.

Freire Bento, A., Marcon, R., Cypriano Dutra, R., Cola, M., Ferraz Pereira Leite, D., & Calixto, J. B. (2011). ß-Caryophyllene Inhibits Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis in Mice through CB2 Receptor Activation and PPARY pathway. The American Journal of Pathology, 1153-1166.

Gurgel do Vale, T., Couto Furtado, E., Santos Jr, J. G., & Viana, G. (2002). Central effects of citral, myrcene and limonene, constituents of essential oil chemotypes from Lippia alba (Mill.) n.e. Brown. Phytomedicine, 709-14.

Katsuyama, S., Mizoguchi, H., Kuwahata, H., Komatsu, T., Nagaoka, K., Nakamura, H., . . . Sakurada, S. (2013). Involvement of peripheral cannabinoid and opioid reeptors in ß-caryophyllene-induced antinociception . European Journal of Pain, 664-75.

Kim, D.-S., Lee, H.-J., Jeon, Y.-D., Han, Y.-H., Kee, J.-Y., Kim, H.-J., . . . Hong, S.-H. (2015). Alpha-Pinene Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Activity Through the Suppression of MAPKs and the NF-kB Pathway in Mouse Peritoneal Macrophages. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 731-42.

Klauke, A. L., Racz, I., Pradier, B., Markert, A., Zimmer, A. M., Gertsch, J., & Zimmer, A. (2014). The cannabinoid CB2 receptor-selective phytocannabinoid ß-caryophyllene analgesic effects in mouse models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 608-620.

Lima, N., De Sousa, D., Pimenta, F., Alves, M., De Souza, F., Macedo, R., . . . Nobrega de Almeida, R. (2013). Anxiolytic-like activity and GC-MS analysis of (R)-(+)-limonene fragrance, a natural compound found in food and plants. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 450-454.

Miller, J., Lang, J., Ley, M., Nagle, R., Hsu, C.-H., Thompson, P. A., . . . Sherry Chow, H.-H. (2013). Human breast tissue disposition and bioactivity of limonene in women with early-stage breast cancer. Cancer Prevention Research, 577-84.

Kim, D.-S., Lee, H.-J., Jeon, Y.-D., Han, Y.-H., Kee, J.-Y., Kim, H.-J., . . . Hong, S.-H. (2015). Alpha-Pinene Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Activity Through the Suppression of MAPKs and the NF-kB Pathway in Mouse Peritoneal Macrophages. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 731-42.