Understanding Cannabis Terpenes
As the cannabis industry evolves, scientists and laboratories across the country are searching for new ways to improve the quality and experience of their products. Delving into the world of cannabis products, one will undoubtedly see a lot of producers touting the variety and quality of “terpenes” in their goods. With all the terminology and claims in the world of weed, the chatter can become a little confusing to new users so we’re here to help.
What are cannabis terpenes?
One of the ways that growers, extractors, and manufacturers are evaluating their products is based on terpene content. Terpenes are what give each strain their unique flavor and taste, but they have a much broader role in botany as a whole.
Terpenes exist all throughout nature, in organic plant matter and are in the leaves and fruits of budding plants. In nature, they primarily serve as a defense mechanism, warding off hungry herbivores while attracting pollinators.
The cannabis plant contains terpenes, too. They’re in the naturally-growing bud, of course, but are also to be found in cannabis oil concentrates, such as sugar wax, crumble, shatter, and tinctures. When it comes to the flower vs. oil debate, terpenes can be found in much higher concentrations in extracts, resulting in an enhanced flavor profile and exaggerated effects relative to flower.
What are the benefits of cannabis terpenes?
Varied terpene profiles are responsible for the wide range of flavors and scents of different marijuana strains. Understanding and mapping these profiles has allowed producers to predict how different breeding strategies will result in new kinds of cannabis experiences. However, this is just the start of the role of terpenes in this field. The medical cannabis community remains enthused about the potential benefits of different terpenes because certain ones interact with the body in ways that can provide anti-inflammatory or antihistamine effects, for example.
Types of cannabis terpenes
In cannabis, terpenes are critical to the user experience. They modulate the effects of each strain. Some can work in concert with the uplifting effect common of sativas, while others can reinforce the sedative effect of indicas. Furthermore, terpenes can work with indica/sativa hybrids to elicit more nuanced results. Scientists are still discovering more about terpenes every day, but we have a pretty good idea of the most common terpenes and their roles in our lives are:
Myrcene has a very peppery and earthy smell that is commonly found in some herbs, such as bay leaves. Myrcene is extremely sedative and is the most common terpene found in the indica flower. Test results as high as three to five percent myrcene can be found in most indica dominant strains, and the user can expect to feel a body high that relaxes the muscles.
Limonene is another terpene that you classically find in sativas. It encourages an uplifting effect that gives energy and vitality for your morning. Limonene is most commonly found in oranges and other citrus fruits such as grapefruit, limes, and lemons. Check the back of your household cleaner and you very well may find some limonene amongst the ingredients. Because of its chemical makeup, it serves as a great cleaning agent with a nice lemony scent. You can find limonene in the strains Green Crack and Jack Herrer. Once you’ve noticed it, you’ll easily be able to identify limonene in a strain by the smell.
Linalool displays a floral, somewhat spicy aroma. Its calming effects have been appreciated for centuries, and linalool is present in lavender and several other fragrant flowers. Many linalool-rich strains are marketed as relaxers and stress relievers, so it’s often found in strains used for cannabis topical creams.
What do oregano, cloves, and cinnamon have in common? Caryophyllene! This highly desired terpene has some very special capabilities. Your body has two receptors for cannabis, called CB-1 and CB-2. Caryophyllene has the ability to bond to the CB-2 receptors when smoked. As a result, while you won’t feel any extra euphoric feelings because of caryophyllene, it does help to boost some physiological effects of cannabis, such as its anti-inflammatory properties.
Humulin is a common terpene found in hops and other cousins of cannabis. Beer lovers everywhere find their home comfort with humulene, which is also known to be anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. If you like strains like Girl Scout Cookies and Sherbet, then Humulene might be the reason for that! Make sure to seek out strains like these if you plan to avoid the munchies because Humulene is also an appetite suppressant. The cannabis plant produces humulene as a natural pest deterrent and to prevent fungal manifestations.
Pinene is a terpene they can be found exactly where you would assume a terpene called pining can be found, in pine trees. It exists in two varieties known as alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. The two forms do have slightly different effects, with just about the same driving force behind them. When you smoke a high-pinene strain such as White Fire OG, you can expect an extremely focused high. People often seek out strains high in pinene in order to engage in creative activities such as painting or writing.
Terpenes vs. cannabinoids
It is important to address the distinction between cannabinoids and terpenes because they are sometimes confused for one another by people just beginning to learn about the subject. Cannabinoids CBD, THC, and CBN are chemicals found in cannabis which interact directly with your endocannabinoid system, and thus are responsible for its effects on appetite, mood, memory, and pain sensation. Terpenes, on the other hand, don’t interact with the endocannabinoid system directly. Cannabinoids and terpenes do interact with each other, however. They serve to complement each other and bring out aspects of each strain that are more pronounced, thus terpenes can affect your high even though they wouldn’t do so on their own. This is commonly known as the “entourage effect”.
Terpenes in your wax, shatter, and oils!
Terpenes aren’t just found naturally in the flower but in your cartridges as well. Each cartridge contains THC distillate which is a concentrated form of THC, plus some terpenes that have a great flavor and helped create the indica / sativa affect. The terpenes that are added into your cartridges, however, are most likely not from cannabis. Due to the fact that terpenes are found in most organic plant material, scientists have learned how to extract them from rich sources like fruit peels and bottle them up in a way that mimics eye strain of cannabis. For example to make the strain that tastes like green crack, one can use a combination of limonene, caryophyllene, and a few others to mimic the scent and flavor. So far these botanically derived terpenes have not been found to be damaging to the respiratory system. At Weden we always make sure to provide safe cannabis products that are laboratory tested for your safety.
Terpenes found in concentrates exist in much higher concentrations. While some of the terpenes are lost in the extraction process, most of them are preserved and cared for in a way that ensures their survival. As a result, it is said that cannabis concentrates have more modulated effects that are exaggerated by the existence of these terpenes. Special concentrates are also being developed across the country that has specifically been designed to have incredibly elevated levels of terpenes up to 15%.
Terpenes are a tool, and knowing how to create the right high for yourself takes time and plenty of research, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice and experiment in order to find out what works for you. As the industry continues its progress, you can expect to see a lot more research go into the fine details of compounds like terpenes and how we can use them to further promote the health of our patients. The next time you visit our dispensary or order delivery, ask your Weden budtender or driver all about choosing the right cannabis products for you!