Welcome to Talking Terpenes: Behind the Blends, the research-based educational series that explores the detailed biochemistry of the fragrant wellness molecules produced by cannabis and 20,000 other plant species in nature called terpenes.
Talking Terpenes teaches readers about the wide range of benefits offered by these special compounds. Followers learn how terpene blends deliver both enhanced medicinal efficacy and exquisitely layered fragrances. In fact, humans have been adding terpenes and terpene blends to their food, beverages, and topical lotions for millennia.
This installment of Talking Terpenes explores the popular Extract Consultants solvent-free Sour Kush Blend. This mix’s formulation involved consideration of the nuanced biomechanical properties offered by each terpene, as well as their combined effects.
Examining Sour Kush Terpenes
The balanced terpenes featured in the Sour Kush Blend offer an enticing aroma profile that delivers notes of citrus and spice with strong undertones of classic diesel. This sativa-dom hybrid emerged from the cross breeding of two standout cannabis cultivars: Sour Diesel and OG Kush.
The Extract Consultants Sour Kush solvent-free terpene blend is comprised of the terpenes alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, d-limonene, linalool, myrcene, and several others. The Sour Kush blend is popular due to its impressive lifestyle benefits and robust aroma profile.
Alpha-pinene, also denoted as α-pinene and sometimes simply pinene, is a major terpene and the most common in the world. As its name suggests, pinene is produced by pine trees and more than 400 other species of plants. Beyond hemp and pine trees, it is also found in basil, eucalyptus, frankincense, oranges, parsley, rosemary, and sage.
The aroma of pinene—earthy, fresh, and musky, with a strong layer of pine—is popular with consumers and patients. The fact that the scent of alpha-pinene is exceptionally attractive to humans has motivated the food and beverage industries to employ it as a flavor ingredient for decades. Cosmetics manufacturers commonly use pinene as a fragrance agent.
A 2015 study entitled “Gastroprotective Effect of Alpha-pinene and its Correlation with Antiulcerogenic Activity” that was published in the journal Pharmacognosy Magazine explored the ability of α-pinene to effectively treat gastrointestinal conditions, including ulcers, in rodent subjects.
The researchers reported that α-pinene treatment “inhibited ethanol-induced gastric lesions, reduced volume and acidity of gastric juice, and increased gastric wall mucus [a protective barrier].” In addition, the study observed “an interesting correlation between [the] concentration of α-pinene and [the resulting] gastroprotective effect.”
The study concluded that α-pinene exhibited “significant antiulcerogenic activity” and that “a great correlation between concentration of α-pinene and gastroprotective effect...was observed.”
Like its isomer sibling alpha-pinene, beta-pinene (commonly denoted as β-pinene) is a monoterpene that delivers a variety of benefits while simultaneously emitting an attractive aroma characterized by wood and earth. The aroma of beta-pinene is sometimes described as green and is often accompanied by undertones of fresh spice. While alpha-pinene’s core aroma is pine, the beta isomer angles more toward elements of wood and spice.
Because it is an isomer of α-pinene, the two frequently appear together in samples of the plant, with beta-pinene produced in relatively low volumes compared to the alpha variant.
Like α-pinene, β-pinene has demonstrated anti-cancer and antibiotic efficacy (it has been found to cause the death of lung cancer cells via apoptosis). Other benefits revealed by research include analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory powers. A quality that this terpene shares with alpha-pinene is bronchodilation. This makes beta-pinene a potential therapeutic agent for disorders such as allergies, asthma, and bronchitis. Like other terpenes and cannabinoids, beta-pinene has shown neurogenerative qualities, meaning it may be effective in the fight against common diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
A 2011 study entitled “Comparative Anti-infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) Activity of Pinene” that was published in the journal Molecules explored the antiviral powers of beta-pinene and its isomer alpha-pinene, specifically in the treatment of bronchitis, a virus-based lung condition.
The study reported that both terpenes “were found to inhibit bronchitis.” The researchers concluded that their study data “suggest that α-pinene and β-pinene possess anti-IBV properties” and that they may act as “anti-IBV ingredients for the pharmaceutical industry.”
Beta-caryophyllene, also commonly called BCP or merely caryophyllene, is a common terpene that conveys a sometimes pungent aroma of spiciness. BCP is a major element in the aroma of black pepper. This terpene is produced by cannabis and several other plant species, including basil, black caraway, cannabis, cinnamon, clove, copaiba, hops, lavender, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and ylang-ylang.
Two of the primary benefits conveyed by this terpene include anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, although it has also demonstrated anticancer and wound healing benefits. It is hypothesized that BCP’s role in managing pain may be the result of its unusual behavior of binding with the CB2 receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system, a behavior that no other terpene exhibits.
A 2014 study entitled “The Cannabinoid CB2 Receptor-selective Phytocannabinoid Beta-caryophyllene Exerts Analgesic Effects in Mouse Models of Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain” that was published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology investigated the role of BCP in managing neuropathic pain via the mechanism of decreased inflammation.
The study found that BCP—which it interestingly categorized as a cannabinoid, not a terpene—“reduced inflammatory pain responses” and revealed that these benefits were not experienced in test subjects lacking CB2 receptors. The scientists reported that “neuropathic pain symptoms are diminished in BCP-treated mice.” The study concluded that BCP is “the first natural CB2 receptor agonist, which could orally reduce inflammatory responses in different...models of pain” and that the terpene “belongs to a group of common plant natural products with major potential impact on human health.”
Limonene manifests as the isomer twins D-limonene and L-limonene. D-limonene is a major and common terpene that produces a fresh and fruity aroma that is characterized by tones of citrus, predominantly lemon and lime. This molecule is abundant in some chemotypes of cannabis, but is also produced by a range of other plant species that includes grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, and orange. D-limonene is the second most common terpene in nature, behind pinene.
The major medicinal efficacy of d-limonene is reduced anxiety. For those who suffer depression rooted in anxiety and for whom conventional pharmaceutical treatments have failed, this terpene may offer promise. In addition, this phytomolecule has been shown to exhibit antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research reveals that d-limonene may also be effective in treating gastric reflux and heartburn.
This limonene isomer is exceptionally good at working with other terpenes. When incorporated into topical products, it has been shown to improve the absorption of other terpenes and phytomolecules via the digestive tract, mucous membranes, and epidermis (skin). D-limonene is commonly employed by the food and beverage industries as a flavoring agent and in cosmetics for its attractive citrus-like aroma.
A 2007 study entitled “D-Limonene: Safety and Clinical Applications” that was published in the journal Alternative Medicine Review explored the medicinal benefits of d-limonene. The study found the safety profile of the terpene to be acceptable, reporting that “in humans, d-limonene has demonstrated low toxicity after single and repeated dosing for up to one year.”
The research reported that d-limonene “has been used clinically to dissolve cholesterol-containing gallstones” and that it provides “gastric acid neutralizing effect and support of normal peristalsis.” Thus, the scientists found d-limonene to provide value for “relief of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux.”
The literature review study also found that d-limonene delivers anticancer benefits, reporting that it features “well-established chemopreventive activity against many types of cancer” and citing specific benefits for breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
Linalool is a relatively common terpene in nature, although it is officially categorized as a minor terpene within cannabis, meaning that it is produced by the plant in considerably lower quantities relative to major terpenes such as alpha-pinene or myrcene.
This terpene produces an aroma dominated by floral tones that feature heavy hints of wood and spice. Beyond cannabis, linalool is produced by basil, bay leaf, birch bark, a range of fungi, ho leaf (Chinese rosewood), lavender (the most commonly cited source), and more than 200 additional plant species.
A variety of research studies have shown linalool to possess anxiety lowering and antimicrobial properties. It may also reduce convulsions and seizure activity in patients with epilepsy. Similar to other phytomolecules produced by cannabis, including many terpenes and cannabinoids, linalool offers analgesic benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, linalool has been shown to possess anticancer efficacy.
A 2016 study entitled “Linalool Reverses Neuropathological and Behavioral Impairments in Old Triple Transgenic Alzheimer’s Mice” that was published in the journal Neuropharmacology investigated “the effects of oral administration of the monoterpene linalool on mice...with a triple transgenic model of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
The study revealed that “linalool-treated Alzheimer’s mice showed improved learning and spatial memory.” It reported that this floral terpene also had a positive effect on inflammation, noting a “significant reduction in the levels of the pro-inflammatory markers.”
The study’s authors concluded that linalool “reverses the histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and restores cognitive and emotional functions via an anti-inflammatory effect” and that the terpene “may be an Alzheimer’s prevention candidate for preclinical studies.”
Myrcene, the most common terpene in cannabis, is known for its musky aroma and sedative effects. It produces a fragrant bouquet that is raw and earthy and sometimes accompanied by fruity or clove-like undertones. Myrcene’s aroma is similar to that of camphene, resulting in the two commonly being confused with one another.
This terpene is associated with indica-type cultivars and is recommended by many wellness professionals and caregivers to reduce anxiety. It is produced by cannabis, chamomile, hops, lemongrass, parsley, and wild thyme, among other plant species. Like many terpenes, myrcene is employed as a food flavor agent and in cosmetics for aroma.
A 2011 study entitled “Antioxidative Effects of Curcumin, β-myrcene, and Cineole Against Dioxin-induced Oxidative Stress in Rats Liver” that was published in the journal Toxicology and Industrial Health explored “the effectiveness of curcumin, β-myrcene (myrcene), and cineole on antioxidant defense system in rats given a persistent environmental pollutant.”
The study reported that curcumin, myrcene, and cineole reduced the volumes of several chemicals that produced negative results. The scientists concluded that myrcene exhibited strong “antioxidant activity and eliminated TCDD-induced oxidative stress in rats in a time-dependent manner.”
The terpenes that compose the exclusive solvent-free Sour Kush Blend from Extract Consultants—including alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, d-limonene, linalool, and myrcene—offer a deliciously sweet and enticing aroma profile dominated by floral tones of earth and musk.
More important, this unique mix of molecules offers significant wellness benefits, as revealed by decades of peer-reviewed research studies. These qualities include anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties.
Collectively, these terpenes exhibit marked benefits for many disease states and negative health conditions, including Alzheimer’s, bronchitis, breast cancer, liver disease, epilepsy, gallstones, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, social anxiety, insomnia, and gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s—among many others.
About the Author
Curt Robbins is a technical writer, instructional designer, and lecturer who has been developing science-based educational and training content for Fortune 200 enterprise companies for more than 30 years. He is Director of Course Development at Higher Learning LV™ in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Robbins began writing about the biochemistry and science of the various wellness molecules produced by plants such as hemp in 2003. He has since developed more than 600 educational articles about hemp and its health components—including terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and the human endocannabinoid system.