Who out there loves the smell of cannabis? I sure do. Some do not care for it, but others who enjoy using cannabis enjoy that nice aroma when the bag/jar is opened. And what about those flavors? Some strains of cannabis have the most unique yet interesting flavors. You can taste sweet, bitter, earthy, lemony, and all sorts. Really, it’s up to you how you want your cannabis to taste and smell. But what causes this? Why does cannabis have these delicious flavors and pungent aromas? That is entirely the works of something called a terpene, which we will discuss fully in this post.
To give you a short summary, terpenes are what make cannabis smell and taste the way that it does. These terpenes are found naturally in cannabis, as well as many other plant species. There are hundreds of different types of terpenes, the most common one being myrcene. But there is much more to just this than you may expect, and you’ll only have to read this whole post to figure that out.
What Is A Terpene?
Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons that are found in many plant species. They were originally developed (through evolution) in these plants to both scare off potential predators and also attract pollinators. By doing this, terpenes gave off certain aromas. Also, if eaten, these plants with terpenes would give off certain flavors. Different terpenes can give off different aromas and flavors. In fact, there are hundreds of known terpenes found in plants. Many different factors influence which terpenes will be in which plants, including: weather, climate, maturation, soil type, fertilizers, and the time of day. In cannabis alone, over one hundred terpenes have been discovered.
When it comes to cannabis, terpenes were developed for the same reasons. These terpenes eventually gave cannabis not only its very pungent aromas, but also its unique flavors. Cannabis naturally has high levels of terpenes. This high levels make the smells and tastes of cannabis especially noticeable. have you ever heard someone say “that smells like a skunk” when they are near cannabis? They are actually referring to terpenes, and not an actual skunk (but you may need to check your surroundings if necessary).
While terpenes are greatly found in cannabis, they are also found in other parts of your life (that you may not know about). Do you use essential oils? These oils actually use high levels of terpenes to give off various effects, such as feeling uplifted. Another example of terpenes are pine trees. Have you ever walked past some pine trees, gave them a good smell and suddenly felt slightly uplifted? This is due to the terpene known as pinene, which is most commonly found in pine needles, and even cannabis! Lemons also give off a similar uplifting effect when the aroma is sniffed. Lemons contain limonene, and this terpene is common in cannabis as well.
Besides delivering aromas and flavors, terpenes may also enhance your high. Now, this does depend on the terpene being used. Some may increase the effects of THC, while others are known to decrease those effects (similarly to CBD). Myrcene, one of the most common terpenes in cannabis, has been found to increase THC’s effects. On the other hand, limonene may potentially decrease these psychoactive effects. You can use this to your advantage, as we will discuss below, by bringing THC levels up or down when you consume.
Finally, recent research done on terpenes have discovered that they might offer some medical benefits. Some of these benefits found in certain cannabis strains may be the cause of active terpenes. Overall, most terpenes have been found to either treat one of two conditions: pain or inflammation. Other conditions that may be treated by certain terpenes are:
- fungal and bacterial infections
Going back to essential oils, many of them also offer healing benefits. These healing benefits may claim to heal one of the conditions listed above. If so, that is probably the works of active terpenes in those oils. These same active terpenes are present in cannabis, allowing medical marijuana patients to reap these benefits without the need to purchase essential oils.
Different Terpenes, Different Strains
So are all terpenes found in every cannabis strain? The answer to that is no, not even close. Some cannabis strains may even have little to no active terpenes. However, the majority of strains do, and which terpenes are present in those strains makes all the difference.
Certain terpenes have been found to work better with either indica or sativa strains, depending on the terpene. For example, myrcene has been found to promote indica effects, including relaxation and stress-relief. Another terpene, called terpinolene, can promote sativa effects, such as focus and sharpness.
Some cannabis cultivators use terpenes to determine how a strain will turn out. New strain creations take terpenes into consideration when discussing effects. But how does this all work for you? How will you know when myrcene is present in your cannabis strain, and limonene is not? Luckily, there are some ways you can use terpenes to your advantage.
How To Use Terpenes To Your Advantage
Using terpenes to your advantage may benefit you for a number of reasons. You can use terpenes to increase the effects of THC and get an even stronger high. You can also use terpenes to decrease the effects of THC if it seems too potent for you. Terpenes can also be used to offer many medical benefits, as explained above. Or, you can use terpenes to enhance the indica or sativa effects in a strain. The choice is all yours, and it really depends on why you use cannabis in the first place.
Okay, so you know why you would want to use terpenes, but how can you do this? Not everyone has a laboratory at home that they can use to microscopically see chemical compounds in marijuana. So what will you do? There are ways you can go about it, two mainly.
The first way to go about it is to do your research. If you cultivate or purchase a strain, look it up online and see which terpenes are active in that strain. You can use this information to choose new strains to grow or buy. Simply type in your strain into a search engine, such as Google, and follow it with “terpenes”. You should get a list of websites that offer this information. Doing this will help you make your decision on terpenes.
The other way of figuring out terpenes is by checking labels. As more and more research is done on terpenes, many cannabis dispensaries have begun to include terpenes on the labels of strains. If your local dispensary does this, you can view them when purchasing some bud. You can also ask the budtender what they know about terpenes and if they can tell you which are in their cannabis strains. In the picture above, you can see the back of an OG Purp oil cartridge packaging, with the terpene count included. Look out for these labels when buying cannabis: oil or buds.
When someone purchases cannabis, they usually will smell it before they buy it. The stronger the smell, the better the buy, as many stoners say. Did you know that when you are judging a strain by its smell, you are actually judging it by its terpene level? Also, your body may influence you to choose a certain strain based on the smell of it, because the terpenes are making you feel slightly uplifted without you even knowing it.
That’s all for terpenes! What did you think about them? Maybe it’s better to just not focus on them and appreciate the cannabis that you already get. Or, start paying attention to them and you may experience better results. Thanks for reading!