Cannabis connoisseurs are quick to appreciate the smell, taste, and effects produced by their favorite cannabis products. But did you know terpenes play a key role in your cannabis experience?
Terpenes are more than just a naturally occurring chemical compound. In fact, they play a key role in triggering many of the senses and sensations one feels when using cannabis.
But what are terpenes exactly? In this beginner’s guide to terpenes, we’ll answer this question and more by exploring how terpenes contribute to the unique characteristics of different cannabis strains. So if you’re new to all this, read on! You might be surprised by just how fascinating these tiny molecules are!
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic molecules produced in the trichomes, which are tiny hair-like structures on the surface of the cannabis plant. Trichomes help protect the plant from predators and pests, and they also play a role in attracting pollinators such as bees.
Over 150 terpenes have been identified in cannabis, each with their own distinct aroma. Terpenes are not only present in cannabis plants, they are also found in many other fragrant-heavy fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices like mangoes, lemongrass and rosemary.
Besides contributing to the taste and smell of cannabis, terpenes also play a role in the effects you feel when consuming a particular strain. Although terpenes don’t produce a high on their own, they do interact with the way the body processes THC and CBD.
Research suggests bioactive terpenes provide a number of biological and pharmacological benefits including antiplasmodial and antiviral properties.
How Do Terpenes Affect the Body?
Ever wonder why some marijuana strains give you a different high than others? It turns out its not just THC calling the shots. Terpenes play an important role in how the body processes THC and CBD, in large part dictating the potency and effect you experience.
When consumed, terpenes interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors found throughout the body that are responsible for regulating mood, pain, and appetite.
Research suggests that different terpenes have different effects on the body. Some are more energizing or uplifting, while others are more relaxing or sedative. Terpenes are thought to promote relaxation and stress relief, and they also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The Entourage Effect
Cannabinoids and terpenes are two different kinds of compounds found in the cannabis plant. Both have been shown to have therapeutic effects, but researchers were excited to discover that terpenes can mimic the beneficial effects of cannabinoids when used on their own.
This brings us to a hot buzzword in the cannabis community – the entourage effect. Researchers know terpenes can produce numerous benefits, but when they are combined with other compounds found in cannabis working synergistically to produce a greater effect than a single compound.
This interaction is known as the entourage effect. In other words, the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes is thought to produce a more powerful effect than either cannabinoids or terpene alone.
The role terpenes play in the entourage effect shows potential for those looking to treat a variety of health conditions including depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, and infections.
The Top Seven Terpenes Found in Cannabis
Each cannabis strain is unique thanks to the plethora of terpenes that determine the flavour and aroma of each plant. Although an entire book could be written about all the terpene profiles, let’s focus on the top 7 most well-known terpenes and their distinct benefits.
Aroma: Floral, Pungent, Earthy
Fun Fact: It’s thought that myrcene helps improve the absorption of THC and other cannabinoids.
Benefits: Analgesic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, sedating and relaxing. When it comes to sleep, you can’t go wrong with this one! But if your goal is an energizing effect rather than sedation, choose strains containing less than 0.5% of myrcene.
Strains: Lemon Z, OS.One Powdered Doughnut, Strawberry Cake, Fruity Pebbles OG
Aroma: Earthy, Piney, Herbal, Spicy
Fun Fact: Pinene is the most abundant terpene in nature, found exclusively in cannabis and pine trees.
Benefits: The benefits of pinene are extensive. Known to be a powerful antioxidant, this terpene supports the nervous system and has antimicrobial properties. Additionally, it can act as an anti-inflammatory to help relieve pain in your muscles or joints while also providing antibacterial properties which keep harmful bacteria at bay!
Strains: Gorilla Berry, Platinum Cake
Aroma: Woody, Spicy, Herbal
Fun Fact: Did you know that the plant compound humulene is responsible for beer’s woody, earthy taste?
Benefits: Whether you’re looking to improve your physical performance, reduce inflammation, or just relax after a long day, humulene can help. Studies have shown Humulene helps boost energy levels and support mental focus, making it ideal for people looking to up their athletic game or power through a busy work week.
Strains: Bacio Punch #8, Limelight (Ultra Sour)
Aroma: Citrus, Spicy, Pepper, Earthy
Fun Fact: Caryophyllene is a terpene found in spices like cloves and black pepper, as well as many herbs and green veggies such as broccoli.
Benefits: Caryophyllene is one of the main terpenes shown to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This means it could potentially be used to treat conditions like anxiety, pain, inflammation, and even depression.
Strains: Black Sugar Rose, Sensi Star, Jean-Guy
Aroma: Citrus (particularly orange), Fresh Spice
Fun Fact: Did you know that the citrusy smell of lemons is caused by a compound called limonene?
Benefits: Limonene offers a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but studies also show this compound has a soothing effect on the nervous system and can help relieve stress and improve mood.
Strains: OS.ONE Durban, Poison, MAC-1
Aroma: Floral, Lavender, Citrus, Fresh Spice
Fun act: Linalool can be found in over 200 species of fragrant plants, including lavender, basil, and rosewood. Aside from giving plants a strong scent, linalool is also used in perfumes and food flavourings.
Benefits: When inhaled, linalool produces a sedative effect that can help relieve anxiety and stress. It also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an excellent aid for relieving pain. In addition, linalool has been shown to boost the immune system and improve sleep quality.
Strains: ICC x Kush Mints 11, Orange CKS (Orange Cookies), Subway Scientist
Aroma: Lime, Herbal, Woody, Floral
Fun Fact: Terpinolene has a complex, fresh aroma and antimicrobial properties, that make it a popular ingredient for many soaps and cleaners.
Benefits: The benefits of terpinolene are numerous. In addition to its antimicrobial properties, it can also fight nausea and loss of appetite while alleviating pain. It has a calming effect and may help you sleep, especially when combined with linalool.
Strains: Ultra Sour, Delahaze, Ghost Train Haze UP20, Jack Haze
Getting the Most Out of Terpenes
One of the best ways to enjoy terpenes is by vaping. There are plenty of exciting vape flavour profiles to choose from to ensure your vape experience is always new.
Whether your taste buds crave a sweet berry profile, a refreshing splash of citrus, or you prefer more earthy notes, here are some great cartridge flavours to try that are packed full of terpenes:
- Blackberry Cream Indica 510 Thread Cartridge
- King of the North 510 Thread Cartridge
- Mango Mercy Full Spectrum Cart
- Purple Monkey Vape Cartridge
Finding Your Favorite Terpenes
For many, part of the fun of using cannabis is exploring new flavors and aromas. Terpenes not only play an important role when it comes to our sense of smell and taste, but they can also contribute to the overall effects cannabis has on our body.
If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences with terpenes, comment below! And be sure to visit us at your nearby Cannabis Bazaar location to speak with our friendly budtenders about cannabis products perfect for you.