What Are Cannabis Terpenes?

Those who are patients or in recreational states are probably familiar with the word terpene. For those that don’t know, a terpene is a large and very diverse class of organic compounds that is produced by conifer plants and sometimes even some insects like butterflies and termites. Cannabis contains over 200 known terpenes, they are also present in almost all natural flora. The name comes from turpentine because terpenes are a major component of the resin. It is thought that terpenes are created by the plant to deter herbivores with the aroma or draw in carnivores that eat the herbivore threatening the plant. To know the difference between the two most used buzz words, terpenes are hydrocarbons while terpenoids contain other bonded atoms. These compounds are a base element of aromatherapy essential oils and are widely found in cannabis.

IMG Source: Greenhouse Seeds

As the cannabis world continues to grow, strains are becoming more and more irrelevant as different grows are putting out completely different phenos under the same names as strains that can create very different effects. Terps grow in glands within trichomes on unfertilized feminine seeds. The way that terpenes interact with the endocannabinoid system is very similar to the way that cannabinoids do. They actually work better when they’re all together, each plant is made up of a different composition of the large quantity of terpenes known today. Terpenes have also shown to affect the dopamine and serotonin production, enhance norepinephrine activity and giving way to relief from depression and even pain.

At the most rudimentary level, terpenes are the compound that give cannabis it’s delicious smell. With each strain having a different composition of terpenes it makes more sense why each strain can have a similar but very different effect on people. Terpenes vaporize at about 156°F which means that with a direct flame most of the terpenes are burnt off. That is why vaping cannabis tastes so much better, we’re getting the full terpene profile. When I was a budtender I would always tell patients that couldn’t decide on a strain “Your nose knows.” and entice them to take a whiff. I personally love strains with a musky smell (myrcene) and floral (linalool), both of which help pain. And when I’m feeling depressed a lemon (limonene) strain always makes me drool a bit. Having a conscious understanding of terpenes and their aromas can help us to gain a deeper knowledge of how the plant can heal each of our individual systems.
Smell Wheel

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