Organic compounds that provide aroma and flavor in cannabis and a variety of other organisms, including plants. Terpenes are responsible for the aroma and flavors of cannabis, and influence its effects by interacting with cannabinoids. Terpenes are formed inside cannabis trichomes, and their relative presence is directly affected by both the spectrum and intensity of light exposure.
Scientifically speaking, terpenes are defined as “a large class of hydrocarbon compounds constructed from five-carbon isoprene units that are combined to produce a great variety of skeletons.” These basic molecular “skeletons” are “then acted upon by various enzymes to add functionality and altered oxidation,” processes that ultimately lead to the wide variety of effects produced by terpenes.
Currently, there are at least 20,000 different terpenes in existence and the cannabis plant has more than 100 of these terpenes. Many terpenes that are produced by the cannabis plant are also found elsewhere in nature. However, there are a couple of terpenes that are in high concentrations in cannabis plants.
Here are the ones to know in regards to cannabis:
Myrcene, which can also be found in mangoes, is the primary terpene found in cannabis plants. In fact, some plants can have up to 65 percent of their terpene profile made up by myrcene alone. The presence of myrcene often determines whether a specific strain can be considered an indica or sativa. Plants with more than 0.5 percent myrcene are said to be indica. Myrcene is responsible for giving marijuana its distinctive aroma. Myrcene has relaxing properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Strains that are high in myrcene are Skunk XL, White Widow, and Special Kush.
The second most abundant terpene found in cannabis, limonene can also be found in various citrus fruits and is responsible for the citrusy smell. However, it may not be present in all cannabis strains. Limonene has powerful anti fungal and antibacterial properties, and its great smell means that it is a common additive in household cleaning and cosmetic products. Limonene can also help to bust stress and enhance mood. Strains high in Limonene include Sour Diesel and OG Kush as well as Super Lemon Haze.
This terpene’s name says it all, really. Pinene is found most abundantly in the pine tree and is what gives pine needles its distinctive smell. Found in two varieties, alpha, which is responsible for that wonderful pine aroma, and beta, which has a scent like rosemary, dill, or parsley. Pinene is a strong bronchodilator, but also has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects that have been used for centuries in herbal medicines. Pinene can be found in strains like Strawberry Cough and Blue Dream.
If you’ve ever used lavender for its relaxant effects, then you’re familiar with the terpene linalool. Linalool is widely known for the stress-relieving, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant effects. Linalool can help to balance out the anxious side effect sometimes produced by THC and this makes it an ideal terpene for the treatment of anxiety. Linalool is present in strains like Special Kush, Amnesia Haze, and OG Shark.
This terpene, which has a spicy, woody, peppery scent, is also found in black pepper and cinnamon. Studies indicate that this one small terpene is capable of performing the big job of treating anxiety, depression, and inflammation. Caryophyllene is found in such strains as Super Silver Haze, Skywalker, and Rock Star.
While many other strains help to increase appetite, which is beneficial to those who have conditions which nausea and loss of appetite are a factor, strains that contain humulene may actually help to decrease appetite. Found in hops, cloves, and basil, humulene has also shown anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in research. Strains which contain humulene include Liberty Haze, Girl Scout Cookies, and Sour Diesel.
As said, cannabis contains some 100 known terpenes, all of which produce their own effects. Combined with the cannabinoids and other terpenes, the future of cannabis may just be in the cultivation of strains rich in certain terpenes and cannabinoids to create strains tailored to produce certain effects.
Terpenes and cannabinoids are two compounds found in cannabis that when used together help produce a synergistic effect. Selecting strains based upon the terpenes’ effects can help you to achieve the result you desire.