What Are Terpenes: The Definitive Guide

What do we think of first when we hear the word weed?

For the majority of people, the first thought would be of that famous buzz. As most of us know this sought after “high” is all down to marijuana’s psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. It is unfortunately also one of the most common misconceptions about the plant. Especially, as there are in fact, so many wonderful things that cannabis brings to the table – one of them being Terpenes.

Often overlooked, Terpenes provide some of the most appreciated attributes to the much-loved plant. In this article we are going to explore, and celebrate the underdog compound of the cannabis plant; Terpenes.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are one of the most recognizable aspects of cannabis, but so few people actually know what they are. We all know and love that distinctive smell that comes from lighting up a joint. Some strains can have us talking for weeks about how delicious and distinctive the flavor was. All of these things are solely down to the Terpenes contained within.

Terpenes are the fragrant oils that can be found in the sticky resin glands of the cannabis plant. They actually originate from the same place as THC, CBD, and other well-known cannabinoids. Without Terpenes, there would be no Sour Diesel, no Blueberry Kush. Nor any other of the well-known delicious strains that have become so popular for their distinctive scent and flavor.

Interestingly, Terpenes are by no means exclusive to the cannabis plant. In fact, they can be found in a whole range of popular foods, and are therefore considered as “safe” for human consumption by the FDA.

What do Terpenes do?

As well as having the ability to deliver a powerful scent and flavor, Terpenes have actually been proven to help medicinally as well! It probably doesn’t come to much of a surprise that there could be yet another helpful compound to this ever-giving plant. And Terpenes while being much less researched compared to THC and CBD, have shown promise in the medical world for their ability to deliver therapeutic attributes.

In the same way as CBD, Terpenes work with our body by binding to the brain’s receptors. This can give rise to a wide range of positive effects, which can differ depending on the specific Terpene content of the strain.

While there are actually over 200 different Terpenes that can be found in the cannabis plant, there are some that appear more frequently than others. Below are some of the most frequent Terpenes, and how you can identify them!

  • Myrcene: This Terpene is most commonly known for its musky, herbal aroma. Myrcene is also brilliant for aiding relaxation and works in perfect harmony with THC to increase those pleasant psychoactive effects. Myrcene can also be found in foods such as mango, citrus fruits, and thyme!
  • Linalool: Known for its spicy floral scent, Linalool is responsible for calming and causing sedating effects, which in turn is fantastic for treating insomnia, anxiety, and stress.
  • Caryophyllene: Earthy and peppery, this Terpene comes with no specific physical effects, however, is used for its fantastic anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to relieve muscle spasms.
  • Pinene: Sweet and piney, this Terpene is brilliant for aiding memory and promotes alertness. Pinene has been known to help in the treatment of asthma and is also an anti-inflammatory.
  • Limonene: Fruity and citrusy, Limonene is a well-known mood booster and is therefore brilliant for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
  • Humulene: This earthy Terpene is often used to aid weight-loss as it is an appetite suppressant. Humulene is also said to have anti-bacterial properties and the ability to treat pain!

It is also important to note that while Terpenes offer many beneficial properties to us, humans, they also provide a vital role for the cannabis plant itself. Terpenes provide a natural protection for the cannabis plant during its growing process! Helping the plant fight off bacteria, bugs, and other potential environmental stresses!

Which Terpene is Right For You?

If you have done your homework, you know that different Terpenes come with different benefits. So, when choosing a strain of marijuana based on its Terpene content, there are a few things to consider.

Be aware, it is difficult to really know the precise properties of a strain, and Terpene profiles can be incredibly difficult to determine. Depending on how the plant has been grown and then cured, will make a big difference on the level of Terpenes contained in it.

Secondly, be mindful that Terpenes will lose a lot of their medicinal qualities when burnt to a temperature that is too high. So, consider your method of consumption. Going for a reduced heat method is likely to improve your experience!

The Entourage Effect

The Entourage Effect is important to mention when discussing Terpenes, as it encourages us to consider the plant as a whole. We know that THC gets you high. We also know that CBD in conjunction with THC can reduce this high. So, what would happen if we combined even more parts of the cannabis plant?

A study done by Dr. Ethan B Russo showed that when we combine all the natural aspects of the cannabis plant, the positive effects are much stronger than when we isolate a specific cannabinoid. His idea that the helpful cannabinoids are much more effective when combined with the other elements of the plant show a great deal of promise for the future of Terpenes!

Final Thoughts

While so much focus remains to be centered around THC and CBD, there are other important cannabinoids and terpenes that are being overlooked. While research is still lacking in areas, it is clear that the use of terpenes can really enhance the benefits of the plant’s cannabinoids.

With time and further research, we hope that terpenes can become more well-known for their incredible abilities to benefit us, and not simply for their specific taste and smell.

The idea that terpenes along with other constituents of the cannabis plant can work harmoniously together is very exciting for the future of the industry!