What Are Terpenes In Cannabis: An Ecological Bouquet

CBD has shown great promise in aiding symptoms of migraines, as well as a great many other afflictions. CBD comes from the truly amazing miracle plant, cannabis.

Virtually every part of a plant is adapted to coexist with with the organisms in its immediate environment. And one of the amazing ways plants do this is by the production of phytochemicals (from Greek phyto, meaning “plant”), they are natural products and include phytochemicals known as terpenes. But what are terpenes?

Terpenes are flavorful and aromatic, they even mediate interactions between organisms. They might not be critical for a plant to grow and photosynthesize but they are indispensable for a plant to survive in its particular environment. Nowadays scientists are starting to learn that terpenes have a variety of functions on the brain and nervous systems of animals and insects, though few have been investigated with regards to their other ecological functions.

Based on fossil evidence the evolution of land plants and terpene production began ~388 MYA with ancient mosses and their relatives within intracellular oil bodies, surrounded by a single layer membrane. The oil bodies when damaged probably released terpenes that have been shown to have cytotoxic activity against the cells of fungi, insects, and invertebrate animals. Earliest fossils of such an occurrence are undigested plant tissue cells with a conspicuous disturbance, suggesting terpenes may have been acting as a deterrent to herbivores.

There are two major hypothesis as to why phytochemicals affect the human brain. It could be due to the cellular, biochemical, and molecular similarities between plants and humans, or do to the similarities of the human nervous system and that of insects, neither of these hypotheses are mutually exclusive and both could be accurate. (1)

Cannabis plants have a 4-8 month cycle in the wild, and exist as either females or males. Their growth patterns of flowering and senescence are dictated with the shortening and lengthening of the light and dark correlated with the season. The female plants produce clusters of flowers at the node of the leaf and stem, that produce up several pounds of seed per plant. Wild Cannabis is wind pollinated and the male plants die soon after shedding their pollen. However most modern cannabis is “sinsemilla”, meaning it is a female-only cultivation, the plants remain unfertilized and compensate the setting of seed by producing an excess of flowers.

Sinsemilla type Cannabis has increased trichome growth, and contains elevated levels of terpenes and cannabinoids. Terpenes and cannabinoids are present in all of the aerial parts of the Cannabis plant but are most concentrated in resinous trichomes. The terpene rich exudate is synthesized in capitate glandular trichomes and stored in spherical cells with a thin delicate membrane.

Terpenes have a variety of ecological roles. They may act as an attractant to certain insects, but only up to a certain point, for example if the membrane on the end of a trichome is sufficiently disturbed by an organism, the membrane could break and release the contents providing direct defenses to the plant. Terpenes also function as an intra- and inter- organismal signaling device and can be thought of as pheromones. Not only plants, but animals and insects use terpenes to signal each other. Scientists recently discovered that two different types of bacteria and fungi use terpenes to chemically signal each other as well.

The phytochemistry of Cannabis is intensely studied and terpenes could be one of the most important natural products from it medicinally. Terpenes are used in aromatherapy and perfume for their potent fragrances. Limonene a terpene, is what gives citrus its aromatic citrus flavor. Pinene the most common terpene has gives an essence of pine. Both of these terpenes and multiple others are common in Cannabis. By controlling the genetic drift Cannabis growers can grow strains for varying levels of terpenes and cannabinoids. The most commonly studied terpenes in Cannabis include, pinene, limonene, linalool, humulene, caryophyllene, and myrcene. Certain strains of Cannabis have distinctive flavors and aroma and this is due to terpene variation within each strain. Additionally each terpene has ecological functions that can be utilized medicinally.Fig. 1

Pinine is a colorless flammable liquid and is highly repellent to insects, it occurs in the tree sap of conifers. It is often modified and used in perfume (2).

Limonene gives a “citrus” aroma, it is a colorless liquid and is often used in cleaning products. There are variations of limonene isolated from the mint family that have a “piney” or “musky” aroma instead. Limonene can used as an insecticide on crops, and is used in flavoring for foods, and as an additive to cosmetics. (3)

Linalool has a “spicy floral” scent and is used in many commercial products. It is used in insecticidal sprays to keep mosquitos away, and is added to many soaps and shampoos. Certain types of linalool can smell “woody” or like lavender. (4)

Humulene is one of the principal essential oils from hops, and gives beer that “hoppy” flavor. Amazingly, it is emitted by plants can help influence the formation of organic aerosol formation in the atmosphere, a process that could be viewed as “cloud seeding” by the plants. (5)

Caryophyllene gives black pepper and clove their spicy flavor and aroma. It is present in Cannabis, hops, and rosemary as well. It is being studied for a variety of potential medicinal benefits including helping with inflammation. (6)

Myrcene is in spices like bay, parsley, Cannabis, and hops. It has a “peppery” and “herbal” flavor. (7)

These terpenes can be isolated from plants by different processes, including steam distillation. Many Cannabis products sold like vape pens are isolated cannabinoid oils. In processing the terpenes are removed from the oil. To give oils distinctive flavors, vendors actually add terpenes back into the oils to give them a particular flavor and aroma.

Terpenes are a plethora of volatile organic compounds, that stimulate olfactory sensations, the aroma of them is a veritable bouquet of sweet, spicy, and even earthy. Not only are they useful industrially but they provide plants with a variety of invaluable ecological roles. They are potently medicinal and so useful that we can’t overlook their importance to both the growing Cannabis industry as well as their ecological importance.



  1. Plants and the Human Brain, David Kennedy, Oxford Press, 2014. Print
  2. Pinene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinene
  3. Limonene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonene
  4. Linalool. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linalool
  5. Humulene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humulene
  6. Caryophyllene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caryophyllene
  7. Myrcene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrcene


Figure 1. Leafly Terpene Graphic. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/infographic-what-are-cannabis-terpenes-and-how-do-they-affect-you


Writer’s Bio:

Aaron Oman

I’m an undergraduate environmental ecology student at The Evergreen State College. I’m especially passionate about synergistic agriculture, botany, and phytochemistry. I believe that the natural world holds many undiscovered medicines yet to be revealed through science. I’ve been a Cannabis enthusiast for over 10 years and believe the medicinal potential that it holds is vastly underestimated. The content I write is an exploration of bioprospecting natural medicines and is dedicated to validating the natural world.

New Discoveries about the Cause and Treatment of Migraine Headaches

A recent article published in August 2017 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences reports new findings about how the kynurenine system and the endocannabinoid system interact. Future studies regarding these two systems might offer new insight into migraine headaches and possible new therapies used to treat them.

The dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system in the body has been proven through research to have a role in neurological disorders, inflammatory disorders and disorders that cause involuntary movement such as Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and multiple sclerosis. Migraine headaches are the most common type of neurological disorder.

Studies have shown that these disorders can be treated with cannabinoids such as CBD which may decrease pain, nausea and tremors. CBD is one of nearly 100 cannabinoids or compounds from the cannabis plant which has multiple medical uses as documented by clinical studies. It can be beneficial in relieving pain, nausea and inflammation that occur with migraines. Cannabinoids bind with the receptors in the brain CB1 and CB2 which is thought to regulate the endocannabinoid system, resulting in a lessening of symptoms. Cannabis has been used as a pain reliever, particularly for migraine headaches, for years. This has been documented with both clinical and anecdotal evidence.

The kynurenine system (or pathway) is also thought to be involved in neurological symptoms, including migraines. Dysfunctional or blocked parts of the kynurenine pathway in the body are associated with genetic diseases like those listed above such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, multiple sclerosis, and possibly migraines as well. The endocannabinoid system and the kynurenine pathway may be linked in the way they work with certain receptors in the body, and with enzymes produced in both systems.

Currently, there are no studies that explain exactly how the kynurenine system and the endocannabinoid system work or communicate with each other in the body. But evidence shows that the two systems do overlap on several levels, and that is the area of interest for future studies aimed at treating migraine headaches. Studies targeting these systems and how they interact with regard to neurological symptoms may shed light on both the cause and treatment of migraines.


Can CBD Oil Cure a Migraine? What You Need to Know

CBD has recently been in the news with people reporting it cures everything from acne to cancer. What are the facts? And can CBD oil really help patients suffering with migraine pain? Here are a few things that you need to know.

What exactly is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an oil extracted from a marijuana plant or a hemp plant.  CBD is one of nearly 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil that is extracted from a hemp plant is legal for medical use, but oil that is extracted from the marijuana plant is not legal in all states. The compound in the cannabis plant that causes an altered mental state is THC. CBD does not cause the user to get “high” and in fact, the hemp plant from which the CBD is extracted is usually very low in THC. Users of CBD oil have found the compound to improve symptoms of many medical conditions, which has made CBD a popular topic of discussion and interest with pharmacological researchers as well as with the general public.

How are migraines different from regular headaches?

Migraine headaches are different from other headaches in several ways. Migraines can last several days and unlike regular headaches, are usually not cured with over-the-counter medication. Additionally, migraines come with other symptoms that make it difficult to carry out activities of daily living. Some of the symptoms of migraine headaches are nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and to sound, dizziness, seeing spots or an “aura,” or temporary loss of sight.  Some people can tell days in advance when a migraine is coming on with symptoms such as neck stiffness, yawning, and depression. Because migraines can be so severe and debilitating, it can be difficult for someone suffering from migraines to work, resulting in a lot of lost work days. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 29.5 million Americans experience migraine headaches. Patients suffering from migraines take prescription medications for inflammation, nausea and pain. Unfortunately, if these medications are used for more than 10 days a month they can have a rebound effect and cause additional headaches.

What is the benefit of using CBD oil for migraines?

Most information we have about how CBD oil works for migraine sufferers is anecdotal, meaning it is based on personal, first-person accounts. However, there is some research showing that cannabinoids actually block the receptors in the brain which cause nausea and pain. Researchers also believe that migraine sufferers are deficient in endocannabinoids which normally calm parts of the brain that could trigger a migraine. If there are not enough endocannabinoids to level out the symptoms caused by triggers such as bright light, sound, hormones, or a certain smell, then the result is a migraine. If migraines do in fact result from a deficiency of endocannabinoids in the brain, that could explain why using CBD would fill that gap, provide the cannabinoids, and result in fewer symptoms and potentially fewer migraines. CBD has also shown to be linked to better sleep patterns which would be beneficial to migraine sufferers who have migraines triggered by lack of sleep.

Is there anything I need to know before I try it?

As with any kind of alternative medicine, having your doctor on board is important. Very early studies show that there may be some drug interactions that need to be monitored when using CBD oil for migraines, especially if you are using prescription drugs. If you use CBD oil made from hemp, it is unlikely that it would be found on a drug test as hemp has very little or no THC, but it is possible. It is a good idea to be aware if your employer has a drug testing policy. Also, be sure that your source of CBD oil is reputable. The actual amount of CBD in the oil varies widely between companies that produce the product, and you may not get a good result if the oil you use does not contain the stated amount of CBD.

The reality is, we don’t know for sure how CBD oil works in the brain to ease migraines, but other than potential drug interactions patients report few negative side effects from using CBD oil to treat migraines. According to Bonni Goldstein, MD, in her book Cannabis Revealed, “Unfortunately, little research exists that proves the mechanism by which cannabinoids alleviate migraines, despite the overwhelming anecdotal reports from patients suffering with them.” But because of the overwhelming anecdotal reports, more and more clinical research will be done to confirm the results migraine patients are already experiencing.


Writer’s Bio:

Darrik Cheney

Darrik Cheney is a content crafter, marketer, and anthropologist who grew up in D.C. and  Minnesota. He studied Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Brigham Young University, and seeks to continually apply the study of culture in presenting relatable and relevant content. Follow him on Twitter @darriklc.

CBD oil for Migraines

According to the Migraine Research Foundation and Migraine.com, not only do 37 million Americans suffer from migraines but it’s the 6th most disabling illness in the world. With symptoms known to cause depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and many others. Can CBD oil for migraines become the new “natural” alternative for our current prescriptions we currently have available?


It was a Friday night. Like every other college student, I was getting ready for a night on the town with the friends. As I waited for my pants to finish drying I noticed a blind spot develop in my peripheral vision. Immediately I assumed the worst. Was it a brain tumor? Cancer? A blood clot? I laid on my bed pondering my next move on the brinks of my first panic attack. With sweaty hands and a tight chest, I decided to call a doctor but could no longer see my screen. After what seemed an eternity my vision returned but what came next was something I had once suffered with on a weekly basis. Vomiting and excruciating pain behind my eyes which would last for well over a few hours. Growing up I’ve witnessed far too many friends fall victim in becoming dependent on prescription pills so that was never going to be an option for me. After nearly a decade of suffering, I was finally introduced to CBD oil for migraines. The effectiveness of the product has reduced the severity and frequency of the migraines drastically. What was once a weekly debilitating trial has now dropped to roughly a once a month episode if not less and not to mention, the pain and nausea have dropped dramatically.


What is a migraine?

According to medlineplus.gov

“A migraine headache is caused by abnormal brain activity. This activity can be triggered by many things. But the exact chain of events remains unclear. Most medical experts believe the attack begins in the brain and involves nerve pathways and chemicals. The changes affect blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues”.


According to a recent study presented on forbes.com, Over 127 participants who suffered from chronic migraines were given a mix of both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). There were two phases to the study. In the first, they were given 200mg of a various dose of both CBD and THC. After just 3 months the majority of participants noticed a 55% decrease in pain. Migraine sufferers were given either the THC-CBD drug or 25 milligrams of amitriptyline, an antidepressant medication often used to treat migraines. The cluster headache sufferers were given either the THC-CBD drug or 80 milligrams of verapamil, a calcium channel blocker med often prescribed for cluster headaches.

The results showed that THC-CBD was slightly better at reducing the frequency of migraine attacks than the commonly prescribed med (40.4 % versus 40.1%, respectively). And the THC-CBD drug was very effective at reducing migraine pain, cutting it by 43.5%.


What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of at least 113 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis. It is a major phytocannabinoid, accounting for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. When people hear the word “marijuana” they generally think of a plant that gets you high. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces effects such as feeling “high” or feeling anxious or paranoid. CBD is non-psychoactive so won’t get you high and studies have suggested that CBD actually counteracts the anxiety or paranoia that can be caused by THC. Since CBD hemp oil products have no or only a trace amount of THC, a person using them is highly unlikely to test positive for THC in a standard drug test. www.endoca.com  www.wikipedia.com


How does CBD prevent pain?

In our brain and in other parts of our bodies we have cannabinoid receptors which are tiny loops of protein that affect how we feel pain. Marijuana contains natural compounds called cannabinoids. When ingested these cannabinoids search out the receptors in our bodies changing how they work as well reducing the pain signals.


Due to political and legal reasons, there hasn’t been as many tests ran as we’d like to see but there have been quite a few surveys done all telling us that CBD has a greater effect on reducing pain and preventing migraines than your standard prescription given to you by your local doctor.


According to http://www.fibrotoday.com, Here are a few basic facts we know about CBD


Fact #1: CBD is one of 113 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids that are all found in the cannabis plant.

Fact #2: CBD products will not get you high. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces effects such as feeling “high” or feeling anxious or paranoid.

Fact #3: CBD products come in several different forms, including drops (tinctures), capsules, vape oils and dabs.

Fact #4: The effectiveness of CBD as a treatment option for diseases and medical conditions has not been scientifically proven by U.S. FDA standards. CBD products are also not currently regulated by the FDA.

If you’re familiar with migraines than you know the pain can be utterly excruciating. It can leave you bedridden for days. To some, the pain is unbearable. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for some people to become dependent on their prescription pills. The downside to this is not only the addiction factor it creates but it’s short term and long term side effects. Fortunately, we are moving into a new direction. Finding healthier options dealing with life’s painful medical issues we all face as human beings.


Fibrotoday.com, Migraine Research Foundation, Migraine.com



Writer’s Bio:

Aaron Murphy

Aaron Murphy is not only a well known writer in the community of his parents house, but an avid Cannabis user in the basement.