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So what do terpenes in cannabis do?

The unfamiliar word “terpene” should be added to your cannabis vocabulary list – now. There are many aspects of cannabis buds that make them unique – taste and smell are two of the most commonly compared traits. Have you ever wondered why buds of even the same strain can have different tastes and smells? The answer is hidden in terpenes. Let’s take a deeper look at terpenes to understand their role in cannabis flowers.

What are Terpenes?

terpenes chart What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do?
Photo credit: Mich Medical Marijuana Growers Club

Simply, terpenes are the oils that give cannabis plants and flowers their unique smell. Terpenes originate in the same glands of the cannabis plant as THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

Terpenes are not unique to the cannabis plant though. You may recall our article about eating mangoes to increase your high. Just like cannabis, mangoes have heavy doses of myrcene, the terpene responsible for giving a clove-like smell.

Terpenes interact with the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to cannabinoids.  When inhaled or ingested, the terpenes act as an assistant to cannabinoids as they work to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Myrcene, for example, is known to increase cell permeability allowing for faster absorption of THC and other cannabinoids.

Terpenes can also influence neurotransmitters in the brain. For example they can affect dopamine and serotonin production and destruction. This insight gives us an idea of why different strains not only smell and taste different, but also have different affects on our mood or high sensation. Limonene, another common terpene found in cannabis, can increase serotonin production thus elevating your mood.

Common terpenes

There are over 100 known terpenes found in cannabis. Each plant strain tends to have unique terpene compositions; hence different strains have different smells, tastes, and effects.

Myrcene

terpenes lemon grass What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do?
Photo credit: Bonnie Plants

Smell: Musky, cloves, earthy, herbal with notes of citrus and tropical fruit
Effects:  Relaxation, sleepiness, couch lock
Medical Value: Antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic; good for muscle tension, pain, insomnia, depression
Also Found In: Mango, lemongrass, thyme, hops
High Myrcene Cannabis Strains: Pure Kush, White Widdow, Skunk #1

Linalool

terpenes lavendar What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do?

Smell: Floral, citrus, candy, sweet
Effects: Anxiety relief, sedative qualities
Medical Value: Anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, acne treatment
Also Found In: Lavender
High Linalool Cannabis Strains: G13 and LA Confidential

Caryophyllene

terpenes cotton What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do?

Smell: Pepper, spicy, cloves, wood
Effects: Known to increase heart rate
Medical Value: Arthritis, ulcers, autoimmune disorders, general gastrointestinal issues
Also Found In: black pepper, cloves, cotton
High Caryophyllene Cannabis Strains: Hash Plant

Limonene

terpenes rosemary What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do?

Smell: Citrus
Effects: Elevated mood and stress relief
Medical Value: Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, heartburn, depression
Also Found In:  Fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, peppermint
High Limonene Cannabis Strains: OG Kush and Super Lemon Haze

As more people become aware of terpenes and their effects, dispensaries are beginning to cater to customer’s curiosity. Again, terpenes and their effects can vary from harvest to harvest, so you cannot rely on old information when purchasing your cannabis. Next time you head to the dispensary, ask your budtender to discuss the terpenes found in their strains.

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Lane Tr

I am from Pennsylvania where I lived until moving to Denver in 2013. My interest in the cannabis industry is what drew me to Colorado. I am a golfer, FIFA champ, long boarder, dog lover, and a potculture trendsetter. Send me a message with any post ideas or industry news. Thanks for making me the writiest of the righters!
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