Terpenes in hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) are responsible for the strong aromatics associated with the plant. Terpenes have a variety of functions in the plant, and in particular the aroma produced acts as insect/herbivore repellents while also protecting the plant from pathogens and competition from vegetation. Hence, the reason why no pesticides or herbicides are required during hemp cultivation. Additionally, terpenes are common flavour and fragrance enhancing food additives in the human diet and in cosmetic products (soaps/ perfumes).
These terpenes are found in the trichomes, a hair like appendage, visible on the flower and leaf of the hemp plant. The composition of terpenes varies depending on the variety of hemp, however hemp contains over 200 types of terpenes. Some of the more well-known terpenes include limonene (found in citrus fruits), pinene (present in rosemary & eucalyptus oil), bisabolol (found in oils of camomile), Caryophyllene (black pepper), and linalool (found in lavender).
Cannabis terpenes still remain relatively understudied, however it is suggested that cannabinoids mediate some functional effects of terpenes. Therefore, the co-consumption of cannabinoids with terpenes may result in a synergistic response, more commonly referred to as the “entourage effect”, and has the potential of being of therapeutic relevance. Recently there does seem to be a renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of terpenes, with a growing body of evidence for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.