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Terpenes: Taste, Medicine, and Plant Protection

January 9, 2019
Terpenes: Taste, Medicine, and Plant Protection

-        The many uses of a large family of exciting plant compounds.

Plants in the genus, Cannabis, have so much to offer us. From industrial uses like manufacturing rope, clothing, paper, and buildings, to providing delicious and healthy snacks like hemp seeds, there’s no almost no limit to the number of ways that humans benefit from Cannabis plants.

In fact, the United States of America might not exist if it weren’t for hemp growers during its foundational years. The Founding Fathers possessed well-documented support for growing hemp, including owning their own hemp farms.

That being said, there is more to Cannabis than meets the eye. Sure, the industrial uses of hemp are well-documented, but it’s closely related cousins–the cultivars with loads of THC–have long been demonized for their psychoactive properties. Those properties have unfortunately overshadowed the many medicinal aspects of this beautiful plant.

Thankfully, research continues to open up and Cannabis’ full potential is finally being looked at more closely. While most people are familiar with the two major cannabinoids found in this plant–THC and CBD–there is a complex profile of many other compounds present, as well. Most markedly: the terpenes.

Why do plants have terpenes?

To be clear, terpenes aren’t only found in Cannabis. They’re found in many different plant species throughout the world. While they may possess valuable medicinal benefits for humans, that isn’t why they evolved in plants.

The life of a plant is difficult. They face the prospects of being stomped on by ungulates, devoured by insects, infected by fungi, being poisoned by neighboring plants competing for their space, or even being frozen or burnt to death by the elements.

Plants may seem docile, but they’re in a constant struggle to survive. One of their most important defense mechanisms is their terpenes.

- read the rest of the article here

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