As mentioned in Understanding Cannabis Part 1, cannabis plants are varied and have many different effects, depending on the strain. As new strains are cross-bred and older strains fade out of popularity, it can be difficult to predict what effects a plant will have. Additionally, the conditions a plant is grown in can have a major impact on its effects not to mention your own body chemistry. Thus, many cannabis consumers and industry professionals alike have begun looking toward cannabis terpenes to determine how a strain may function.
Terpenes are oils that are secreted from the same glands as THC and CBD. Although terpenes are found in cannabis, they are actually compounds found in many plants, and even some animals. These oils tend to have strong scents, and in the cannabis industry, are often inspiration for a strain’s name. There are more than 20,000 terpenes, but cannabis does not contain all of them. Instead, there are a few that cannabis connoisseurs will recognize in many varieties of the plant.
Myrcene is a terpene that is also found in mangoes, hops, and lemongrass. It is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. Its scent is similar to an earthy, spicy smell.
Limonene is a terpene that, as the name suggests, is found in lemons and other citrus fruits. Thus, it will smell much like a citrus fruit would.
Caryophyllene can be found in black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. It also has a spicy, earthy smell that is similar to those spices.
Terpinolene is also found in tea tree, cumin, and lilacs. It has a pine, floral, and herbal scent.
Pinene is commonly found in rosemary, pine needles, and basil. It has a strong pine smell.
Although these are some of the most common terpenes, it can be beneficial to cannabis professionals and consumers to do their research on other terpenes, particularly in strains they prefer. There are over 100 terpenes present in cannabis, so begin with the ones you are most familiar with and go from there. Each person has different preferences when it comes to strains and subsequently terpenes. Identify the strains you like, then identify the dominant terpenes in those strains. You will begin to see some overlap and from there you can start pinpointing the terpenes you prefer. Once you know the terpenes you prefer, use that to identify new strains to try. The same can be done with strains you don’t like. A great place to research strains and their terpene profiles is leafly.com.
The reason why terpenes are so important is because of the entourage effect. Different terpenes, in conjunction with cannabinoids, may produce different effects. For example, strains high in Myrcene may produce relaxing effects, while Terpinolene might cause energizing effects. However, strains with both may favor one over the other. Additionally, strains may have several terpenes present, which means that the percentages of each will make a big difference in the effects.
Although there is still more research to be done on the effects of terpenes and just how much of a role the entourage effect plays into a strain’s outcome, it is safe to say that learning about terpenes will benefit anyone involved with cannabis. Do your research to fully understand what to expect from different terpenes, and keep in mind that these compounds can affect some people in ways that do not fit the average.
To dig a little deeper into the dominant terpenes in cannabis and their effects, please check out this article.