When cannabis enthusiasts smell their favorite marijuana strain or concentrate, they immediately identify multiple aromatic notes. These flavors and scents are derived from a chemical compound called terpenes. Terpenes are found throughout the plant world, including in cannabis flower buds. While these fragile chemical compounds can degrade with certain extraction processes, others can preserve a great deal of them. So, why are terpenes important and how do they affect your cannabis experience?
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are organic chemical compounds found in the trichomes of cannabis flower. Trichomes are resinous, hair-like glands that contain therapeutic cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN, as well as flavonoids and terpenes. While there are tens of thousands of known terpenes, cannabis produces around 100 terpenes that vary by strain.
Terpenes are used by plants as a biological mechanism to ward off predators or attract pollinators. Different growing conditions like weather, light, and humidity can affect the production of terpenes. A high concentration of trichomes on a flower strain produces unique and potent smells and flavors that dabbers can enjoy.
The Difference Between Terpenes And Terpenoids
People searching “what are terpenes,” “cannabis terpenes,” and “marijuana terpenes” may run into two terms, terpenes and terpenoids, which seem like they might mean the same thing. Terpenes and terpenoids are both secreted in trichomes and produce fragrant aromas, but terpenoids are more chemically complex.
Terpenoids undergo a transformation during the curing and drying process. Many people believe that terpenoids are precursors to terpenes, which is why the terms have been used interchangeably. Modern research is discovering that terpenes and terpenoids can have a synergistic effect on cannabinoid activity. This means that terpenes may amplify or reduce certain effects for users.
The Entourage Effect
Since the first clinical studies were performed, researchers have known about interactions between terpenes and cannabinoids. For example, some terpenes can enable more cannabinoids to be absorbed into the body by lowering the blood-to-brain barrier.
Because terpenes have medicinal applications, the entourage effect is the combination of chemical compounds working together to create effects unique to each strain. Although extraction processes (such as BHO and CO² extraction) and combustion can degrade certain terpenes, scientific research can help growers produce strains that can aid with different medical conditions.
List Of Terpenes In Cannabis
Terpenes can alter the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD by either enhancing the potent effects or dampening some negative effects. Some terpenes exhibit anti-anxiety characteristics, which can reduce the negative side effects of THC like paranoia and anxiety. Here’s a brief list of terpenes that are commonly found in cannabis.
Myrcene features a strong earthy and fruity scent that can be found in mangoes, thyme, lemongrass, and hops. Myrcene is also the most common terpene found across cannabis strains. In terms of benefits, myrcene is a known anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibiotic, and sedative compound.
Pinene is the most commonly found terpene in plants including pine needles, rosemary, dill, and basil. Pinene has been shown to curb THC-induced short-term memory loss, increase concentration, as well as open up the lung airways. Pinene has been used as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent in many cultures throughout history.
Limonene’s scent is hard to miss. Aromas of lemons, oranges, and other citrus varieties appear in cannabis strains that have the limonene terpene. Because of its pleasant citrus scent, limonene is used in multiple industrial cleaning products and fragrances. Limonene has been shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-anxiety properties.
Expect notes of pepper and spice when dealing with a high-caryophyllene marijuana strain. Found in black pepper, cloves, oregano, and cinnamon, caryophyllene has multiple therapeutic effects. Caryophyllene can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as having anti-inflammatory effects.
Linalool has fragrant floral and spicy scents, which can be found in coriander and lavender. Linalool has significant anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and immune-boosting effects. Other studies have shown that linalool can be an aid in pain relief.
Flavonoids and Terpenes
Unlike terpenes and terpenoids, flavonoids give plants like fruit and vegetables their vibrant colors. In cannabis flower, flavonoids produce an array of colors including red, blue, purple, and more. Of the over 6,000 different types of flavonoids, 20 of them have been found in cannabis. Many of these flavonoids have been known to have antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory characteristics. More research needs to be done to determine their specific interaction with cannabinoids and terpenes in the human body.
How To Get Most Out Of Your Terpenes
Whether you’re dabbing or smoking, it’s important to consider the different boiling points of terpenes and cannabinoids. Terpenes start to degrade at different high temperatures, and temperature controls on a vaporizer or eNail can help you to activate the desired terpenes in a cannabis strain. For dabbing, nails made of quartz or ceramic can be great heat conductors without imparting any flavor to the original extract.
High-terpene full-spectrum extracts (HTFSE) may be a mouthful of an acronym, but provide more than enough terpenes for an out-of-this-world flavor. Terp sugar, also referred to as terp sauce, is a mixture of THCa crystals and cannabis-derived terpenes. Terp sauce is a type of HTFSE that has THCa levels 90% and above and up to 20% terpenes. To get the most out of terpenes when dabbing, use terp pearls made of high-quality quartz paired with a directional airflow carb cap to evenly heat bangers and get a smoother and more flavorful draw.
With so many potential benefits, terpenes are one of the most sought-after chemical compounds found in cannabis. Terpenes can be found in different concentrations across many cannabis strains and extracts. Some extracts may contain fewer terpenes than others. While terpenes exhibit many potential health benefits, there is still more to be uncovered in creating strains that target certain disorders.