Sunday 9 January 2022

What's the Difference: Cannabis Derived Terpenes vs Botanically-Derived Terpenes


Terpenes are hydrocarbon-based compounds that assist and protect plants from harm from threats like animal grazing and pests. They exhibit strong and sometimes pleasant odors. They also aid in a range of ecological functions for plants. They can work to protect plants from diseases, help in plant-to-plant communication, and work to provide a range of other functions. 


By Tess DeNapoli


There are a number of differences between cannabis-derived and botanically-derived terpene solutions, with strengths and weaknesses to both.


Cannabis-Derived Terpenes


The cannabis plant, also known as Cannabis Sativa L., is rich in both terpenes and terpenoids. It has been used around the world as fiber, food, oil, and even as medicine. Hemp has been used as a textile crop for centuries. Recent advances in cannabis legalization have made growing and acquiring cannabis common.


Before we continue, it’s important to note the distinction between terpenes and terpenoids. Terpenoids are related to terpenes, but have a few key differences. Terpenes are hydrocarbon-based substances, while terpenoids are oxygen-rich terpenes. Terpenes are present in the plant’s natural form and terpenoids are created when the plant is dried and oxidized.


Cannabis is an incredible plant that has an estimated 110 terpenes and 120 terpenoids! They are the main factors in the remarkable fragrance of cannabis, and the differences in aroma and flavor between strains is which terpenes are dominant. Some of the most common terpenes that determine these flavors are 𝛂-myrcene, 𝛃-myrcene, 𝛃-pinene, 𝛃-caryophyllene, limonene, and terpinolene.


Due to the sheer amount of terpenes in it, cannabis has been the most important plant in terpene research. However, extraction of terpenes from cannabis tends to be inefficient, which can result in a subpar product compared to other methods.



When bringing up cannabis-derived terpenes, it’s important to acknowledge cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the common name for cannabis-derived terpenoids that originate from diterpenes. They emerge from the naturally forming terpenes when the cannabis plant is oxidized (dried and cured). There are hundreds of cannabinoids in each strain of cannabis, but the most well known are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).


However, while cannabinoids are a type of terpenoid, they are not terpenes. Terpenes do not have the intoxicating effect that CBD and THC do. However, the cannabis health benefits of both are currently being explored.


Botanically-Derived Terpenes


Botanically-derived terpenes are exactly what their name implies: terpenes extracted from botanical sources. This is an alternative to cannabis-derived terpenes. Unlike cannabis, which has over a hundred terpenes, botanical sources usually only have a handful. The aromas and flavors of fruits, vegetables, spices, flowers, and any other herbs and plants are produced by these terpenes.


Extraction from these sources is cleaner, easier, and more efficient than from cannabis. This leads to purer products with higher yields.


Uses of Terpenes

Terpenes and terpenoids are widely used in pharmaceuticals, food, and cosmetics. Some of the potential health-related benefits of terpenoids include antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antimalarial properties — though how effective these are requires a bit more research.


Aromatherapy through all-natural essential oils exemplifies the benefits of terpenes as well. Eucalyptus, citrus, lavender, and peppermint all contain terpenes that contribute to their fragrant and lasting scents.


Tea tree oil is a well-known essential oil that has the pharmacological benefits of a natural antiseptic. Its active ingredient is terpinen-4-ol. Terpinen-4-ol comes from the leaves of the medicinal tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia.


Scientific research has led to the creation of synthetic terpenes as well. They are designed as flavor additives and are created in labs by chemists. Methods of terpene extraction in the formation of synthetic terpenes include dilution, redistilling, and reconstruction. This way, chemists can extract the purest terpenes possible.


The Future of Terpenes

Our understanding of the terpenes in both cannabis strains and everyday plants is ever-evolving. While terpene usage has already become common in flavoring and aromatherapy products, we’ve only just begun looking into the natural healing properties terpenes may have. The processes of extracting natural terpenes and manufacturing synthetic terpenes will undoubtedly continue to evolve in the years to come.

Author Bio

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.


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