What is the primary purpose of cannabis terpenes?

There are over 20,000 characterized terpenes in the plant kingdom, including monoterpenes, diterpenes, sesquiterpenes, tetraterpenes, and more, and their primary function is to protect plants. Every plant that we can smell is omitting aromatic active hydrocarbon chains, often referred to as essential oils or terpenes, and there have been hundreds of terpenes identified throughout the various cannabis subspecies.

Considering cannabis shares many dominant terpenes with other common plants, cannabis strain names often reference other plants or their fruits like lemons, tangerines, blueberries, strawberries, and many more. Grapefruit Haze, Tangerine Dream, and Lemon Skunk smell incredibly similar to the fruits they are named after, from the shared chemical compounds that make those aroma characteristics. The limonene, pinene, and other terpenes found in lemon, are also found in many narrow leaf marijuana types that have very citrusy aromatics.

Terpenes are not just plant protectors and sources for perfumes, they are also medicinally useful and have shown to provide the following benefits, in both animal and human studies: analgesic, antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, bronchodilator, anticonvulsant, anti-fungal, anti-anxiety, and many more. The following are the most dominant terpenes found in the plant kingdom and in cannabis:

 

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Do you have a favorite terpene for its effects or aroma characteristics?