Terpenes, monoterpenes, and terpenoidsare terms sometimes used interchangeably, but there are differences between them. The primary difference is that terpenes are hydrocarbons, while terpenoids haveoxygen-containing functional groups like alcohols or ketones.The enzymes that catalyze the initial step in the conversion of terpenes into terpenoids are called monoterpene synthases, and there is a different enzyme for the catalysis of individual terpenes.
Synergy Between Cannabinoids and Terpenes
Since Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam discovered the entourage effect in 1998, scientists have studied how cannabinoids and terpenes interact with each other to enhance their therapeutic benefits. Dr. Ethan Russo discussed how interactions between non-cannabinoid plant components and THC can increase its therapeutic index.1
Terpenes and terpenoids such as linalool, myrcene, orterpinene are more commonly referenced when discussing dominant cannabis bouquets. Fenchol (also known as fenchyl alcohol) is a lesser known monoterpenoid that has fragrances of lemon, pine, and camphor. Fenchol is one terpene responsible for the characteristic scent of basil.
Fenchol is commonly used in perfumery. Research has shown that fenchol has antibacterial properties2as well as antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics.3
The medical industry continually searches for new antimicrobials because of the resistance to treatment that fungi, parasites, bacteria, and viruses develop over time. Using the synergies between essential oils and antibiotics may provide a viable solution to this problem.
Studies on cannabis continue to increase as more states (and countries) continue to pass legalizing legislation. It’s likely that fenchol, as well as other terpenes, hide more therapeutic benefits waiting to be uncovered.
- Russo, E., “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects,”Br J Pharmacol, 2011, (163)7: 1344-1364
- Kotan, R., et al., “Screening of antibacterial activities of twenty-one oxygenated monoterpenes,”Z Naturforsch C, 2007, (62)7-8
- Chouhan, S., “Antimicrobial Activity of Some Essential Oils-Present Status and Future Perspectives,”Medicines (Basel), 2017, 4(3): 58. DOI: 10.3390/medicines4030058.