This site started out as an exploration of terpenes in cannabis products and expanded to include terpenes in essential oils and other plant based medicines. Please use the pages as references for background information. So far four major targets have been found in the literature.

When γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) binds to the GABAA receptor, action potentials are inhibited. These terpenes are positive allosteric modulators of GABAA, meaning they make a little bit of the inhibitory neruotransmitter GABA go further. D-borneol, 3-carene, guaiol, caryophyllene oxide, humulene, alpha pinene, menthol/pulegol and curcumol, and the list is growing!

Many terpenese bind to one of the partner transcription factors peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) or retinoid X receptor (RXR). Terpenes binding to these factors may modulate transcripts for proteins that control fatty acid metabolism, insulin resistance, and so on. Terpenes that target PPAR family members include: linalool, citronellol and geraniol, camphene, and beta-caryophyllene.

See the GPCR page for a more in depth look. LImone binding the the adenosine A2A receptor is covered. Some key cannabis terpenes may interact directly with CB1 via membranes. CB1 cholesterol sites may be the target. Trans- vs cis-nerolidol is an interesting story. The phytol used in cannabis vaping cartridges follows the same theme.

top and side images of two transient receptor potential vanilloid channels with chemical structures of iconic ligands and iconic foods in which they are found. These images were created with software at rscb.org.

The ligand for TrpV1, capsaicin, has structural features in common with many terpenes even though this compound is considered a vanilloid. See the Trp page for more details on this family of Na+/Ca2+ ion channels and their cross talk with CB1. Myrcene is one of many terpene ligands of TrpV1. Camphor is a ligand of TrpA3.

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A look at peer reviewed plant based medicine publications

This site is slowly evolving as patterns of terpene targets emerge.


p-Cymene is anti-bacterial. Is it also inhibit mammalian mitochondria? Yes, it uncouples respiration of isolated micochondria.


The featured study came out of Brazil. Many of the plant species the authors cited as being good sources of (32%) as well as limonene (28%) and carvone (28%). [2] Hydro are natives of Brazil Dill is also a good source of α-phellandrene (32%) as well as limonene (28%) and carvone (28%). [2] Hydro distillationContinue reading “α-phellandrene”

Carvacrol and TRPM2

Introduction The TRPM2 structure comes from RCSB.org entry 6PUS. It features human TRPM2 bound to ADP-ribose, an NAD+ metabolite produced under oxidative stress and/or neuro degenerative conditions. The TRPV4 is from Xenopus. 6C8H The gadolinium inhibitor (arrow) is part of this structure. The TRPM2 mRNA and TRPV4 mRNA expression data are from Proteinatlas.org. The firstContinue reading “Carvacrol and TRPM2”

Which terpenes interest you?