What the Heck are Cannabis Terpenes?

You’ve heard plenty about cannabinoids, right? But what about terpenes?

Terpenes are another one of the chemical components of cannabis. These aren’t just found in marijuana but many different plants and even in some insects. In fact, terpenes are what give us sensory feedback in the way of smells. So how is this important when it comes to marijuana?

Well, there’s a thing called the “entourage effect” when it comes to the interplay between healing cannabinoids and terpenes. They are designed in nature to work together as a partnership. So, you can still get effects from individual cannabinoid components such as THC or CBD, but researchers are finding that utilizing the whole plant may be the most beneficial use.

Terpenes have the ability to amplify or downplay the effects of cannabinoids. This explains why two products of similar strains can have very different aromas and effects. When it comes to cannabis, those terpenes can have a profound effect on your overall experience. Some cannabis producers are even focusing on terpenes and blends to enhance their products’ effectiveness.

There are over 20,000 terpenes found in nature with cannabis having about 100 of them. But there are some that are in high concentrations in cannabis.

  • Myrcene -- this is the terpene that is found in the highest concentration in cannabis. Some strains are almost completely made up of myrcene. This terpene most often is the determining factor behind whether a strain is an Indica or a Sativa. Low myrcene (less than 0.5 percent) will be Indica. Myrcene has a relaxing effect.
  • Limonene -- the second-highest concentration terpene in cannabis is limonene which is also found in citrus fruits. Although not found in all strains, it has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Limonene helps to counteract stress while enhancing mood.
  • Pinene -- Pinene is commonly found in pine trees giving them their distinctive aroma. This is further broken down into alpha and beta. Alpha has a stronger pine scent whereas beta smells more like an herb like rosemary or parsley. Pinene has the ability to widen breathing airways, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries in medications.
  • Linalool -- linalool is what gives lavender it’s relaxation attributes and is known for relieving stress, combating anxiety and has antidepressant attributes.
  • Caryophyllene -- this terpene has a spicy, peppery aroma and is also found in pepper and cinnamon. It helps with anxiety, depression and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Humulene -- although many cannabis strains have been known to increase appetite, those that have a high amount of humulene have been shown to help decrease appetite.

These are only some of the terpenes found in our current cannabis strains. The future of cannabis may just rest as much on terpenes as cannabinoids with the future of cultivation of certain hybrid strains for particular effects. That being said, terpenes are sensitive to carbonization with each one having its own temperature threshold. Consequently, getting the full effect of a specific terpene may be limited when smoking.

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