Terpenes are produced in resin glands inside the trichomes of a female flowering Cannabis plant. The distinctive smell and flavour profile in different variants of Cannabis is produced by varying concentrations of up to 150 terpenes and 20 flavonoids.
Some Terpenes such as Linalool, found in Lavender, or Limonene found in the rind of citrus fruits, are very familiar and have been used therapeutically for millennia. These, along with caryophyllene, pinene and myrcene make up the most prevalent terpenes in cannabis.
Flavonoids also contribute to how we feel the effects of different variants of cannabis. Some, like Cannflavins A, B and C are only found in cannabis while others, such as quercetin, can be found in many fruits and vegetables.
In a recent study (nature) where terpenes were combined with cannabinoids, pain-relieving effects were amplified without any increased side effects. It is however important to note that due to the historic restrictions on medicinal research, there is potential for even more evidence to be discovered proving benefits that are currently only anecdotally shared between patients and prescribers.
Some Terpenes enrich colour and pigmentation to attract pollinators while others such as Geraniol serve to repel insects and herbivores, triggering certain self-preservation responses in the plant.
Terpenes are very fragile during the cultivation and production stages, extreme care is essential in preserving them all the way to the consumer.
There is still much to learn about terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids, and current leading research is producing some fascinating findings. As the evidence is discovered and shared it will serve to drive cultivation selection and medicinal application into the future.