CBD and THC are the rockstars of the cannabis world, the main drivers of the many medicinal and enjoyable effects cannabis is known for. But these two do not rock your world in isolation: they work with a vast array of supporting actors to increase potency and to deliver different qualities of experience. Chief among these actors are terpenes, a large group of aromatic essential oils that are responsible for fragrance and taste. In addition to providing a distinctive flavor and aroma to different strains of cannabis, terpenes bring medicinal benefits like reducing inflammation, and qualities such as uplifting mood or relieving anxiety.

Chemically, CBD and THC are terpenes, but we stick to calling them cannabinoids because we only associate them with cannabis.  There are as many as 200 different terpenes that can be found in various cannabis varieties, and all of them are also found in a wide variety of other plants, often with tell-tale names: pinene (dominant in pine), limonene (familiar in lemons and other citrus), humulene (named after the hops genus). The multitude of medicinal properties of terpenes, and the concentration of different benefits found in a single terpene, give rise to the overlapping synergies between terpenes. These synergies in turn support and augment the action of CBD in helping to balance the physiology.

THC has been said to represent the masculine principal in cannabis, working directly via CB1 receptors and to a lesser degree CB2 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system. Its most apparent action is as a neurochemical that works in a way similar to that of the body’s own anandamide.  CBD is said to represent the feminine principle because it works indirectly through the same receptors, inhibiting the enzyme that metabolizes and destroys anandamide.

Although its action is indirect, CBD is powerful enough to be credited with an impressive list of medicinal properties. Research has shown it to be anti-cancer, anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-psoriatic, analgesic, anti-epileptic, antipsychotic, anxiolytic… the list goes on. Overall, CBD is found to improve balance in the body and mind, to support better functioning both physical and mental. But a funny thing happened when CBD and THC were given to patients without their compliment of terpenes- the benefits received were a disappointingly poor substitute for what patients were used to with a natural, whole plant product.

The terpene profile of a CBD herbal tincture reflects the particular cannabis strains that were extracted to make the tincture. The emphasis on different medicinal qualities will change as the varieties change, which is why the astute CBD user will be interested to know which terpenes are most present in a particular tincture product. Here, listed in order of quantity, are the most prominent terpenes in our current Soul Mountain tinctures:

Trans-Caryophyllene: Neuroprotective, this terpene can reduce both chronic and acute pain, can reduce neuroinflammation, and may prove valuable for treating pancreatic cancer by regulating metabolic fuel homeostasis. Found in a variety of plants used for food and tea, including cloves, basil, oregano, black pepper, lavender and rosemary, caryphyllene is unusual in that it activates the CB2 receptor. The cannabis 2 receptor sites connect cannabinoids to up-regulate or down-regulate such important functions as immune response, inflammation response, and muscle response. Caryophyllene is the only non-cannabinoid terpene known to directly act on the endocannabinoid system.

Alpha-Humulene: Often found together with caryophyllene, this terpene is a main component of the essential oil found in hops. Familiar in Chinese medicine as a treatment for inflammation, humulene is also considered anti-tumor, antibacterial, and good for suppressing appetite.

Caryophyllene Oxide: an oxidized form of caryophllene, this terpene is anti-fungal and can act as a vasodilator to counteract reduced blood flow. 

Alpha-Cedrine: Named for cedar, this terpene has traditionally been used as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, astringent, and diuretic.

Linalool: Found in lavender, coriander, and other plants known for their calming effects, linalool’s benefits include anti-anxiety, antidepressant, sedative, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, analgesic, and immune system boosting. Research has indicated value in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Borneol: Found in many traditional Chinese herbal formulas, borneol-rich herbs are used to improve digestion, tone the heart and improve circulation, treat bronchitis, coughs and colds, and reduce swelling. Also promotes relaxation.

Alpha-Bisbolol: Produced by chamomile flowers as well as cannabis, this terpene appears to have benefits as an anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, antioxidant, anti-microbial, and analgesic.

Guiol: Known to be antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, guiol is actually an alcohol and not an oil.  Found in cypress pine and other plants, it has traditionally been used for a wide range of ailments that express as infection and inflammation.

Alpha-Terpineol: Prominent in pine oil, this is a monoterpene alcohol with a distinctive piney fragrance and citrus-like flavor. It is well established as an antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Trans-Nerolidol: Also found in ginger and citronella, this terpene is valued for its relaxant, anti-fungal and anti-malarial effects.

Terpinolene: Close to apha-terpineol in its flavor and fragrance, terpinolene is antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and calming. It has been found to be effective in reducing anxiety and aiding sleep, and at least one study has found it to inhibit proliferation of several kinds of cancer cells.

Ocimene Peak 2: In general, ocimene is considered antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic, decongestant, and antibacterial. It is also found in a wide variety of plants, including mango, basil, pepper, parsley and mint- as well as cannabis.

Beta-Myrcene: The last of the terpenes to register as a major player in Soul Mountain tinctures is, ironically, the most common terpene found in cannabis. Known for its sedative and relaxant qualities, myrcene is a potent analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and antimutagenic. Research suggests it may be helpful in preventing peptic ulcer disease as well as cancer, and it is considered ideal for the treatment of insomnia and pain. Myrcene is found in mangoes, hops, bay leaves, thyme, lemongrass and basil, as well as cannabis.