While most people associate marijuana with the cannabis industry, the plant is much more than that. Popular cannabinoids like CBD and THC receive a lot of attention when it comes to cannabis, but terpenes are another natural component of the Cannabis sativa plant with specific medical benefits.
In the sections below, you’ll learn everything there is to know about terpenes, including which ones are the most common and their biological relevance for health. We’ll even show you some CBD hemp products that include a variety of terpenes.
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What are Cannabis Terpenes?
A terpene is a hydrocarbon (hydrogen + carbon), which is a type of organic molecule. Terpenes from marijuana make up the majority of the essential oils found in many plants, including conifers (aka Pines).
The name “terpene” comes from the word “terpentine,” which is a solvent prepared by distilling pine tree resin (a contemporary spin on the word “turpentine”).
It isn’t just cannabis plants that have them. Terpenes are produced by a range of plant and insect species as a defensive mechanism against animal and insect predation, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.
In humans, however, cannabis terpenes have the opposite effect.
Terpenes are not the same as terpenoids. Because they share oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon atoms, terpenoids have a more intricate chemical structure than terpenes.
What’s the Difference Between Terpenes and Trichomes?
The term “trichome” is also well-known in the cannabis community. Trichomes are the hair-like bulges found on the buds and leaves of all cannabis plants. The crystalline appearance of the plant is due to trichomes.
Trichomes, like terpenes, serve to defend plants from a variety of threats such as ultraviolet radiation, transpiration, and freezing intolerance.
Trichomes are classified into several different types and can assume several different shapes. But, in cannabis plants, its trichomes fall under “glandular” because they contain secretory cells.
Terpenes also don’t produce cannabinoids like CBD and THC.
If you’re wondering why this matters to cannabis users, it’s because trichomes produce essential oils that contain THC, CBD, and a variety of other cannabinoids.
With prolonged exposure to light, the generation of terpenes actually increases.
As a result, the more light a cannabis plant receives, the more trichomes it produces, as well as the amount of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Furthermore, due to enhanced terpene production, the aroma will be stronger!
Different Types of Terpenes: Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Bitter
Terpenes, like cannabinoids, are found in cannabis plants and number in the hundreds. Despite the fact that the distinctions are often minor, scientists have made tremendous progress in classifying the many types of cannabis and their effects.
Terpenes, for example, are categorized into four categories: sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter.
They’re then split into groups including fruity, flowery, citrus, dairy, warm, sharp, vegetal, and nutty.
As a result, a cannabis strain with a strong lemon aroma, such as Lemon Skunk or Lemon Haze, may have a strong lemon aroma. This sour aroma usually denotes a Sativa strain that gives users an energizing high.
You’ll be able to tailor your cannabis experiences to your preferences once you’ve learnt about the many terpene varieties.
Looking for a way to make yourself feel better? A pinene-rich strain is your best bet. Do you desire to relax and unwind? The myrcene terpene is for you if that’s the case.
Tokers are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of different types of terpenes, as well as the fact that terms like sativa, indica, and hybrid have little to do with a strain’s genetics or psychoactive effects.
Instead, consumers are focusing on marijuana terpenes and uncommon cannabinoids like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
- CBG – the regulator cannabinoid
- CBN – the relief cannabinoid
- THCV – the energy and weightloss cannabinoid
How Terpenes Affect Your Cannabis Experience
So, now that you’re aware that different types of terpenes can produce different types of experiences, how do you use this information to your advantage when selecting a strain?
The first step is to become aware of the most common types of terpenes and their effects.
For instance, myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis and is often referred to as the “couch-lock” terpene due to its sedative effects.
However, some users may find that myrcene actually dampens mental and physical energy and is not the best choice for pain and anxiety relief.
As with weed, terpenes can affect different users in different ways. For instance, phytol has energizing and creative effects while, for others, it behaves more like linalool by inducing a calm, relaxed state.
The Most Common Cannabis Terpenes
Do you want to learn more about terpenes and how they influence your cannabis high? Check out our terpenes chart to learn more about how different smell molecules might affect your high.
Click on the terpenes chart to read more about which strains have the most terpenes, their advantages, and what to expect.
For decades, humans have relied on nerolidol for its calming and soothing qualities. It is a therapeutically helpful biological compound in addition to being a food flavoring agent.
Ginger, jasmine, tea tree, lavender, and lemongrass all contain nerolidol.
Nerolidol has been demonstrated to have anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving), antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties in studies.
Phytol can be found in all kinds of plants.
Citrus fruits, lettuce, and green tea are just a few examples of plants that produce substantial amounts of it. It’s particularly strong in matcha and sencha tea kinds.
Other high-phytol foods not listed in our terpenes chart include beans, yeast, legumes, pork, and fortified grain products.
Phytol has intriguing promise in the treatment of tumors, inflammation, convulsions, oxidative stress, and more in humans!
Linalool is a common compound found in plants. Linalool is produced naturally by approximately 200 different plants. Rosewood, thyme, basil, birch trees, and jasmine are a few examples, but lavender is the most well-known.
If you’ve ever used a flowery cleaning product, drank floral tea, or utilized a medicative home treatment, you’ve probably encountered linalool.
Linalool is found in a variety of foods, and the average person consumes roughly 2 grams per year.
Linalool has a calming and soothing effect, which is why it’s included in so many items and foods we use every day.
Myrcene, also known as beta-myrcene, can be found in a variety of plants, including cannabis. This terpene can be found in a variety of foods and herbs, including mangos and hops.
Myrcene, like many other terpenes found in cannabis, is non-toxic. Because of its fresh, citrusy tones with traces of spiciness, it’s frequently employed in dishes as a flavor enhancer.
You’ve probably eaten a lot more myrcene than you realized because it’s so common!
Myrcene also has calming and pain-relieving properties, which is why it’s so prevalent in indica strains.
Limonene is the most citrus-y terpene in marijuana.
Plants use limonene to protect themselves from certain hazards. This terpene is used by plants to repel insects and other pests. The cannabis plant most certainly makes limonene for the same reason, as well as for a variety of additional purposes.
Because of its pleasant and stimulating scent, limonene is widely used.
This terpene has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid with arthritis, asthma, and skin disorders, among other things. In terms of the skin, limonene is supposed to aid in the treatment of acne.
Over the course of your life, you’ve probably encountered pinene in a variety of essential oils. Pinene is by far the most fragrant of all the terpenes discovered in marijuana.
Pinene can be found throughout the plant kingdom. Cedar, fir trees, dill, orange, parsley, pine trees, rosemary, and eucalyptus are just a few examples. Pinene is one of the most commonly detected terpenes in nature.
Cannabis cultivars strong in alpha-pinene, especially when coupled with CBD, are thought to promote anti-inflammatory benefits.
The full name of this terpene is β-caryophyllene, and much to your potential surprise, you can likely find plenty of it in your kitchen. In fact, caryophyllene can be found in basil, cloves, black pepper, and cinnamon.
Beta-caryophyllene has a woody, spicy, and peppery aroma. It is very similar to the smell of black pepper overall.
As our terpene chart shows, any strain with high levels of this terpene will have a peppery scent and offer tokers pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
Let Marijuana Terpenes Decide Your Strain
So, now that you understand how terpenes and cannabinoids work together to produce a variety of psychoactive effects, you’ll be much better equipped to choose the strains that you’ll like the most!
Instead of asking your favorite online dispensary’s budtender for an indica or sativa dominant strain, focus on the aroma and let your nose guide you.
Check out our terpenes chart for more information if you’re not sure what to expect from each scent.
If a strain appeals to your sense of smell, you should expect a pleasant experience as well.
You can move on to learning to associate more subtle odors with more subtle benefits once you’ve gotten some practice linking common scents with positive effects.
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