If you’ve spent much time around cannabis, you’ve probably noticed a curious phenomenon. While all the cannabis we consume comes from the same plant—cannabis sativa—different strains offer a bewildering array of different flavors and aromas. How is this possible? It all comes down to what are called the cannabis terpenes.
What are terpenes? At their simplest level, they’re a family of fragrant hydrocarbons (what many of us call “essential oils”) that give different cannabis strains their unique aromas. In today’s post, we’ll introduce you to the world of terpenes and their effects, as well as offering a few examples of the most important of these fascinating all-natural compounds. By the end, you’ll have gained valuable knowledge that will help guide all your future cannabis purchases to come!
If you follow cannabis news at all, you’re probably familiar with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. These natural chemicals are often described as the most important “active ingredients” in cannabis, but they’re far from the only ones. Terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds all have a role to play, and recent research suggests that the aromatic cannabis terpenes are significant contributors to the cannabis plant’s effects.
While researchers have identified at least 150 cannabis terpenes, they aren’t limited to the cannabis plant! In fact, they’re the largest and most diverse group of naturally occurring compounds, found in plants, trees, even some insects and animals!
As we hinted at earlier, those cannabis terpenes do more than impart intriguing aromas. As recent research suggests, they have the potential to impart medically useful effects as well. Here’s a personalized introduction to a few of the most important types of terpenes.
Just as THC is the most significant cannabinoid, myrcene is the most abundant cannabis terpene. It’s known for a fruity and grapelike aroma with a hint of musk. And in addition to its gentle sedative effects, myrcene helps coordinate the actions of other terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds. As a result, it’s sometimes known as the “Mother of Terpenes.”
If you’ve noticed a lemony scent in cannabis strains such as Jack Herer or Durban Poison, you’re smelling its limonene content. Known for its uplifting and mood-lightening effects, this terpene is also believed to help reduce stress and anxiety. Other studies suggest this terpene may help regulate our immune system, and potentially even play a role in controlling the spread of certain cancers.
Together, these closely related terpenes are the most common ones on earth (thanks to their role in constituting the scent of pine trees). It should come as no surprise they also empower cannabis strains with a distinctive piney, resinous aroma, such as in Blue Dream or Dutch Treat.
Like many terpenes, cannabinoids, and other cannabis compounds, pinene has anti-inflammatory effects. That’s why inhaling cannabis rich in pinene may help reduce common inflammatory responses associated with conditions like asthma, for example.
With scents of black pepper, cinnamon, and oregano, this cannabis terpene is as memorable as it is medically active. Studies suggest caryophyllene delivers powerful analgesic and anti-anxiety properties. It often makes its way into anti-inflammatory topicals and creams, thanks to its unusual molecular binding properties.
Do you have any further questions about cannabis terpenes, or how the natural compounds in cannabis partner with your body? Reach out anytime; we’re always here to answer your questions.
Or, come by and visit us in person to explore the wide variety of aromas, flavors and terpenes we have in stock at the dispensary. Of course you can always peruse our full menu online, too. Either way, we look forward to seeing you soon!