Most cannabis consumers are well versed in cannabinoids. The cannabinoids THC and CBD have been mainstream buzzwords for a while. However, there’s a new buzzword taking off in the cannabis industry these days. And that word is terpenes.
Like the marijuana flower, terpenes are another by-product of the cannabis plant. Terpenes refer to the oily residue found in the glands and leaves of the plant. They exist within the same regions that produce CBD and THC oil.
They are known for being aromatic and often contribute to the unique smells and flavors found in various strains of marijuana. For example, if a strain of marijuana has a fruity or citrusy quality to its flavor, this will be thanks to the terpenes. There are over one hundred known terpenes in existence.
Terpenes are thought to be key in determining the effect a strain of marijuana gives off. It is thought that terpenes may interact with other chemical elements of the plant such as cannabinoids or THC to directly shape the user experience.
The various potential outcomes of these interactions are vast and not completely understood. However, the existence of terpenes does give growers a chance to be more artisanal in their production of marijuana. It also gives consumers the opportunity to be more selective.
Labs will now test strains of marijuana to establish a detailed profile of the terpenes that are at work. In this way, they are able to better inform the potential user as to the experience they will have with the strain.
What are terpenes?
You already know what terpenes are because you’ve experienced them all your life. Simply put, terpenes are what give an orange its citrusy smell. They give pine trees their unique aroma. They’re even responsible for the relaxing effects of lavender. They are chemicals that determine how things smell.
But wait. You thought that cannabinoids were the compounds in the cannabis plant that caused healing, right? Yes, but it’s been discovered that terpenes can play a big role in that as well. In fact, cannabinoids and terpenes work together in something called the entourage effect.
The entourage effect simply means that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, along with the hundreds of other compounds, along with the terpenes, are meant to work together. It’s the whole plant that does the best job, not just a single compound. While relief does come from using CBD oil or THC oil, whole plant therapy has been the most common use. Utilizing all the compounds and terpenes in the plant may just be the best way after all.
Terpenes can intensify or downplay the effects of cannabinoids. Have you ever noticed how two similar strains can produce profoundly different effects? One may leave you with ‘couch lock’ and the other may energize you? That’s another aspect of the entourage effect, which is driven by both cannabinoids and terpenes.
the ones to know
Currently, there are at least 20,000 different terpenes in existence and the cannabis plant has more than 100 of these terpenes. Many terpenes that are produced by the cannabis plant are also found elsewhere in nature. However, there are a couple of terpenes that are in high concentrations in cannabis plants.
This terpene’s name says it all, really. Pinene is found most abundantly in the pine tree and is what gives pine needles their distinctive smell. Found in two varieties, alpha, which is responsible for that wonderful pine aroma, and beta, which has a scent like a rosemary, dill, or parsley. Pinene is a strong bronchodilator, but also has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects that have been used for centuries in herbal medicines. Pinene can be found in strains like Blueberry, Blue Cheese, and Blue Dream, Cannalope Kush, Cinex, Critical Kush, Duct Tape, Northern Lights X Big Buds, Guerilla Glue, Rude Boi.
Myrcene, which can also be found in mangoes, is the primary terpene found in cannabis plants. In fact, some plants can have up to 65 percent of their terpene profile made up by myrcene alone. The presence of myrcene often determines whether a specific strain can be considered an indica or sativa. Plants with more than 0.5 percent myrcene are said to be indica. Myrcene is responsible for giving marijuana its distinctive aroma. Myrcene has relaxing properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Strains that are high in myrcene are Blueberry, Blue Cheese, Blue Dream, Cinex, Critical Kush, Duct Tape, Peyote Critical, and Wedding Cake, White Widow.
The second most abundant terpene found in cannabis, limonene can also be found in various citrus fruits and is responsible for the citrusy smell. However, it may not be present in all cannabis strains. Limonene has powerful anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, and its great smell means that it is a common additive in household cleaning and cosmetic products. Limonene can also help to bust stress and enhance mood. Strains high in Limonene include Cinex, Critical Kush, Blue Cheese, Blue Dream, Cannalope Kush, Cinex, and Girl Scout Cookies, as well as Rude Boi, Wedding Cake.
If you’ve ever used lavender for its relaxant effects, then you’re familiar with the terpene linalool. Linalool is widely known for its stress-relieving, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant effects. Linalool can help to balance out the anxious side effect sometimes produced by THC and this makes it an ideal terpene for the treatment of anxiety. Linalool is present in strains like Amnesia Haze, Cinex, Critical Kush, and OG Shark.
This terpene, which has a spicy, woody, peppery scent, is also found in black pepper and cinnamon. Studies indicate that this one small terpene is capable of performing the big job of treating anxiety, depression, and inflammation. Caryophyllene is found in such strains as Blueberry, Blue Cindy, Blue Cheese, Blue Dream, Cannalope Kush, Cinex, Critical Kush, Duct Tape, Girl Scout Cookies, Guerilla Glue, Northern Lights X Big Buds, and Guerilla Glue, Peyote Critical, Rude Boi, Shiatsu Kush, Wedding Cake.
While many other strains help to increase appetite, which is beneficial to those who have conditions in which nausea and loss of appetite are a factor, strains that contain humulene may actually help to decrease appetite. Found in hops, cloves, and basil, humulene has also shown anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in research. Strains that contain humulene include Blueberry, Blue Cheese, Blue Dream, Cannalope Kush, Cinex, Critical Kush, Girl Scout Cookies, Do Si Dos, and Duct Tape, Northern Lights X Big Buds, Guerilla Glue, Peyote Critical, Rude Boi, Shiatsu Kush, Wedding Cake, White Widow.
As said, cannabis contains some 100 known terpenes, all of which produce their own effects. Combined with the cannabinoids and other terpenes, the future of cannabis may just be in the cultivation of strains rich in certain terpenes and cannabinoids to create strains tailored to produce certain effects.
Vaporizing and terpenes
Carbonization destroys many of the terpenes, just like it destroys many of the cannabinoids. Because of this, using a portable vaporizer with temperature control is probably the best way to get the most out of the terpenes found in cannabis. Like cannabinoids, terpenes have their own individual optimal temperature, and these temps can vary widely. Researching the various temperatures at which the terpenes you desire to be released is key in achieving the desired effect.
Terpenes and cannabinoids are two compounds found in cannabis that when used together help produce a synergistic effect. Selecting strains based upon the terpenes’ effects can help you to achieve the result you desire.