What are terpenes? Where are they found? And what do they do?
Most seasoned stoners know that different strains of cannabis produce different effects. Some strains boost your energy and stimulate your mind. Others unlock unknown creativity. Still others can make your limbs tingle pleasantly or help you drift off to sleep. Often, the cannabis community uses terms like Indica, Hybrid and Sativa to differentiate between effects. But some experts have indicated that terpenes actually account for many of the effects and benefits of the plant.
Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants. Basically, they’re everywhere. They give plants their distinct flavors and smells, like citruses, florals, pine, or eucalyptus.
Terpenes makeup essential oils from plants and flowers. Western and alternative medicines use terpenes for their healing benefits. Aromatherapy, fragrances, and flavorings often use terpenes for scent and flavor and effect. Fun fact: Vitamin A is a terpene!
Aromatherapy works by targeting the specific effects of certain terpenes to affect the body in different ways:
- Lemon and citrus can be stimulating.
- Lavender tends to relax and calm.
- Mint can help open airways in the lungs, benefiting respiratory function.
Terpenes in cannabis play major roles in contributing to the effects of each strain. Several factors can influence the development of terpenes like genetics, climate, soil type, age and maturation, and soil conditions.
Some terpenes also bind to the receptors in the brain responsible for the production of psychoactive effects, leading many to believe that terpenes play a key role in determining the high the consumer experiences. That means there are a lot of contributing factors to strain potency, beyond total cannabinoid percentage labels.
While THC content can certainly suggest a stoney product, terpene profiles also affect how stoney and the specific qualities associated with a strain. Some terpenes can modify how much THC passes through the blood-brain barrier–the more, the stonier. Certain terpenes can affect dopamine and serotonin by changing their production and destruction.
So how do you know which products will provide the stoney outcomes you’re looking for?
Check out this breakdown of commonly found terpenes, their characteristics, and their medical benefits:
Alpha-Pinene and Beta-Pinene
Effects: Alertness, memory retention, counteracts some THC effects
Medical Value: Asthma, antiseptic
Also Found In: Basil, dill, pine needles, parsley, and rosemary
High Pinene Cannabis Strains:
Aroma: Musky, cloves, earthy, herbal with notes of citrus and tropical fruit
Also Found In: Hops, lemongrass, mango, and thyme
High Myrcene Cannabis Strains:
Also Found In: Fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, peppermint
High Limonene Cannabis Strains:
Also Found In: Black pepper, cloves, cotton
High Caryophyllene Cannabis Strains:
Also Found In: Cinnamon, certain types of fungi, lavender, and mint
High Linalool Cannabis Strains:
Flavor / Aroma – Floral, citrus, and candy
- Flavor/Aroma Floral: specifically like geraniums occasionally fruity like passionfruit, peaches, or plums
- Medical Uses: Can be used as a mosquito repellent. Can also potentially act as an anti-fungal, an anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, and as a neuroprotectant
- Also found in: stonefruits like passionfruit, peaches, and plums, as well as several types of flowers
Delta 3 Carene
- Flavor / Aroma – Piney / earthy, a little lemony. Delta 3 carene, specifically, is also produced by basil, bell pepper, cedar, pine, and rosemary
- Medicinal Uses – Studies have found Delta 3 Carene to be an effective anti inflammatory. It is also known to dry fluids like tears, running noses–helloOo cotton mouth and redeye (what have you been doing on your work break?). It can help arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions resulting from systemic inflammation. Experts remain hopeful in terpenes’ ability to aid in bone repair for conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis or repair after injury or malnutrition.
- Flavor / Aroma – Herbal.
- Medicinal Uses – Camphene has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and antibiotic characteristics. It can also be found in turpentine, cypress oil, camphor oil, citronella
- Strain – One study seems to show that camphene occurs frequently in heavier indica strains.
- Flavor / Aroma – Spicy. Eucalyptol is used as a cooking spice and fragrance.
- Medicinal Uses – Can be effective in removing mucus from airways, reduce asthma symptoms. Eucalyptol is used in a variety of products including cough suppressants, mouthwash, and body powder. Can also be found in bay leaves, tea tree, sweet basil, rosemary, common sage, and other aromatic plant foliage.
- Strains – Some cannabis strains contain eucalyptol, however, it is typically in very small amounts. An analysis of Super Silver Haze showed .06% eucalyptol.
- Flavor / Aroma – Hoppy. Cannabis and hops are basically cousins.
- Medicinal Uses – Studies suggest that caryophyllene may help treat anxiety and depression.
- Strain – Green House Seeds tested a hydroponic and a soil-grown specimen of Train Wreck. They found the soil grown cannabis contained .33% caryophyllene. The hydronic only contained .07% caryophyllene.
- Flavor / Aroma – Pine, clove. Also occures in pine trees, lime blossoms, and lilacs.
- Medicinal Uses – Studies suggest cannabis-extracted terpineol contains antioxidant properties. Antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-tumor, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, and anxiolytic
- Strain – A marijuana testing lab claims terpineol is a unique terpene found in