When you crush a leaf between your fingers – eucalyptus, basil or mint – lift it to your nose and smell. There’s a strong, distinctive aroma: what you’re smelling are terpenes. Australian hemp or cannabis is the same. When you crush the leaf, an oil residue is left on your fingers.
In hemp, cannabis and marijuana (e.g. the hemp leaf or within hemp products), that aroma laden oil is called a cannabis terpene. Terpenes are the organic compounds in the plant that gives the plant oil its scent. As the hemp plant starts to be used for more and more things, cannabis terpenes are quickly being recognised as a premium extract of the hemp or cannabis sativa plant.
A hemp plant has more than one hundred different terpenes. Some have the aromas of pine, of berries, or of citrus. Terpenes in the hemp plant can be broadly classified as sweet, sour, spicy or bitter. From these starting points, classifications become more specific.
Health Benefits of Cannabis Terpenes
The health benefits of terpenes are becoming more broadly understood. Terpenes like limonene and myrcene, work with other cannabinoid molecules like CBD or THC, creating a synergistic union of compounds that achieve better results and greater efficacy as a group than they would in isolation. This positive intermingling of cannabinoids and terpenes is known as the “Entourage Effect”, it is fascinating doctors, scientists and consumers of natural products.
As more becomes known about terpenes in the hemp plant, more uses are emerging, including to flavour drinks such as cannabis alcohol.
Myrcene is the most common terpene in the hemp plant, it has an earthy, citrusy, fruity smell with some woody overtones. Myrcene is also found in citrus, thyme, basil, mango, lemongrass - plants with big and bold aromas. It is the perfect addition to our craft vodka, giving it a unique botanical flavour. Some researchers recommend myrcene for patients who suffer insomnia, restlessness, and a multitude of forms of anxiety. It can also facilitate antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antiseptic benefits.
Limonene provides an interesting flavonoid and precursor to our craft gin. It may sound like an Italian drink for a warm summer’s afternoon, but limonene is often used as a natural treatment for a variety of health issues and is a popular ingredient in household items. It has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and possibly disease-preventing properties. Not so surprising when you realise limonene is found in many citrus fruits and gives citrus its distinctive aroma, it is especially concentrated in orange peels. You guessed it, Limonene is also found in hemp products. The strong citrus flavours act as a powerful natural flavouring in food and drinks, giving what you are eating or drinking familiar, yet subtly distinctive and complex flavours.
Our use of myrcene and limonene is what makes Natural Distilling Co’s Australian craft gin and vodka unique. Adding both a depth and a complex flavour profile that is both pure and a totally natural hemp product. Check out our Myrcene Hemp Vodka and Limonene Hemp Gin today.