By now you’ve probably heard about THC and CBD, two cannabinoids believed to be responsible for most of the mind-altering and therapeutic effects of cannabis. But there’s much more to cannabis than just cannabinoids. One of these compounds that have recently been getting attention is terpenes.
What are terpenes? Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbon compounds that exist in all plants, including cannabis. What do terpenes do? These compounds are responsible for giving plants their signature scent. Whether it’s the sweetness of a strawberry or the refreshing scent of mint, you can bet terpenes were responsible for it.
When it comes to cannabis, terpenes give buds their aroma and flavor. When you catch a whiff of your favorite strain, it’s the terpenes that you’re smelling. Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, although some are much more common than others.
It is thought that plants developed terpenes as part of their evolutionary process to help them lure pollinators and deter threats. Each cannabis strain features a unique terpene profile (different terpenes in different concentrations), giving it a unique scent and flavor. Some strains are named after their aroma, making it easier to guess which terpenes it contains. For example, Lemon Kush gets its lemony taste from the terpene limonene, a terpene that is common in citrus-flavored strains.
But the terpene content of your buds will depend on more than just their genetics. It is also dependent on factors like the plant’s growing environment, growing soil, age, the curing process used, and how carefully the buds have been handled.
Now that you know what they are, you may be wondering, “What are terpenes used for?” As previously mentioned, terpenes give cannabis its iconic aroma. But recently, researchers have found that cannabis terpenes may do much more than that.
Terpenes are now thought to contribute to the therapeutic effects produced by cannabis. Recent research found that certain cannabis terpenes may be able to modulate pain perception and may even have anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, cannabis terpenes are believed to work in synergy with cannabinoids and other plant compounds to produce more comprehensive effects than cannabinoids could on their own. This phenomenon has been termed ‘the entourage effect’.
You can see the entourage effect in action whenever you vape full-spectrum oils. When compared to THC distillate, full-spectrum oils produce more intense and long-lasting effects because they contain the full spectrum of cannabis compounds instead of just THC. But terpenes don’t just boost THC’s effectiveness, CBD terps can work to boost the effectiveness of full-spectrum CBD products as well. As a result, many people consider full-spectrum products to be superior to isolates.
Here are some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis strains and what you should know about them.
Myrcene: The most common terpene in cannabis. Has a herbal and earthy aroma and may potentially have anti-inflammatory effects.
Pinene: The most common terpene in the natural world. Smells like pine needles and fresh-cut grass.
Caryophyllene: Peppery and spicy. This terpene is also thought to act as a cannabinoid and may produce anti-inflammatory effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Limonene: Fruity and citrusy smell. Could potentially alleviate anxiety and stress.
Terpinolene: A multidimensional terpene that smells piney, floral, and citrusy. Believed to have uplifting effects. Only one in ten cannabis strains feature terpinolene as their dominant terpene.
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