What gives cannabis the different aromas and flavors? Why are some cannabis strains stronger than the others regardless of THC? Various combination of terpenes (and terpenoids, which are closely related compounds) make each marijuana strain unique. Terpenes are the building blocks of cannabis. Recently, terpenes have gained a lot of traction as we uncover their different effects on the body. Medicine practitioners, marijuana consumers, and scientists have equally started studying terpenes in relevance to medicine, the recreational market, and nutrition.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds found in marijuana and other foods. Cannabis plant contains about 10% to 30% of terpenes which determine the various strains you can grow of buy. In layman terms, are the flavor molecules, since their presence in different concentrations and forms impart unique aroma and taste to different plants. Over 100 varieties of terpenes have been identified so far, each having unique medicinal properties. Contrary to novice belief, not all terpenes are sedative in nature. Some are psychoactive, while others are great for focus or pain management.
Terpenes co-actively interact with various other compounds one of those being cannabinoids. Common cannabinoids found in marijuana plants are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) which determines the plant’s potency. Scientists theorize terpenes play a key role in differentiating the THC and CBD levels.
Why are Terpenes Important?
Terpenes were initially formed in the cannabis to shoo away predators like dangerous insects and pests, and also to attract the pollinating insects through its aroma. Eventually, as the plant evolved, terpenes started serving various functions like slow maturation, better metabolism and attracting pollinating insects to ensure reproduction. Some also help in controlling environmental conditions of the plant like excessive heat or drought condition, etc.
As mentioned above terpenes impart unique aroma and flavor to cannabis plants. In addition, terpenes can cure various diseases in humans too. Terpenes can treat almost any ailment: Depression, breast cancer, skin cancer, osteoporosis, stress, asthma, HIV/AIDS, muscle strain, gallstones. Awareness about the medicinal benefits of Terpenes lately results in great demand and use of Terpenes in various treatment like aromatherapy. Today, you can customize the weed you consume based on your needs and ailments.
When we label a cannabis strain as ‘terpy,’ it means that the weed contains strong and good quality terpenes. Many consumers and marijuana dispensaries hunt for specialty terpenes. Thus, their ultimate goal is growing cannabis with an aim to harness particular flavor and therapeutic characteristics. Environmental factors play a crucial role in determining the terpene content in the plant. Fertilizers used, growing time of the year, growing climatic conditions (heat, drought, or flooding, etc) and also the time of harvest greatly affect the level of terpenes found in buds. Thus, the final product obtained is a culmination of all the factors listed above and more.
If you are interested in terpy products, make sure you find the right dispensary or local grower. Get in touch with growers and sellers who focus on cultivating super terpy flowers.
To enjoy the terpy weeds to the fullest, you need to know the best way to consume it. That’s right, the way you consume the terpy has a major effect on the extent of terpy going in your body. For example, smoking the bud through a bong may provide better results. The filtration from water cools the smoke, resulting in better flavor. Vaporizing is another great method that provides a more discrete taste.
Common Terpene Profiles
- Aroma/Flavor: Earthy and musky blended with a ting of fruity flavor
- Medicinal uses: Insomnia. No one to sleep you to lullaby? Myrcene to your rescue. Its ‘anti’ properties do not stop here. It is anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial and anti-proliferative. Since myrcene is sedative in nature, it also helps to relieve pain and induce muscle relaxation.
- Found in: Parsley, mangoes, hops, and bay.
Delta 3 Carene
- Aroma/Flavor: Piney
- Medicinal uses: It is anti-inflammatory in nature. It has a soothing effect on burning skin. It is also known to dry body fluids. Thus, it has properties to reduce all types of body fluids like running nose, tears, and menstrual flow.
- Found in: Rosemary
- Aroma/Flavor: Sugar and spicy
- Medicinal uses: Cheer up your mood with this terp which is useful in treating depression and stress. Get a clear skin with Linalool as it cleans up acne. Use it to give a soothing effect to your skin through its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known to moderate motor movements. A study reveals it to have properties that cure liver cancer.
- Found in: Mint, cinnamon, flowers and some fungi
- Aroma/Flavor: Citrus
- Medicinal uses: This terp combats various diseases and disorders like cancer, bronchitis, and obesity. Its easy penetration power makes it good for use in skin ointments and medicinal creams.
- Found in: Grapefruit, Pine, and Tangerine
- Aroma/Flavor: Minty and camphor
- Medicinal uses: Borneol possesses anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is also used as an insect repellent. In addtion, borneol helps reduce pain as an analgesic and acts as a bronchodilator. Interestingly, it is also sometimes used in acupuncture practices. This terpene may also help curb your sleepless nights.
- Found in: Camphor, Rosemary, and Mint
- Aroma/Flavor: Floral
- Medicinal uses: Alpha Bisabolol has a natural floral scent, making it beneficial in the use of deodorants and beauty products. Futhermore, it is also used in various cosmetics as it fades hyperpigmentation, reduces wrinkles and moisturizes the skin. Lastly, it also stimulates healing. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can be used on burning skin.
- Found in: German chamomile
- Aroma/Flavor: Spicy, Minty
- Medicinal uses: Get the dopey effect like the koala bears by munching this terp. It is used in mouthwashes, body powder and is also found to act as a cough suppressant. Because of the minty flavor, Eucalyptol is an ideal strain for edibles (especially sweets). Finally, this terpene provides therapeutic effects on gums and skin.
- Found in: Eucalyptus leaves
Future of Terpenes
The mystery of Terpenes is yet to unfold. Researchers have yet to find the full potential of this class of organic compound. However, studies continue, and the medicinal benefits of Terpenes play a significant role in the future of marijuana production and consumption. If you think today’s knowledge of terpenes is so exciting, we’ve barely broken the ice. Get ready to read some amazing news about terps as the research progresses.