Terpenes, otherwise known as terps, are an essential element of the cannabis experience. Yet for something so essential, few people know about terpenes and its role in giving a strain its uniquely delicious, danky aroma.
There’s a lot more to terpenes and understanding them will only enhance your experience – not to mention making it easier to identify strains you like, but more on that later. Read on to get a foundational understanding on the power of terpenes and how you can harness that power for an elevated experience with Eighty Six.
What are Terpenes?
Believe it or not, we interact with terpenes daily – sometimes without even noticing. Terpenes, also called isoprenoids, are the largest and most diverse group of naturally occurring compounds found in plants. Terpenes are found in nearly every plant category ranging from herbs and trees to flowers and fruit. Terpenes are responsible for the aroma, flavor, and pigment of plants with some of the most well-known terps found in tea, cannabis, Spanish sage, thyme, and citrus fruits.
Scientists have identified more than 20,000 different terpenes found across all known plant species. Cannabis and hemp strains are especially abundant in terpenes, with over 150 unique offerings found within.
Who Do Terpenes Do?
Terpenes play a special role in the psychoactive experience. Terps are what is called bioactive, meaning they cause changes in our body or biology though these changes vary depending on the terpene. Studies on chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, mood, and cancer therapy have found terpenes to have impressive therapeutic benefits. Terpenes can affect many parts of our body from our mood to our sensory perception, but these effects can change depending on what you are consuming.
Both cannabis and hemp are known to contain some 150 different terpenes, with the most common being myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, pinene, terpineol, and linalool.
Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in both cannabis and hemp but is also found in thyme, mango, lemongrass, and in many essential oil blends. It has a clove-like smell with citrusy and minty notes. You can expect to experience an increase in muscular relaxation, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and an increase in sedation.
Limonene is found abundantly in fruit, particular citrus fruits and in cannabis- and hemp-derived resin. It has inherent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-carcinogenic properties matched with a potent citrusy aroma and flavor.
Besides cannabis and hemp, caryophyllene is a prolific terpene often found in cloves, black pepper, and cotton. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is matched with a sweet, woody, dry aroma finished with a spicy sheen.
As the name suggests, pinene is found abundantly in pine trees and has a wide variety of expressions, including a skunky variety whose aroma matches the infamous animal. From a therapeutic perspective, pinene is often used as an expectorant and applied topically as an anti-septic. Upon consumption, you may experience an increase in focus, self-satisfaction, and energy.
Terpineol has an especially pleasant aroma with notes of citrus, lilac, and lime, making it a popular ingredient in several perfumes, soaps, and essential oils. It can reduce mobility by up to 45% in some tests, likely making it at least partially responsible for the feelings related to couch lock often found in indica strains, such as the Grape Soda Delta-8 THC 2G Disposable or the PRPL Haze Live Rosin 2G Disposable.
Linalool possesses a spicy and floral aroma and is currently being tested as a cancer treatment in industrial candy making. High doses can be damaging to the liver, but only small amounts are present in cannabis and hemp strains.
Terpenes in Cannabis & Hemp
When it comes to cannabis and hemp, terpenes play a much larger role than we previously thought. Cannabis researcher, Christopher Pauli describes the relationship between cannabis and terpenes: “If you think of cannabis like a car, terpenes are the steering wheel, THC is the gas and CBD are the brakes.” He goes onto explain that terpenes guide the effects we experience when we consume, and they’re a huge part of what helps define the differences between indica and sativa strains.
Terpenes are a large part of why certain strains make us feel better than other and identifying the terps in strains that make you feel the best can help you find strains that suit your preferences. For example, if you discover that limonene doesn’t make you feel so great, it would be wise to avoid most strains with citrus or limonene aromas. Similarly, if you find that skunkier terp profiles provide the effects you like then you should seek out other strains with skunky terpenes.
We all like to smell our cannabis, but if you know what to smell for, your nose can be a powerful tool in helping to navigate the thousands of strains on the market.
Including terpenes, there are over 500 bioactive compounds in both cannabis and hemp, and not only are these compounds powerful on its own, putting them together in tandem supercharges its effect. These compounds aren’t present in highly refined products such as distillate, which is why the experience of smoking weed can feel so much powerful than using a disposable vape.
Despite all we know, terpene interactions and the consequential effects on brain function is a broad topic that requires a lot more research before it is fully understood. As the hemp industry continues to thrive across the country, we will continue to see a surge into the hidden power terpenes have on our body.