There’s something about the aroma of cannabis that soothes the mind and body. Whether it’s the sweet fruity taste of or that skunky funky smell that bursts from a cracked bud of OG Kush, we know there’s something going on under their complex and flavorful bud bouquets. Terpenes are what you smell and taste and have a dramatic affect on the affect that you actually feel, and knowing what they are will deepen your appreciation of cannabis.
What Are Cannabis Terpenes?
The trichome glands of the cannabis plant secrete teprenes and cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes are aromatic oils that color, flavor and give aroma to cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like earth, skunk, lemon, lime, grapefruit, berry, mint, and pine.
Not unlike other strong-smelling plants and flowers, the development of terpenes in cannabis began for adaptive purposes: to repel predators and lure pollinators. There are many factors that influence a plant’s development of terpenes, including climate, weather, age and maturation, fertilizers, soil type, and even the time of day.
Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and every strain tends toward a unique terpene type and composition. For example, a strain like Cheese and its descendants will likely have a discernible cheese-like smell, and Blueberry offspring will very often inherit the smell of berries.
The diverse palate of cannabis flavors is impressive enough, but arguably the most fascinating characteristic of terpenes is their ability to interact synergistically with other compounds in the plant, like cannabinoids and totally change the effect. You can have 5 strains all 24% THC but all have different terpenes, so the effects can very from couch-lock to wanting to clean your home.
In the past few decades, most cannabis varieties have been bred to contain high levels of THC, and as a result, other cannabinoids like CBD have fallen to just trace amounts. This has led many to believe that terpenes play a key role in differentiating the effects of various cannabis strains. Plus you can test in first hand yourself, get a berry scented 24% and a pine scented 24% bud, role 4 joints, 2 of each strain, smoke it side by side taste the difference, now wait to burn out….. repeat this separately smoke only one J and wait, then wait till next day smoke the other, was each day feeling differently ? PS always do tests as a wake and bake or 1st high, secondary highs are poor judges of feelings as the other strain may still be working for you or against you.
Each individual terpene is associated with unique effects. Some promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others promote focus and acuity. Linalool, for example, is believed to be relaxing whereas limonene elevates mood. The effect profile of any given terpene may change in the presence of other compounds in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. More research is needed to understand each terpene’s effect when used in harmony with others. Their differences can be subtle, but terpenes can add great depth to the connoisseur of cannabis. Most importantly, terpenes may offer additional medical value as they mediate our body’s interaction with therapeutic cannabinoids. Many cannabis analysis labs now test the terpene content every batch, improving knowledge of what effects and flavors a strain might produce. With their unlimited combinations of synergistic effects, terpenes will certainly open up new scientific and medical terrains for cannabis research.