Terpene Tuesdays: Everything You Need to Know About Valencene Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits
Terpenes exist in nearly all plants on earth. If you've ever visited a citrus grove or enjoyed a glass of orange juice, you've encountered valencene.
Valencene is a rare terpene found in cannabis and other plants. It exudes an herbaceous, sweet citrus aroma with notes of freshly cut wood and is abundant in Valencia oranges and citrus fruits like grapefruit, tangerines, and clementines. Recent preliminary studies suggest valencene may combat inflammation and allergies and protect the skin against UV rays.
Citrus essential oils derived from valencene are considered powerful insecticides, making them a common addition to tick and mosquito repellants. Valencene can be uplifting in high concentrations, and its pleasant aroma is added to many personal care products and cosmetics.
What Do Terpenes like Valencene Do?
Terpenes are chemical compounds or aromatic essential oils that give plants their unique scents, from the sour smell of a lemon to the fragrance of a pine tree. Aside from aroma, they help plants attract pollinators like bees while simultaneously staving away predators.
You've already seen terpenes if you use essential oil products or notice naturally-derived aromas in personal care products, soaps, and other household items like cleansers. These compounds pack a punch far exceeding their unique scents; they possess human and animal applications that we are just beginning to understand.
Valencene in Cannabis
There are thousands of terpenes in nature, and over 200 occur in the cannabis plant. Cannabis strains each have a unique terpene profile contributing to their flavor, fragrance, and therapeutic and sensory properties.
When we consume full-spectrum cannabis products, terpenes work alongside cannabinoids like CBD and THC in the "entourage effect" to produce unique physiological and psychoactive effects. This nuanced process explains why some strains are more energizing, calming, pain-relieving, or appetite-enhancing than others.
Valencene Research & Benefits
Studies indicate valencene can be an anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and skin protectant. Additionally, some evidence points to its ability to boost the efficacy of cancer-fighting chemotherapies. More research is needed to fully understand the breadth of valencene’s clinical uses.
- A 2018 overview of research on cannabis terpenoids reported that valencene possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can boost the immune system and lead to long-term health.
- A 2016 study on mice found that applying valencene to the skin reduced atopic dermatitis and associated itching by reducing the inflammatory response on the skin's barrier, concluding that valencene has a potential therapeutic advantage when treating and managing atopic dermatitis. The same study noted valencene's ability to inhibit skin photoaging related to UV exposure through the same mechanisms.
- Researchers tested the potential of several terpenes to reduce allergic reactions. They noted that certain sesquiterpenes, such as valencene, had the highest inhibitory effect on the release and production of enzymes associated with certain allergies.
- In a 2017 study, researchers tested the essential oil of Chinese bayberry, containing high concentrations of valencene, for its ability to prevent cancer cell spread. The study found that valencene was effective in boosting the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs for all four cancer cells tested, pointing to a synergistic effect between the terpene and certain cancer medicines.
Valencene & Commercial Products
Valencene is a common addition to various household products. It's particularly effective as an insecticide, posing as a natural alternative to many harsh chemical products.
- Research on yellow cedar terpenes showed valencene could kill arthropods at relatively low concentrations, presenting a natural alternative to artificially produced chemical insecticides.
Do Terpenes like Valencene Get You High?
Terpenes cannot get you "high" like THC. Still, they synergize with cannabinoids to produce psychoactive effects such as mild euphoria or relaxation. Valencene is known for its energizing properties, which could contribute to a cultivar’s sativa-like effects.
Sources of Valencene in Nature
Valencene is present in various plants, including common fruits and vegetables, lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, kale, and oregano. Valencene is also present in chamomile and green tea.
Which Cannabis Strains Have The Most Valencene?
Strains high in valencene are generally considered mood boosters. They can aid alertness, promote cognitive function, and contribute to a sense of euphoria.
Ask your budtender for a valencene strain or take a whiff to determine if sweet, citrus-forward terpene may be present in your cannabis flower.
The highest concentrations of valencene can be found in strains such as:
- Agent Orange
- Sour Diesel
The Bottom Line
The sweet, citrusy valencene is an effective insect repellent, skin protectant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic compound that does more than give our personal care products a pleasant aroma. It has the potential to act as a therapeutic agent for a variety of ailments while contributing to cannabis’ unique flavor and sensory experience.
To find valencene-containing strains, check the product’s certificates of analysis (COA) before you buy. COAs list the cannabinoid and terpene testing results, giving you precise potency information. Alternatively, ask your budtender for help.