Totally Terpenes: What They Are and Why They Are Important
July 12, 2021
If you’ve ever been to a pine tree forest, the smell tends to follow you home. That iconic pine smell comes from a chemical called Pinene, a Terpene. Terpenes are found in any strong smelling plant, and help ward off predators and attract pollinators. Cannabis is one such strong smelling plant, and it’s famous smell comes from those terpenes. Over 100 individual terpenes have been identified in Cannabis, and the “blend” of these terpenes is what makes one strain of Cannabis different from another. So, whether it's the peppery, citrus filled smell of San Fernando Valley OG (SFV OG), or the sharp, “bad cheese” smell of a Gorilla Glue, you can follow your nose to identify these blends.
While not as famous as its counterpart, Terpenes are produced inside of the trichomes on the bud, alongside the THCa. Once the plant is consumed through smoking, vaping, or eating, the Terpenes and the THCa cause something called the entourage effect. This effect “enhances” the experience by augmenting the effects that THCa already gives. This gives the strains their differences in effects, smells, and the type of relief that each strain of Cannabis will achieve. This includes both terpenes and Cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG. One medicinal product that capitalizes on this effect here in Missouri is Proper Cannabis’ Ratio cartridges, which leverage both CBD and THC to give an optimal medical dose in varying ratios of both cannabinoids.
Since the Agricultural Act of 2014, over 100 terpenes have been identified in Cannabis with modern science, and many strains display entirely different terpenes than others. While there is still much to be studied, science has identified the primary Terpenes in Cannabis Sativa and Indica:
Myrcene - By far the most common terpene in Cannabis, Myrcene is responsible for a heavy musky smell that smells almost sour, with small hints of citrus. It gives a sedating, pain relieving effect, perfect for a relaxing night.
Limonene - The strongest Citrus terpene, Limonene is responsible for the pungent orange and lemon smells some Cannabis can have. It has anti-bacterial, as well as uplifting and stress relieving properties. Illicit Cannabis’ SFV OG is a great example of a strain heavy in Myrcene, as it has heavy notes of citrus and provides an uplifting, warm feeling.
Beta-Caryophyllene - With heavy scents of pepper and cinnamon, Beta-Caryophyllene is one of the easiest to smell. It gives anti-inflammatory effects, and is one of the best terpenes for patients needing a pain relief substitute.
Linalool - Lavender is the trademark smell of Linalool. While it is mildly sedating, linalool is prized for its relaxing, aromatherapy effects and it’s strong anti-anxiety properties.
Terpinolene - Typically found in smaller concentrations in Cannabis,Terpinolene is found in almost every oil producing plant. It has a slight fruity texture, with hints of fresh tea and nutmeg. In high concentrations, it produces an uplifting, yet soothing effect.
Pinene - As described above, Pinene has that rich aroma of a grove of pine trees mixed with hints of an earthy, forest-like smell. With strong relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties, Pinene is a good choice for patients in need of pain relief.
While researchers have done a lot to identify terpenes and their uses, an uphill battle still remains. Judith Booth, a Canadian biochemistry professor and Senior Energy Advisor for Yukon province, stated that “Despite being the foundation of a multi-billion dollar global industry, scientific knowledge and research on cannabis is lagging behind compared to other high-value crops. This is largely due to legal restrictions that have prevented many researchers from studying cannabis, its products, and their effects in humans.”
Due to the work of researchers and activists like Judith, we know more about Cannabis and Terpenes than ever before. Whether it is to find your favorite strain, or to find the correct medical effects for you, Terpenes are the cutting edge with medical cannabis.
This peice written by our incredibly talented Budtender, Sean Keast.