Why Does Cannabis Have Those Delicious & Distinct Aromas?
With so many combinations, the scent of cannabis is more than just the sum of its parts.
A plant that smells like diesel fuel? Or skunk? In my high school years, if it smelled like fuel, then the package leaked in the truck gas tank that smuggled it.You couldn’t give that stuff away. Today, some of the most popular strains have aromas of cheese, feet, and more. Many people new to cannabis wonder how each strain gets its unique, and sometimes mind-boggling aroma. Furthermore, why would you want it when it smells like that?
What causes pot to smell?
One of the many reasons that cannabis is such a versatile plant when it comes to helping humanity is its amazing ability to create many, many strains, each with unique smell profiles. The cannabis plant has an aroma profile larger than any other plant on the planet, but cannabinoids, the molecules that cause the “high” and other beneficial effects have no odor The secret to this is a group of molecules known as terpenoids.
Terpenoids, or terpenes, are aromatic molecular compounds that comprise the building blocks of smells. These molecules evaporate easily, giving off smells even at room temperatures, and are secreted in the same glands as THC. Unlike cannabinoids, terpenes are prevalent throughout the plant kingdom. Produced by countless plant species, terpenes are found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and other botanicals. Terpenes are also common ingredients in the human diet and have generally been recognized as safe to consume by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The homeotherapy tomes are rich with the reputed benefits of essential oils. Marketing movements sweeping the world such as doTERRA have encyclopedic lists of ailments and the oils that can help with them. The science behind the excitement is that the oils cause reactions within our bodies, and different combinations of oils can cause focused effects in our systems, known as the entourage effect. The fact is that for many people, it works. It isn’t surprising if you realize that our sense of smell is tied to memory, appetite, and our pheromone systems among many others. Science have identified over 20,000 terpenes. There are around 200 different ones in cannabis alone. It has been shown that terpenes can bind to receptors, modifying how those receptors uptake or release other chemicals. A September 2011 report by Dr. Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology discussed the wide-ranging therapeutic attributes of terpenoids, which are typically lacking in “CBD-only” products. If you believe in essential oils, you should start to believe in cannabis too.
Top cannabis terpenes
Here are just a few of the many, many beneficial aromatic terpenes found in cannabis.
- Alpha-Pinene – A fresh piney scent, it acts as a bronchodilator, helping asthma sufferers, and anti-inflammatory. Constitutes a major portion of the typical weed smell.
- Myrcene – Think mangoes, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and hops. It has anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, and uniquely lowers the blood-brain barrier resistance, which is why eating mangoes will increase your high. strains that produce “couch-lock” have higher amounts of Myrcene, while strains with lower amounts give energy.
- Beta-Caryophyllene – The reason eating veggies is so healthy, it gives a rich spicy odor, like raw spinach, cloves, and black pepper. It has an affinity for the CB2 receptor, and carries antiseptic, anti-bacterial, antifungal, antitumor and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Linalool – The origin of lavender’s relaxing aroma, it is also found in rosewood, birch, coriander, and laurels, to name a few. Linalool is a critical precursor in the formation of Vitamin E. It has been used in the treatment of both psychosis and anxiety, as an anti-epileptic and analgesic. It is also an effective insecticide.
- D-Limonene – Strong citrus odor with bitter taste, it is best known for being in lemons. Treats gastric reflux, and is a potent antifungal that can permeate protein barriers, which is why it is used on nail fungus. Increases absorption of other molecules through the skin. Also an effective anti-tumor agent with immunostimulant properties.
- Humulene – The reason hops is hoppy, it is also found in some corianders. It has anti-tumor, antibacterial, and appetite suppressing effects.
- Nerolidol – Gives woody and fresh bark aromas, and is also found in ginger and citronella. It has anti fungal, anti-leishmaniasis, and anti-malarial properties.
- Bisabolene – A wonderland of anti-cancer, anti-tumor, leukemia-killing, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, and chemo-enhancing properties, this is also found in tumeric.
Cannabis’s signature aroma
Again, this is just a small section of all the terpenes found in cannabis, giving it so many signature aroma possibilities. With so many combinations, the scent of cannabis is more than just the sum of its parts. This is the aspirations of perfume makers, mixing components to create enthralling signature smells that dazzle the senses. Perhaps in the future, we will see more scents designed from studying and mimicking cannabis.
Do you have a strain with a smell that you can’t get enough of? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.