Are you a cannabis enthusiast? If you are, you know that the unique aroma of cannabis is unmistakable. You can easily tell it is weed before you even see it. What gives it that skunky, musky, and probably pungent scent? It is the terpenes. Generally, terpenes are aromatic compounds that give herbs and flowers their scent. Cannabis terpenes give weed plants their unique aroma and contribute to their flavor.
What are cannabis terpenes?
Terpenes are hydrocarbons that are found within all plants including cannabis. They provide plants with a unique smell and taste profile. They can also produce a broad range of mood-altering and therapeutic effects in consumers. Later in this article, we will tell you more about this. Keep reading! Cannabis contains several types of terpenes (over 150). However, most of these are only available in trace amounts. The more prominent terpenes in weed work together to give the various strains their unique scent profile.
Where do terpenes in weed come from?
Cannabis terpenes are naturally-occurring compounds available in the trichomes of female weed plants. Trichomes are the sticky glands covering the surface of cannabis buds, leaves, and stems. The pitchy glands produce the terpenes, giving the cannabis plant its distinct aroma.
Apart from the smell, terpenes play a significant role in the growth and survival of the cannabis plant. Terpenes in weed enrich the pigmentation of buds and leaves, enabling the plants to attract some useful creatures while deterring the harmful ones. For example, cannabis terpenes, such as terpinolene, attract insects that help in spreading pollen. Other terpenes such as geraniol repel herbivores that may want to eat the plants.
Terpenes in cannabis are also useful in supporting the plant’s immune system. They convey information regarding the environment, triggering an immune response, and the response helps protect plants from pathogens and stressors.
How cannabis terpenes alter the body
The awareness and use of the aromatic properties associated with terpenes are as old as human history. Man has for long harnessed the aromatic properties of terpenes to invent essential oils for medicinal practices, including aromatherapy.
The use of cannabis terpenes by humans is quite new, and it is unclear how they affect the body. It is hypothesized that the resultant aroma from the terpenes in cannabis works in the same way other plant terpenes do. If you have dabbed lavender oil behind your ears, you can attest they work magic in altering your mood. In the same way, it is believed that cannabis-derived terpenes can help reduce anxiety significantly because they are packed with stress-soothing terpenes.
However, the effects of cannabis-derived terpenes seem to extend beyond the mood-altering and stress-relieving benefits. The compounds have been identified for their medicinal value. Until recently, the focus has been on the therapeutic qualities of CBD and THC. However, as the understanding of terpenes increases, it’s becoming clear that these compounds are medicinal powerhouses.
Do weed terpenes make you high?
While terpenes may not make you feel like you would do when you ingest THC, they can have some effect on your brain. It is also believed that terpenes may affect THC. Marijuana specialists and cultivators advise that when choosing a strain, one should pay more attention to the terpene profiles as compared to the THC content to get the desired effect. If you want to use cannabis for health benefits, you need to consider getting a strain whose terpene profile is associated with the specific health problem.
Although studies are not conclusive on the effect of cannabis-derived terpenes on the body, preliminary studies indicate that they could help with some mental issues such as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. For example, a 2020 study published in the Current Neuropharmacology journal indicates that a combination of terpenes with cannabinoids could help with anxiety and mood disorders. (1)
Terpenes have also been associated with other therapeutic benefits such as protection against viruses, anticancer properties, anti-depressant activities, pain-relieving, and antimicrobial activity. While studies may not be conclusive, you may try products with terpenes to receive these benefits.
How do terpenes compare with THC and CBD?
THC and CBD are the most prominent cannabinoids in cannabis and have varying effects on the body. While terpenes and these cannabinoids are different, they can work collaboratively to produce some effects on the body. They work by influencing each other, producing a synergized effect referred to as the “entourage effect.” The implication is that when these compounds are used in combination, they produce better results than when each is used separately. Therefore, terpenes in cannabis could enhance the health benefits one derives from THC and CBD.
For example, a study on people living with epilepsy showed that the compounds affect each other to create a synergy. The review established that the individuals who consumed full spectrum CBD, including terpenes and cannabinoids, experienced improvement of their symptoms and fewer side effects compared to those who consumed CBD isolate. (2) This study indicates how a combination of terpenes and cannabinoids creates an entourage effect.
Therefore, if you intend to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, you may need to consider how full spectrum CBD may give better benefits than CBD isolate will. A product containing both cannabis terpenes and cannabinoids may provide the effects you desire if an isolated product does not.
Top cannabis terpenes
While all the terpenes in cannabis could be beneficial, the most commonly mentioned are:
Limonene is one of the prominent terpenes in most strains and is associated with a fresh, clean, and citrusy scent. This terpene is found in the rinds of ginger and citrus fruits. The terpene gives some cannabis strains, such as Black Cherry Soda and Papaya Punch, a fruity smell. Similar to several other cannabis terpenes, limonene helps relieve stress. It also helps elevate mood and boost concentration. Limonene is also believed to possess antitumor and anticancer properties. Humulene
Humulene is an additional cannabis terpene. This terpene is responsible for giving cannabis woody, earthy, herbal, and spicy aromas and can be found in different types of wood, sage tobacco, black pepper, and clove. Humulene could benefit the body because it is packed with anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it is beneficial for arthritis and cancer protection.
What are the best smelling cannabis strains?
Nitro Lemon Haze
20 – 24%
400 – 500g/sm
8 – 10 weeks
100 – 180 cm
If you are a fan of citrus fruits then Nitro Lemon Haze has the sharp zesty taste and smell of citrus in abundance. Nitro Lemon Haze is full of the limonene terpene and gives off scents of lemon and lime when in flowering and undertones of pine and the flavour is just as appetizing.
500 – 600g/sm
100 – 180 cm
Sunset Sherbet is a sweet, sharp fruity strain as the name would suggest. A hybrid cross of Girl Scout Cookies and Pink Panties the strain not only provides you with immense flavour and smells but produces upwards of 23% THC.
18 – 21%
400 – 500g/sm
8 – 10 weeks
100 – 180 cm
Bubba Kush is a more traditional smelling cannabis strain with a sweet earthy aroma and hints of wood and coffee. When in full bloom Bubba Kush will be bursting of skunky aromas produced predominantly by the humulene terpene.