Cannabis Terpenes: Why They’re Important
From sweet fruit to woodsy pine, pungent diesel to enticing lavender, the depth of fragrance and flavor found in high-quality cannabis is both immersive and astonishingly complex. And it’s all thanks to the family of aromatic oils known as terpenes.
What are terpenes? In addition to being the principal aromatics found in cannabis, terpenes are chemical compounds found in much of the planet’s organic plant life (and even some animals and insects!). But in the world of cannabis, terpenes are aromatic essential oils that give every strain its unique scent and taste. But weed terpenes are much more than “pretty smells.” Beyond their sensory characteristics, a growing number of clinical studies suggest that terpenes can also impart therapeutic effects, influencing your experience with cannabis and offering a wide range of potential benefits.
If you’ve been asking “what are terpenes” then today’s post is must-read information. We will cover the fascinating complexities found in cannabis terpenes including their therapeutic benefits. Let’s dive in!
Everything You Need to Know About Cannabis Terpenes
Not surprisingly, cannabis terpenes don’t exist merely to entice us. These aromatic oils act as a natural defense mechanism. The cannabis plant relies on its strong scent to attract essential pollinators while warding off harmful pests. Environmental factors such as fertilization, soil conditions, and climate heavily influence how plants develop their terpenes. And cannabis plants can also develop distinctly different terpenes at different stages of their growth cycle, depending on conditions like the ones named above. That’s pretty impressive work for a plant, wouldn’t you say?
Terpenes—sometimes known as “terpenoids”—are the largest and most diverse group of naturally occurring compounds found in nature! There are over 20,000 known terpene varieties that occur naturally throughout the plant kingdom and elsewhere.
What Are Terpene Profiles?
It’s rare that a plant produces a single terpene. Instead, botanists tend to refer to its “terpene profile.” Simply put, it’s simply the combination of all the unique terpenoids a plant produces. Various plants can produce a number of different terpenes at the same time to benefit their growth and survival in different ways. Individual strains of cannabis produce the similar terpene profiles, resulting in their defining and characteristic aromas, flavors, and benefits.
That said, individual plants will express differing terpene contents based on how they’re cultivated and cared for after harvest. If you’ve ever tried the class of cannabis concentrates known as live resin, you’ve no doubt experienced its “hyperrealistic” flavors and aromas. The reason these concentrates are so flavorful is because the cannabis plants are flash-frozen immediately after harvest, locking in their intense terpene contents which are then extracted into the resin. (If you’re interested in experiencing live resin for yourself, we can help!)
Common Cannabis Terpenes: A World of Scents and Flavors
There are over 150 terpene varieties found in cannabis, and all of them provide the plant with diverse aromas and flavors. It’s important to note the distinction between weed terpenes and cannabinoids. As we’ve explained, terpenes are a vast and diverse family of aromatic compounds.
Cannabinoids, by comparison, are a family of natural compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC and CBD. One way to think of cannabinoids is as the plant’s most medically important “active ingredients,” while terpenes are the chief components of a given cannabis strain’s characteristic flavors and aromas.
On a related note, cannabis strains or individual plants with strong aromas aren’t necessarily more potent than others, but have merely developed a higher terpenoid content.
With so many cannabis terpenes to categorize, where do you start? Fortunately, nature made it easy on us. Because while there are many dozens of terpenes in the plant, a relative handful constitute the most important of them. Some of the most common terpenes in cannabis include:
- Myrcene: Sometimes known as the “mother of all terpenes” for the important synergies with other terpenes and cannabinoids it enables.
- Limonene: A bright and cheerful citrus aroma, limonene has been shown to impart subtle mood-lifting effects.
- Pinene: The most common terpene in the world thanks to its presence in evergreen trees, pinene is shown to have anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective qualities.
- Humulene: Also found in hops, the main flavor component of beer, this fragrant oil has been shown to exert appetite-suppressant effects.
The unique terpene compounds in every strain of cannabis will have distinctly identifiable characteristics and are sometimes described in the strain’s name—in Pineapple Kush, for example. But because of the complexity of terpenes found in a given cannabis plant, the name may not always indicate the most dominant aroma in the flower.
Sound confusing? It doesn’t need to be: The staff here at Abide Napa cannabis dispensary are happy to provide expert knowledge about the different flavor profiles of cannabis terpenes, and recommend products based on your tastes, your needs, and your goals!
How Cannabis Terpenes Can Affect Your Body and Mind
As interest in cannabis-based medicine increases, research into terpenes and their potential health benefits has picked up momentum. As we hinted earlier, studies have already determined that cannabis terpenes are active ingredients that contribute to the therapeutic benefits of the plant.
When terpenes synergize with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, it significantly contributes to the functional and therapeutic effects the cannabis flower provides. This is commonly known as the “entourage effect” or the “ensemble effect,” and it’s a clue as to the vast potential contained in this humble plant.
Certain cannabis terpenes can help patients alleviate physical symptoms like:
- Pain: Studies suggest certain terpenes may relieve pain
- Inflammation: Similarly, some terpenes are implicated in anti-inflammatory responses
- Nausea: One study suggests that limonene can reduce nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms associated with pregnancy
- Depression: Pinene and linalool, among other terpenes, have been studied for their potential antidepressant effects, among others
Learn More About the Science of Cannabis Terpenes at Abide Napa
At Abide, our cannabis connoisseurs have a deep understanding of terpenes and the many benefits they provide to your cannabis experience. We can guide you through our selection of high-quality medical cannabis and explain their unique terpene profiles in detail, to help you find the best products for your needs.
Visit our new cannabis dispensary in downtown Napa to meet with our expert team, or order online for same-day local delivery or curbside pick-up.
1963 Iroquois st.
Napa, CA 94559
Abide Dispensary Hours
Monday – Sunday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm