All about terpenes: Cannabis-derived terpenes vs Botanical terpenes

Emerald Nwanne

Terpenes are naturally occurring scent molecules produced by all living plants. They serve real physical functionality in the life of plants like warding off potential predators, attracting pollinating insects, and are also useful in keeping the plants cool during hot weather. Terpenes are also responsible for the unique attributes of plants such as aroma, flavor, and color.  


While research on the benefits of terpenes is still in its early stages, these compounds are gaining attention from the wellness and cannabis consuming communities.


Cannabis lovers everywhere are becoming more interested in learning about terpenes. Are they cannabis-derived or botanically sourced? What type of terpene are they consuming and what are the emerging trends for these amazing molecules in the times ahead? Keep reading for a crash course in cannabis-derived terpenes and their botanical counterparts.


What are cannabis-derived terpenes?

As the name suggests, cannabis-derived terpenes are terpenes specifically sourced or extracted from cannabis plants. They are often referred to as the essential oils of cannabis as they give each strand of cannabis they are sourced from, its flavor, smell, and unique therapeutic quality.  


Cannabis-derived terpenes are scarcer, costlier to isolate, and more in demand than terpenes sourced from non-cannabis plants. They only make up 30% of the essential oil quantity produced by the cannabis plant and serve as the secret sauce that gives each cannabis strand/product its differentiating quality from others.  


Common cannabis-derived terpenes and their effects

There are over 150 unique cannabis-derived terpenes on the terpene chart. These terpenes are, however, divided into dominant categories known as primary terpenes, and the less dominant kinds known as secondary terpenes. Among the most important primary terpenes are:


Myrcene: This is the most popular, well-known, and abundant terpene type. It is known for its sweet clove-like aroma and relaxation properties that are well attested to. Myrcene is found in abundant quantities in OG Kush Grand and Daddy Purple and is commonly used in beer products.


Humulene: These are woody-scented terpenes that are known for their appetite suppression and anti-inflammatory qualities. They are mostly found in stands like Gelato, Sour Diesel, and Atlantis  


The demand for full cannabis-derived terpenes has grown over the past few years and is projected to continue growing. This might be partly explained by the legalization trend of cannabis all over the world, but it is also a reflection of the general need by consumers to know exactly what they are ingesting and what health and physical benefits they can expect from them.


What are botanical terpenes?

Botanical terpenes are the more readily available, less costly to produce counterparts of cannabis-derived terpenes. At a chemical level, both categories of terpenes appear the same and some botanical terpenes can even be synthesized to mimic cannabis-derived terpenes. Botanical terpenes are found in bulk quantities and are usually extracted and then used for their health benefits as well as in making soothing essential oils. Like cannabis-derived terpenes, they also have a distinct flavor and aroma attributes that make them popular for certain applications.


Common botanical terpenes and their effects

Dozens of botanically derived terpenes can be found on the terpene chart, some of the most prominent of which include:


Pinene: These are found in rosemary, basil, and, of course, pine needles. They come with a fresh woody smell and are credited to promote calmness, reduce stress, and relieve swelling in the body.


Limonene: This is the citrus family terpene found in lemon, oranges, lime, and in other plants like grapes. It possesses antioxidant properties that help the immune system, reduce inflammation, and boost energy.


Botanically derived terpenes are found in bulk quantities in most non-cannabis plants. They are cheaply extracted and have been in use for centuries. Although widely used (often unwittingly), people who actively pursue knowledge on terpenes tend to lean more towards cannabis-derived terpenes due to the perceived extra benefits that come with the cannabis plant.  


Terpene trends in 2022

Cannabis-derived terpenes are the future of the terpene consumer market. People are demanding more and more 100% cannabis products, and this crucially involves paying closer attention to terpenes. In many maturing markets such as Arizona, and Massachusetts companies are investing more in commercial production of real cannabis-derived terpenes to meet the ever-rising demand. Although challenges in cementing a steady supply chain at commercial quantities may persist for some time, more players coming into the field with more investment is expected to ease the emerging industry’s woes soon.  


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