By now, we all have a general idea of what THC and CBD are, and you probably understand the differences between Sativa and Indica strains, but what about terpenes? While they are often talked about, they’re even more misunderstood. Terpenes can enhance the scientific properties of the cannabis plant while providing a more customized cannabis experience. A knowledgeable cannabis connoisseur can leverage terpene profiles to maximize the plant’s benefits while mitigating the negative effects.
Terpenes can be likened to essential oils or spices, they add inherent fragrance and wellness benefits to that which they are added to. They are distinct in taste and smell and can be highly volatile. Unlike spices or essential oils, terpenes are part of the cannabinoid compound, not something that was added. Terpenes are necessary for the plant to grow – cannabinoids at their core are terpenoids.
Below are some of the most common terpenes and how they can be distinguished:
Myrcene: Primary aromatic notes of clove, secondary notes of hops or musk.
- Myrcene makes the blood-brain barrier more permeable to cannabis, or in other words, enhances your experience by allowing for greater saturation of the CB1 receptors.
Pinene: Dominant scent of pine, secondary scent of wood.
- Acts as an expectorant, bronchodilator and antiseptic.
Limonene: Primary aromatic notes of citrus, secondary scent noted as fruity.
- Limonene can aid in the absorption of other terpenes, accentuating the profiles of other terpenes.
- Has a short half-life in the bloodstream due to its high volatility
- Its main function is anti-fungal/anti-bacterial
Beta-caryophyllene: Dominant aromatic noted as “spicy”, secondary scent of black pepper.
- The only terpene that acts directly on the endocannabinoid system
- The CB2 receptors that modulate inflammatory processes can be activated by this terpene
Linalool: Dominant scent of lavender, with secondary floral scents.
- Enhances focus and cognitive clarity
Some minor terpenoids, but still worthy of note are:
Humulene: Dominant scent of sage with secondary notes of hops and coriander
- Humulene is a strong anorectic
Geraniol: Primary scent of rose, secondary scent is flowery or “perfumey”
- Due to its strong scent, it’s often used to overcome other unpleasant terpenes, but for those with allergies to perfume it should be avoided
It is important to note that oils can strip the cannabinoids of their terpenes, so to get most of the benefits, smoking, vaporizing or ingesting are recommended. Additionally, as stated before, terpenes are highly volatile and can lose their properties if heated beyond their specific heating points. To mitigate this, it is recommended you use a low-heat vaporizer.