What are terpenes? – there are over a hundred different compounds that are found inside the cannabis plant including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and omega fatty acids and terpenes make up just one part of an ever growing collection.
Aside from all these compounds, there is also something about the aroma and flavor of cannabis that gives it its distinctive characteristics. Whether you buy weed online at an online dispensary Canada or in a store , you might have already guessed what it is
Similar to your champagnes, natural wines, and craft beers, cannabis strains can also be classified based on their quality, types of flavors, and different aromas. All of which are gained from the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes.
So what is a terpene? Keep on reading and we’ll give you the rundown on all the basics of terpenes and their role in the world of cannabis.
Whether its an indica vs sativa strain, terpenes are the compounds that give cannabis its distinctive aroma and earthy flavor. Terpenes are short isoprene chains that are considered the building blocks to the essential oils of many plants.
Interestingly enough, terpenes are not exclusive to the cannabis plant as you’ll also find them in citrus fruits like lemons and orange, as well as herbs like rosemary, and pepper.
While a large portion of terpenes is found in plants, some of them are actually found in animals as well, think squalene (a popular skincare ingredient) and lanosterol (used in eye drops to dissolve cataracts).
A fun fact is that many manufacturers utilize terpenes to create scented body washes, soaps, and even fragrances. Sometimes, cannabis manufacturers will even use terpenes to flavour cannabis products such as distillate cartridges and tinctures.
Since plants are sedentary by nature, movement is not an option to evade potential predators. This is where terpenes come into play. In many plants in nature, like flowers, herb, and fruit, each plant’s natural scent comes from the terpenes within it.
But terpenes aren’t only for making things smell great, plants actually use terpenes as the first line of defense to ward off potential predators like insects or foraging animals.
In some cases, terpenes can also play a vital role in attracting pollinators for plants as well.
Many people tend to interchangeably use terpenoids for terpenes when it is in fact incorrect. When referring to the terpenes of a plant, a terpene is considered a compound to the live plant, therefore when the plant eventually expires or dries the terpenes oxidize and in return, are converted to terpenoids.
Terpenes and Cannabis
As you probably have already guessed, cannabis is also loaded with compounds, and terpenes are no exception.
While there aren’t necessarily any terpenes that are exclusive to the cannabis plant, the plant is able to produce a wide variety of compounds, allowing for a vast array of different combinations to come to life.
Thanks to the nearly limitless combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes, you’ll probably never have a shortage of options when it comes to variety in the world of cannabis.
When it comes to the terpenes found in cannabis plants, there are two main types: Monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. Out of the two, monoterpenes like myrcene are usually the most common, while sesquiterpenes like β-caryophyllene and α-humulene are close behind.
Blue Dream is one such strain that’s high in myrcene, the chief terpene behind the classic “couch lock” effect that is so common with strong indica-dominant strains.
These three particular terpenes are also highly common in cannabis as you’ll be sure to find them in nearly every single strain you come across.
Examples of these terpenes that help shape the scent of cannabis include monoterpenes such as α-pinene (gives cannabis a pine smell), limonene (think of citrus types of aromas), and linalool (responsible for lavender’s relaxing scent).
Of all the terpenes in the cannabis plant, there is a particular one that stands out: Beta-caryophyllene.
While Beta-caryophyllene is also a common terpene found in many other plants like black pepper, its ability to manipulate cannabinoids and interact with them makes it stand out far more than the others in the mix.
Another terpene of interest is Humulene, which is also found in hops. Humulene is known for its anti-inflammatory effects while also giving hops its subtle earthy aroma with hints of woody and spicy notes.
Limonene on the other hand is mainly found in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, giving them their distinct citrusy fresh aroma. Wedding Cake, a popular a hybrid, is one such strain that is abundant in Limonene.
Where are Cannabis Terpenes Located?
Along with your cannabinoids, terpenes can be found throughout the resinous areas (trichomes) of the cannabis plant.
The trichomes and resin glands that are located at the tip with terpenes are also located throughout the flower and leaves of the plant, but in lesser quantities. They’re also the source for cannabis bud’s kief, which when compacted under high pressure, can be used to make delicious and fragrant hash!
What Makes Terpenes Different From Cannabinoids?
While both are abundant compounds within the cannabis plant, cannabinoids are known for acting upon our endocannabinoid system or ECS. Cannabinoids produce their effects by selectively activating or deactivating the receptors in our endocannabinoid system.
In terms of compounds like THC or CBD, the method of consumption also affects how the compounds will interact with our bodies as well as the potency of their effects.
Much like cannabinoids, terpenes also interact with our endocannabinoid system, albeit in a very different way. Terpenes are known to provoke therapeutic sensations and even strong emotions in certain cases.
While cannabinoids may be effective on their own, cannabinoid-terpene interactions are believed to work synergistically to produce better results for the treatment of pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and much more. This is called the entourage effect.
Sometimes certain things are better together. The idea usually goes hand in hand with terpenes and cannabis, as they can help shape the high by accentuating certain aspects of the experiences and diminishing others.
The entourage effect also isn’t limited to cannabinoid-terpenes interactions, it’s also present among the different types of cannabinoids when used in conjunction with each other.
While this is all exciting news, more research is still required to uncover the full effects of whether terpenes are a direct source of effects to THC compounds in the body.
Congratulations, you made it to the end! Hopefully, this article was able to give you a little bit of insight as to the role and importance of terpenes in cannabis.
Continue learning and exploring different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes to find out what you like the best.
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