All plants get their aroma, colour, and flavour from naturally existing compounds that are found in all species of plants (and even some animals). 

These compounds, called terpenes or terpenoids, play a central role in medicinal properties, therapeutic benefits, and individual effects of plant-based medicines, and play an important role in the impact of plant-medicine on the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

They are also one of the most abundant compounds in the world.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes have been used and applied for thousands of years in herbal medicine. All plants contain and synthesise several hundred terpenoid compounds as a part of their chemical makeup, and medicinal properties..
These terpene compounds are considered the essential oils of plant life and are regarded as a cofactor in overall therapeutic benefits. Terpenes are a type of organic compound and are also responsible for giving plants their distinct aroma and flavour, and can even be found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

How Do Terpenes Work? 

Terpenes have two distinct counterparts: 

As a compound, terpenes can have a wide and varied influence on the effects of plant-medicine and plant-based therapies and work synergistically with both cannabinoids and flavonoids; plant compounds with a variety of health benefits. This is known as the Entourage Effect, where each compound influences the effect of the other – in harmony.

Terpenes + the Endocannabinoid System 

According to research, terpenes have the ability to work with the endocannabinoid system to augment therapeutic effects, suggesting that cannabinoids and terpenes work together to change the body’s endocannabinoid tone through the body’s own Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Different terpene profiles can influence the effects and impacts of cannabinoids, ultimately creating individual responses to varying compounds. 

Terpenes can influence the ECS in different ways, but can have energising, uplifting effects, or calming, relaxing effects (to name a few). In addition to their effects on mood and energy levels, terpenes show other potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, while others have been shown to have analgesic (pain-relieving) effects.
At Ananda Clinics, we rely on The Ananada Way (link to Our Approach Page) to establish the precise ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes to regulate and influence the body’s Endocannabinoid System in specific ways. By tailoring each prescription for each patient, plant-based medicine can be apply in very specific ways to produce very specific outcomes.

Common Terpenes in Plant-Based Medicine 

In nature terpenes might be present in a citrus plant, acting as a natural citrus repellent to bugs, in lavender as a calming aroma, and in pine needles, lending the signature pine scent. 

Just like in nature, terpenes found in plant-based medicine can have unique physiological benefits and can impact a variety of symptoms. 

Myrcene (mur-seen): The most widely cultivated and abundantly dominant terpene

Limonene (LIM-o-neen): can modulate certain immune cell behaviours and is safe for therapeutic supplementation 

Caryophyllene  (carry-OFF-uh-leen): only terpene that interacts with the body as an cannabinoid

Pinene  (PIE-neen): most abundant in nature

Linalool  (LINN-uh-lool): the most important company in aromatherapy for its calming and anti-anxiety effects

Ocimene  (Oh-sih-mene): most commonly used in perfumes and fragrance 

How could terpenes be used to create a healthier Endocannabinoid System and alleviate your symptoms?

Find out more by Booking an appointment with a GP.

DISCLAIMER: The Ananda Clinics blog is here to provide education and information, without implying medical advice, or recommendation for the use of cannabis as medicine or adult use purposes.

Medical cannabis remains strictly regulated by the Australian TGA as it is not a registered therapeutic agent due to the lack of research and evidence in support of its efficacy or potential side effects.

If you think medical cannabis may be right for you, book an appointment with one of our doctors to find out more.

Author: Ananda Clinics
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Jamie Rickcord MBBS., BSc., FRACGP