Lemon, and Pepper, and Hops? Oh My!
If you’re not too careful, the pungent smell of hemp can sometimes smack you in the face, it's so strong.
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in hemp – what gives the plant its distinct smell. While scientists have discovered “more than 150 different terpenes" in the magical plant, there are some terpenes that are more common than others.
Terpene science is a relatively new topic in hemp research. Historically, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabinol) have dominated hemp research, but scientists are beginning to focus on how terpenes interact with THC, CBD, other cannabinoids, and the body.
Myrcene, Limonene, and Caryophyllene are the most common terpenes found in hemp.
Have you ever noticed that some hemp bud smells spicier than others? You can thank Myrcene for that earthy, peppery, and clove-like smell. Myrcene is found in bay leaves, mangos, basil, and lemongrass. Speaking of mangos, have you ever tried eating a mango before lighting up? The high levels of myrcene found in mangos can sometimes and depending on the consumer, *enhance* your hemp experience.
“Myrcene is a recognized sedative as part of hops preparations” and “possesses anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.” Due to myrcene's sedative-like effects, it might be the reason some people feel sleepy after consuming the magical plant. Myrcene is also one of the most dominant monoterpenes found in hemp. But wait? What’s a monoterpene?
A monoterpene is the simplest form of terpene. In other words, the chemical structure of a monoterpene is basic compared to sesquiterpene (another type of terpene).
Another very popular monoterpene is Limonene.
Limonene is “the second most widely distributed terpenoid in nature.” Terpenoids are oxygenated forms of terpenes. Terpenes transform into terpenoids during the drying and curing process of hemp. (The science can be dizzying.)
Limonene, much like myrcene, has a very distinct smell. Just by the name alone, you can probably guess what that smell is… That’s right, it’s citrus! Limonene is found in citrus rinds, and ginger. It’s very bright smelling and hard to miss. Synthetic limonene is often used in cleaning products to give it that lemony freshness.
The limonene terpene has a plethora of therapeutic benefits. Researchers have “extensively studied” limonene, discovering it has “anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antinociceptive, anticancer, antidiabetic, antihyperalgesic, antiviral, and gastroprotective effects, among other beneficial effects in health.”
Researchers agree that terpenes give hemp its distinct smell, but monoterpenes, like myrcene and limonene, are slightly diminished during the drying and storage of hemp, which results in a “higher relative proportion of sesquiterpenoids (especially caryophyllene).”
Our first non-monoterpene, or as science calls it, a sesquiterpene (or sesquiterpenoid). Caryophyllene is more chemically complex than myrcene and limonene. Caryophyllene “is generally the most common sesquiterpenoid encountered in cannabis.”
Caryophyllene is found in black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and rosemary. Similar to myrcene, caryophyllene gives hemp that peppery smell. Caryophyllene “has been reported to exert therapeutic effects as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer… [and] has been identified as a fully selective agonist of CB2 cannabinoid receptors [meaning it can bind to and activate a receptor], one of the key members of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).”
That last bit is important to hemp and terpene research as the ECS (Endocannabinoid system) is a vital part of why hemp affects humans. The ECS deserves its own post, but in layman’s terms, the ECS controls food intake, metabolism, and calorie storage as well as the “regulation of inflammation and the modulation of depression, schizophrenia, and chronic pain” among other things.
Myrcene, Limonene, and Caryophyllene are just a few of the 150+ terpenes in hemp. You’ve likely encountered each of these terpenes without realizing it! Each with its own scent and benefits, these terpenes are sure to knock you on your feet once you get a whiff.
Stayed tuned for more information about cannabinoids, Delta-8 THC, the endocannabinoid system, federally compliant hemp flower, and more!
Want to experience the bliss of terpenes for yourself? Head over to the Lewis Lemon Hemp shop to explore our selection of organically grown Delta-8 and CBD products. Check here for your state’s laws about Delta-8 products before purchasing.