What are Terpenes and What do They Do?
Terpenes are aromatic organic compounds (like essential oils) found throughout nature that give plants their distinctive scent and taste and therapeutic effects. When referring to cannabis, terpenes are responsible not only for taste and scent, but they work together with cannabinoids like THC and CBD in what is called the entourage effect to give cannabis strains their distinctive effects.
The marijuana plant is composed of over a hundred compounds called cannabinoids. While the most popular are THC and CBD, the numerous other cannabinoids and terpenes contribute significantly to how a strain will make you feel. When you cut into a lemon and smell the tart citrus, the terpene responsible for that is limonene. Limonene is one of the most prevalent strains found in cannabis, and is found in cannabis strains like Super Lemon Haze and Mandarin Cookies. Limonene has anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antidiabetic properties and makes you feel happy, focused, and creative.
Another popular terpene found commonly in marijuana is myrcene. Myrcene is also found in mangoes and has sedative properties and is a popular choice treating insomnia and chronic pain.
Occasionally one may come across a strain of cannabis that makes them feel unpleasant. Often this can be traced to a food allergy, such as an allergy to pepper. Since beta-caryophyllene is found in pepper, one should avoid strains with beta-caryophyllene. There are hundreds of terpenes, but the ones most prevalently found in cannabis are myrcene, limonene, pinene, terpinolene, linalool, and caryophyllene.
While the cannabis industry slowly moves away from the outdated terms indica, sativa, and hybrid, some companies are classifying their strains and products by effects like “calm” and “stimulating,” but you are more likely to find strains described by their scents and tastes. The most common you will see are floral, fruity, herbal, earthy, spicy, skunky, gas, and diesel. For a more thorough breakdown of the variety of flavors found in cannabis, click here.