Cannabis can embody many familiar flavors that can have you flashing back to favorite childhood foods and memorable meals. Cannabis gets its flavor profile from terpenes, and there are many different terpenes and combinations that are all found in nature.
These tasty terpene profiles can taste like pine, citrus, pepper, florals, fruits, and more. Many foodies will be very familiar with terpenes as they determine wine and cheese pairings and can relay a lot of information about a certain food.
Terpenes are found in nature and are the basis of essential oils which are used for everything from cooking to massages and alternative healing practices. Not only can terpenes enhance the high you get from cannabis, but they can also factor in to the medicinal effects of cannabis.
But what exactly are terpenes?
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbons (aka organic compounds) that help make up the smell found in the essential oils of certain plants. There are many plants that contain terpenes, cannabis included. Plants and even some insects produce terpenes as a way to ward off herbivores that could devour them in a day. In addition to protection, terpenes are also helpful to help attract helpful predators and pollinators. Cannabis naturally has high levels of terpes which it developed for exactly the same reasons other plants have. The smell a dank flower has is from rich terpenes!
A decade ago, the average cannabis user had no idea the effect terpenes had on their experience. Once reserved for foodies and gourmet chefs, terpenes are now one of the most popular and coveted aspects of cannabis.
If you’ve ever used essential oils, then you’re already more familiar with terpenes than you think. The terpenes in essential oils are some of the most common scents we are familiar with. From citrus to lavender, pine to florals, terpenes are abundant in nature. All of these and thousands more are found in cannabis.
Why Do Terpenes Matter?
Terpenes are the backbone of cannabis. They create the smell and taste that is coveted, worked into names, and left in the mouths of happy consumers. Terpenes also have highly effective medicinal benefits which add to what cannabis already has to offer in terms of healing. This healing effect has been called The Entourage Effect which means that each part of the whole works together as one to create a unique effect that is only possible when all parts are present. This synergistic relationship between all the compounds and cannabinoids in cannabis is truly something magical. Nature has created a perfect blend of everything needed in one plant.
There are more than two hundred known terpenes in cannabis and they all have different smells and tastes like earthy, citrusy, creamy, floral, gassy, and more.
Because of the interest in terpenes, especially in vapes and concentrates, terpene information can now be found on packaging in legal states where medical and recreational cannabis is sold at dispensaries.
You can explore the different terpene profiles and learn how to understand and choose the best terpene for you and your taste buds in this article.
Common Terpenes and Their Effects:
A smokey or woody aroma that is slightly sedative, antioxidant, anti-cancer and antibacterial.
Gastroprotective and a strong anti-inflammatory with a woody, peppery taste.
This is the main constituent of hops and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and a hunger-suppressant.
This is the most common terpene found in cannabis. It’s known for its highly-sedative effects and is rich in indica strains.
Alpha and Beta-Pinene:
Energetic, therapeutic and refreshing, this terpene is common in pine needles.
Common in citrus, it is highly-energetic, clean-tasting, and a known antidepressant.
How and Why Terpenes Matter in Cannabis
Going back to The Entourage Effect, cannabis terpenes, neurologist and researcher Ethan Russo discovered something incredible about cannabis and terpenes and how they work together in this groundbreaking study published in 2011. Russo and team helped reveal how other cannabinoids (like CBD) and terpenes can either increase or decrease the effects of THC and other chemicals in the body that interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates homeostasis and many other functions in the body.
Until 1988, we weren’t aware of the ECS and the many functions it regulated like sleep, stress, appetite, joy and more.
The ECS is a pretty incredible part of the body. When it is in balance and performing normally, we feel balanced and at peace. We can experience deep and restful sleep, and controlled appetite, management of stress and anxiety, lack of depression, and even better sex. When the ECS is out of whack, however, the opposite of all of this is true. The body can easily manifest disease, illness, and many of the ailments that are commonly reported by most Americans including insomnia and stress.
Cannabis, and the terpenes within it, can work to restore balance to the ECS and the body as a whole. The most powerful effects are seen in cannabis because of The Entourage Effect.
Dr. Russo and found that terpenes “could produce synergy with respect to the treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections.”
Medical Benefits of Terpenes
With the boom of the essential oils industry, science rushed to catch up with the medical claims being made. This fueled a lot of research into terpenes and their medicinal benefits. This research came to the conclusion that essential oils do indeed have many medical benefits, which translates to the terpenes found in cannabis as well. Medical marijuana is so potent because all the main terpenes found in cannabis are either analgesic (anti-pain) or anti-inflammatory.
While there are different strains and compounds in cannabis that produce an energizing or sedative high, terpenes also play a major role in those effects. Just like we are made up of more bacteria than human cells, cannabis is made up of many terpenes that create different effects and behavior in the consumer that wouldn’t be possible if they weren’t there.
Go on a Terpene Tour!
The best way to discover what you like, or to buy for a specific ailment, is to try different strains and talk with a professional budtender at your favorite local recreational dispensary. Cannabis has so much to offer in terms of healing and there is a strain that can cater to the exact effect you’re looking to have. An easy and affordable way to experience many different terpenes and strains is to buy pre-rolled joints or grams.
Stop into The Spot 420 for expert advice and a wide selection of terpene-rich cannabis!