It’s just an unfamiliar term. In fact, terpenes are components found in the essential oils of plants. And plants that contain terpenes grow in large numbers around us — citrus fruits, conifers, umbrellas, etc. These are mint and lavender, anise and dill, orange, lemon, grapefruit, cedar, fir, spruce, wormwood, chamomile and thousands of familiar and exotic representatives of the flora of different countries and continents.
Terpene compounds create a characteristic smell and determine the healing properties of plants, which people have known since ancient times. So, going on a long journey, the Vikings took with them infusions of cones, bark and needles, which they used as wound healing, anti-inflammatory, tonic drugs — to lubricate wounds, save themselves from ailments and replenish vitality. It is now already known that terpenes contained in pines, spruces and firs have powerful antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties, due to which they are able to improve the regenerative abilities of body cells and start the autophagy mechanism, in which the process of self-regulation and cell regeneration takes place. And then only they understood that the remedy helps to survive.
Properties of different terpenes
Until now, all the properties and possibilities of terpenes have not yet been fully studied. But large-scale research is currently underway and much is already known about how terpenoid substances affect human health and in the treatment of what diseases they are effective. For example, Limonene is a common terpene that most people can recognize by smell. It is found in the essential oils of lemon, orange, lime, bergamot and coniferous plants. In the study Chemico-Biological Interactions it is noted that it can regulate the behavior of certain immune cells and protect the body from a number of diseases. Limonene also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antidiabetic, and anticancer properties. Limonene, as well as its derivatives, also have chemoprophylactic activity against breast, skin, liver, lung, and pancreas cancers. Pinene is another terpene that provides a fresh, vibrant aroma of pine needles, rosemary, and basil. It has a preventive and restorative effect on the psyche. A study published in Acta Salus Vitae notes that it can act as a bronchodilator, allowing more air to enter the lungs. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect and can fight some infections when germs enter the body through inhalation. Camphene reduces the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in blood plasma.
Natural medicines and biologically active preparations that are created from terpenes
Hundreds of terpenes have been studied so far. Their bioactive properties, the ability to help in the treatment of a number of diseases have been established. Not surprisingly, some terpenoid complexes are already being used for medicinal purposes. The therapeutic effect depends on the concentration of the terpene itself and how a person uses it. That is why, terpenes began to be synthesized in order to obtain the desired concentration of the active substance. And then on their basis to produce drugs. Everyone knows camphor, on the basis of which they create antimicrobial, analgesic, antiseptic drugs for the treatment of neuralgia, ENT and pulmonary diseases, heart failure. For their production, camphene is used — a monoterpene contained in the essential oils of rosemary, basil, laurel, juniper and other plants. Turpentine is also terpene.
The researchers found that the terpenoids with the strongest properties are found among the monoterpenes in the essential oils of fruits and various parts of coniferous trees. Now, on their basis, natural preparations are also produced, which are used in various fields of medicine. These are universal remedies that have a wide range of activities — for example, they perfectly heal wounds and burns, work well for the prevention and treatment of viral infections, help fight cancer, are used in children and adults during the rise in the incidence of SARS and influenza, cope with sinusitis and sinusitis, are used in dentistry for the treatment of stomatitis, periodontal disease, gingivitis, etc. Such an extensive scope is due to the fact that these modern drugs contain more than 300 types of active terpenes, and modern biotechnology has made it possible to create drugs that can work in different directions. Another category of terpene-based products is designed to normalize the functioning of the cardiovascular system, improve brain activity, and improve metabolism. These drugs are designed to reduce the risks of heart disease, including the likelihood of heart failure, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, control of «jumps» in blood pressure, prevention of atherosclerosis, normalization of blood glucose levels, improvement of memory, attention, etc. In 2020, scientists from several scientific institutions at once, having conducted large-scale studies, found out that terpenes are also able to solve the problems of biological aging and can effectively fight age-related diseases. Their ability to slow down the processes of cellular aging, suppress the growth of tumor cells in various types of cancer and to increase life expectancy continue to be studied at the present time and already give the first results.