Want to buy terpenes? We offer a wide choice of pure terpenes and terpene products!
You can now buy terpenes online in our extensive healthshop as well. We do not just offer these important and extremely beneficial plant ingredients as pure terpenes, but also as a complete terpene profile as these can be found in particular cannabis plants.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes, also known as isoprene derivatives, come from plants and can be found as natural ingredients in countless plants, including in cannabis plants (hemp and weed) as well. This large group of organic molecules, which are produced naturally in plants, can also be from animal origin in exceptional cases, as has been observed in some insects like termites and some caterpillar/butterfly species.
Some caterpillars for instance can extend a forked organ (osmeterium) when danger threathens, which wards off enemies from the powerful scent of the terpenes released. Some water beetles also possess the ability to excrete certain terpenes which can drive off harmful predators.
Strong smelling aroma of terpenes
Terpenes, which are known for the strong smelling aroma they produce, offer a protective ability for plants. The potent scents can chase away harmful bacteria, fungi, plant eaters (herbivores) and other unwanted guests so they do not damage the plant.
Instead of scaring off the natural enemies of the plant, the scent of certain terpenes can also attract useful insects. This can be of major importance for the cross-pollination of plants. Besides this important function they offer many other beneficial biological functions, including for example the protection against intense sunlight.
Terpenes are useful for both plant and human
Besides terpenes causing the plant to stay healthy, recent studies have shown terpenes can also fullfill an important function in the human body. Because of this the consumption of plants and herbs with specific terpenes can be of great value to healthiness. Hemp- and weed plants also hold large concentrations of these useful terpenes and thusly offer benefits for the human body.
Difference between a terpene, terpiniol and terpenoid
Terpiniols (alcohols) and terpenoids (isoprenoids) are derivative groups of terpenes. Contrary to terpenes, which are made up of only carbon and hydrogen (alkane or acyclic saturated hydrocarbon), these have additional functional compounds paired with alcohol, aldehyde or ketone groups. The three terms are often mixed up.
Terpenes belong to the largest group of plant components
Terpenes belong to the largest group of plant components by far and researchers have by now identified 48,000 structures, of which 8,000 are categorised as terpenes and 40,000 as terpenoids. Despite that these structures are all varied, they all have the same basic precursor (preceding substance). This organic precursor, which is known as isopentenyl diphosphate, or IDP, consists of five carbon atoms and is created from acetic acid.
The classification of terpenes is done on the basis of the number of carbon atoms from which they are constructed. This is indicated with the letter C. The prefix which is present in the names, is based on the number of terpene units that the molecule is constructed of. So for instance the hemiterpenes belong to the half terpenes with five carbon atoms (C5) and the word 'mono' in monoterpenes stands for the number 1. 'Sesqui' stands for 1.5, 'di' for 2 and 'tri' for 3.
- Hemiterpenes (C5)
- Monoterpenes (C10)
- Sesquiterpenes (C15)
- Diterpenes (C20)
- Sesterterpenes (C25)
- Triterpenes (C30)
- Sesquarterpenes (C35)
- Tetraterpenes (C40)
- Polyterpenes (>C40)
Mono- and sesquiterpenes are an important ingredient of the essential oil a plant has, while terpenes that have a higher number of carbon atoms are mainly to be found in resin, wax and rubber. One example of this is isoprene rubber, a polyterpene with over forty carbon atoms.
An example of a tetraterpene with 40 carbon atoms is β-carotene (beta-carotene), a well-known ingredient of carrots. Known examples of monoterpenes with 10 carbon atoms are myrcene, pinene and sabinene, which all three can be found in cannabis. Myrcene is furthermore also a well-known ingredient in hop, pinene in pine resins and sabinene in chamomile.
What is the biological function of mono- and sesquiterpenes?
Mono- and sesquiterpenes, which are distinguishable by their powerful aroma, make up a beneficial ingredient in the essential oils from plants. This volatile oil, which is produced in various parts of the plant, gives off a overpowering scent that is released by heat amongst other things.
This characteristic smell of the terpenes hangs around the plant like a haze which repels all kinds of unwanted enemies like fungi, parasites, bacteria and harmful insects. Specific scents of terpenes can furthermore also have the opposite function of rather attracting beneficial insects. Some insects which are important for the cross-pollination of the plant for instance, find the scent in question rather very pleasurable and are attracted by it.
The scent of a terpene can also act as an aid in a possible attack from an unwanted guest. By giving off a particular scent during an attack, a natural enemy of the unwanted intruder is alerted, which means the intruder can be neutralised in time and major damage to the plant can be prevented.
Long history in traditional medicine
Despite the fact researchers have only recently identified a large group of terpenes, the Chinese have known since 3000 years BC that the essential oils in plants and herbs posses many beneficial properties for the health.
Essential oils have been used for health promoting purposes since ancient times. The true masters in applying these valuable oils were the ancient Egytians, who were followed closely by interested physicians from far and wide, which wanted to study the effects.
In a 12th century writing Arnaldus de Villa Nova describes the distillation of an extract from sage and rosemary. He named the oil this produced oleum mirabile (wonderful / miraculous oil). Furthermore 60 various essential oils were described in 1950 in the Nuremberg edition of the Dispensatorium by Valerius Cordus (Valerii Cordi Dispensatorium).
Some known beneficial effects of terpenes
Nowadays essential oils are still of major importance and are applied en masse in the food- and nutritional industries and are an important ingredient in cosmetic products, including perfumes and creams.
Additionally they are of great value in traditional medicine and alternative herbalism, like for example in aromatherapy and extensive research is being done into the characteristics of terpenes.
So for instance studies have determined that certain terpenes from plant extracts, which are added to skincare products, like ointment, skin oil, balms or massage oils, have the valuable property of making it easier for other active ingredients to permeate the skin. Owing to this deeply penetrating effect an effective absorption is possible, even when the skincare product is applied to callused skin.
Beneficial terpenes in both hemp and weed
Terpenes which are present in hemp and weed have various beneficial characteristics, just like the cannabinoids which are found in these plants of the cannabis genus. A major difference between both is that cannabinoids are almost exclusively present in cannabis plants (and only in a very few other plants) and terpenes can be found in thousands of different species of plants and herbs.
Some researchers suspect a significant interaction between terpenes and phytocannabinoids
A few established researchers suspect that the terpenes and cannabinoids which are present in cannabis work together and terpenes are even able to beneficially influence the effect of these cannabinoids of plant origin, also known as phytocannabinoids. This beneficial cooperation between the components is also known as the entourage effect. This effect has not yet been established in clinical trials, so for now, it cannot be claimed as a fact.
Well over 120 terpene types in cannabis
By now at least 120 different terpenes in cannabis have been identified. These terpenes are found in the sticky resin glands, also called trichomes, of the plant. Not every cannabisplant contains the same concentrations and relative proportions, this differs with every plant. The production of terpenes is influenced by all kinds of environmental factors, like for instance the climate, the soil condition or the age of the plant.
The time of day is also influential to the number of terpenes being present. Due to the volatile oils from the plant evaporating from heat, the plant will hold less terpenes at the end of the afternoon than early in the morning.
Terpene profile in cannabis plants
Cannabis plants often contain a large concentration of ß-caryophyllene, or BCP for short. This sesquiterpene plays a very big part in determining the scent and the taste of the plant. Other terpenes, terpineols ands terpenoids which can be found in hemp- and weed plants are myrcene, limonene, linalool, pinene, borneol, phytol, nerolidol, cineol (eucalyptol), carene, pulegon, sabinene, terpineol, humulene and caryophyllene oxide.
The most well-known terpenes, terpineols and terpenoids, which can be present in cannabis, are discussed at lenght in the clickable links below. Besides an extensive description of the terpene in question, the beneficial effects are listed as well.
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