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What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do?

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What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do? Cannabis, often referred to as marijuana, is a complex plant known for its various chemical compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes. While cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, have gained significant attention for their psychoactive and therapeutic effects, terpenes are equally important components of the cannabis plant that contribute to its unique properties. In this comprehensive guide, we explain what terpenes are, their effects on the body, their relationship with cannabinoids, and the potential health benefits they offer.

What Are Terpenes?

What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in various plants, including cannabis. These compounds are responsible for the distinctive scents and flavors of different cannabis strains. Terpenes can be thought of as the essential oils of plants and play a significant role in the plant kingdom, serving various ecological functions, such as repelling herbivores and attracting pollinators.

In cannabis, terpenes are found in the trichomes, the tiny, hair-like structures on the surface of the plant. These trichomes contain the highest concentration of terpenes, as well as cannabinoids like THC and CBD. When cannabis is harvested and dried, the trichomes release these volatile compounds, creating the characteristic aroma of cannabis.

Types of Cannabis Terpenes

It’s essential to recognize that there are many terpenes present in the cannabis plant, each contributing to the overall chemical profile and therapeutic potential of different strains. These terpenes can have a wide range of flavors and aromas, offering a diverse palette for cannabis users to explore. 

Here are different types of terpenes found in marijuana:

  • Major Terpenes: These are the most abundant and well-known terpenes in cannabis, such as myrcene, limonene, and pinene, with distinct aroma profiles and therapeutic benefits.
  • Minor Terpenes: These are found in smaller quantities but still contribute to the overall aroma and effects of cannabis. Examples include terpinolene and humulene.
  • Cannabis-Derived Terpenes: Some companies extract terpenes from cannabis plants to create products with specific terpene profiles. These products can be added to various cannabis extracts, concentrates, or edibles to enhance their flavor and effects.
  • Synthetic Terpenes: In addition to naturally occurring terpenes, synthetic terpenes are also available and can be used in cannabis products. However, they lack the potential health benefits associated with natural terpenes.

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Common Terpenes in Cannabis

Cannabis plants contain a wide variety of terpenes, each contributing to the overall aroma, flavor, and effects of different strains. Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis include:

  • Myrcene: Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis and is known for its earthy aroma. It has potential health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory effects, and is also found in other plants like mangoes.
  • Limonene: This terpene offers a citrusy scent and is believed to have stress-relieving properties. It is commonly found in strains like Lemon Haze.
  • Pinene: As the name suggests, pinene is reminiscent of the aroma of pine trees and pine needles. It may have anti-inflammatory and therapeutic effects.
  • Caryophyllene: This terpene has a spicy, herbal scent and is unique among terpenes because it can interact with the endocannabinoid system, potentially providing pain relief.
  • Linalool: Linalool imparts a floral aroma and is known for its sedative effects, making it valuable for stress and anxiety relief.
  • Terpinolene: Terpinolene offers a piney and herbal scent and has potential health benefits, such as antifungal and antioxidant properties.
  • Humulene: This terpene has an earthy aroma and may have anti-inflammatory properties.

These terpenes, along with many others, are found in various combinations in different cannabis strains, contributing to the unique properties and effects of each strain.

Effects of Terpenes

Terpenes play a multifaceted role in shaping the effects of this remarkable herb. From therapeutic properties influencing the medicinal benefits to the emotional and social experiences, the effects of terpenes go far beyond their role as aroma providers, creating a rich tapestry of experiences for cannabis users.

Medicinal Effects 

Terpenes play a crucial role in the medicinal properties of cannabis. These organic compounds contribute to the therapeutic potential of various strains, making them valuable for patients seeking relief from a wide range of medical conditions. For instance, myrcene, a common terpene in cannabis, is associated with potent anti-inflammatory effects, making it a go-to option for individuals dealing with chronic pain or inflammatory disorders.

On the other hand, caryophyllene, another prominent terpene, can interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, potentially offering pain relief and anti-anxiety benefits. Terpenes like limonene and linalool have demonstrated their effectiveness in reducing stress and anxiety, addressing the needs of patients with mental health concerns. These medicinal effects, in combination with cannabinoids, create a holistic approach to cannabis-based treatments.

Social Effects of Terpenes

Terpenes also have significant social effects, as they contribute to the diverse range of cannabis strains, each with its own flavor, aroma, and psychoactive properties. These unique terpene profiles enhance the recreational and social aspects of cannabis consumption. For example, strains rich in limonene and pinene often offer an uplifting and energetic experience, which can be ideal for social gatherings and creative activities.

Terpene profiles high in myrcene and linalool may induce relaxation and a sense of tranquility, making them suitable for unwinding with friends or during intimate moments. The ability to select strains with specific terpene combinations allows users to tailor their social experiences with cannabis to match their desired mood and atmosphere.

Emotional Effects of Terpenes

Terpenes have a profound impact on the emotional state of cannabis users. Each terpene carries its own unique emotional signature, shaping the user’s experience and emotional response. For instance, strains with linalool may promote feelings of calm and contentment, making them valuable for reducing stress and anxiety, and ultimately improving emotional well-being.

Meanwhile, terpenes like myrcene, with their sedative effects, can help users unwind and achieve a sense of relaxation, which is particularly beneficial for individuals seeking emotional balance. The emotional effects of terpenes, when combined with cannabinoids, provide users with a versatile toolkit to manage their emotional states, promoting feelings of happiness, tranquility, and overall emotional wellness.


Terpene Profiles of Popular Strains

To give you a better idea of how terpenes manifest in weed, we have broken down the terpene profiles of some popular strains of cannabis. 

  • Cotton Candy Kush: Myrcene is often dominant in Cotton Candy Kush, contributing to its sedative and relaxing effects, and limonene provides a subtle uplifting quality and adds a citrusy aroma to the strain.
  • Durban Poison: The primary terpene in Durban Poison is terpinolene, it imparts a complex aroma and is associated with creative and uplifting effects. Additionally, alpha-pinene contributes to a piney, earthy scent and may enhance focus and alertness.
  • Moby Dick: Myrcene is found in moderate amounts, offering a calming and pain-relieving effect, and caryophyllene adds a spicy, black pepper aroma and contributes to its potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
  • Sour Diesel: Limonene is a dominant presence, providing Sour Diesel with its energizing and mood-boosting qualities. Whereas, beta-caryophyllene adds a hint of spiciness and potential anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Jack Herer: Jack Herer often has a high pinene content, offering an energizing, clear-headed effect and a distinctive pine aroma. It also contains linalool, which contributes to its subtle calming and mood-enhancing properties.

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