As the two most prominent and psychoactive cannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD get a lot of attention. But lately, much attention has been paid to terpenes and how they affect the cannabis experience. Why? Well, it turns out that terpenes may actually play a more significant role in cannabis than first thought.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbon compounds responsible for giving plants like cannabis their smell and flavor. It’s believed that plants like cannabis developed terpenes for adaptive purposes – specifically to attract pollinators and deter predators.
Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and each cannabis strain has a near-unique terpene profile and composition. Even if it features the same terpenes as another strain, it likely features them in different amounts. This is why each strain has its own smell.
But ultimately, the terpene content of any given cannabis bud will depend on more than just its genetics. It will also depend on things like the soil and conditions that it was grown in, its age, how it has been cured, and how it has been handled.
For example, live resin concentrates are known for their incredible flavor and outstanding terpene content. They are able to retain so many natural terpenes because they are made using a method that skips the curing process, opting instead to freeze the flower immediately after harvest. By not drying and curing the flower for an extended period of time, more of its natural terpene content and natural flavors are preserved.
More Than Just Flavor
What are terpenes really responsible for in cannabis? Recent research indicates that terpenes may be responsible for more than just flavor and smell. They may also influence the effects that cannabis produces, and in more than one way.
A study from 2018 found that certain terpenoids were capable of exerting anti-nociceptive (modulation of pain-perception) and anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers noted that the transient effects produced by these terpenes may make them useful in the treatment of acute inflammation, whereas the prolonged immunosuppressive effects of CBD may make it a better choice for chronic inflammation.
Terpenes may also bolster the effects produced by cannabinoids through a phenomenon called the entourage effect. This theory proposes that terpenes work in synergy with cannabinoids, flavonoids, and other plant compounds to produce the overall effects of cannabis, with each part contributing something.
The Most Common Terpenes In Cannabis
While there many different terpenes that can be found in the cannabis plant, some terpenes are more common than others. For example, around half of all strains are believed to feature myrcene as their dominant terpene. For that reason, myrcene has been dubbed the ‘mother of all terpenes’.
Here are the 5 most common terpenes that you can find in cannabis strains today:
- Myrcene: smells like cloves and herbs.
- Caryophyllene: smells spicy like pepper.
- Limonene: smells like citrus and limes.
- Pinene: smells like pine.
- Humulene: smells like hops.