You know it when you smell it. Maybe that smell even got you in trouble once or twice.
Top shelf connoisseur-level bud, the absolute dankest of the dank, always smells. Why can you usually tell who has the good stuff just by sniffing around? The short answer: terpenes. The most common terpenes found in cannabis are shown below. These volatile organic compounds are what give high quality cannabis its amazingly complex taste and smell.
As we learn more and more about the medicinal benefits of cannabis, we begin to view it in a different light. Our knowledge and vocabulary has expanded beyond THC, but it hasn’t expanded far enough. Lately, the focus has been aimed towards the other major cannabinoids – CBD, CBN, CBC and CBG – which have been shown to alleviate symptoms such as pain, nausea, seizures, and inflammation.
But these cannabinoids, on their own, do not tell the full story. They do not account for the total effects felt.
Without terpenes, cannabis would be very bland. THC and other cannabinoids have little odor or taste – which sounds about as enjoyable as eating a flavorless bowl of rice.
Without terpenes, cannabis would be very bland. THC and other cannabinoids have little odor or taste –about as enjoyable as eating a flavorless bowl of rice. You need to spice things up a bit! Alpha-pinene, myrcene, limonene, and linalool may not roll off the tongue, but their sensory descriptors like piney, musky, fruity, tropical, spicy, floral, and citrusy immediately conjure up memories of familiar tastes and aromas. It’s then no surprise to learn that terpenes aren’t unique to cannabis – they can be found in everything from plants and herbs to fruits and spices.
Terpenes are an important component to the overall cannabis experience, not only influencing a strain’s taste and smell but also influencing its effects on the body and mind. The total effect of all of the components in cannabis is referred to as the “entourage effect.” This documented phenomenon is what distinguishes one strain from another, and research shows it relies heavily on the physiological effects produced by terpenes.
Terpenes shape the feelings and effects a strain delivers. Whether you’re a patient seeking therapeutic effects, a grower looking to tailor a strain or just looking for a certain kind of buzz, it’s time to learn about terpenes and to use them to your advantage.
Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis; and despite not being quite as popular or as well-studied as cannabinoids, these diverse molecules are instrumental in delivering the physiological and psychoactive effects of cannabis. Terpenes work in concert to either catalyze or inhibit effects of other compounds within the plant. This entourage effect is the culmination of a unique and synergistic combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, producing maximal medical efficacy and ultimately, allowing patients to distinguish which strains work best for them.
Knowledge is Power—Get to Know Your Terpenes
You don’t have to be a scientist or botanist to learn about the most common terpenes found in cannabis and the effects they have on your body.
Using your nose and the guide below you can begin to identify which terpenes will offer you the therapeutic relief or general experience you desire. All you have to do is pick a strain, or a desired effect, or a symptom you want to relieve; customize your cannabis to meet your needs.