What Are Terpenes? More Than Meets the Nose

Would a strain by any other name smell just as sweet? Whether it’s the sweet, yeasty, fresh-baked aroma of Girl Scout Cookies or the juicy, citrus fragrance of Lemon Zkittles, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the smell and flavour of a cultivar. 

With research broadening our understanding of cannabis, one type of compound found within our favourite strains has been found not just to be responsible for the aroma and taste we all know and love but could also affect the effects.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic oils and compounds produced by plants and by some insects. Terpenes are what give herbs, fruits, and plants their unique aromas and smell. In nature, these scents have several purposes, including attracting or repelling predators or pollinators, aiding in reproduction, or providing protection against the elements.

In cannabis plants, terpenes are produced by resin glands found within some types of trichomes, the delicate, tiny hairs on the surface of cannabis plants. Trichomes also produce THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Each strain will have its unique blend of terpenes, responsible for their smell and flavour. 

Typically, cannabis plants will contain upwards of 200 different terpenes, with around 20-30 terpenes being the most prevalent and easiest to detect.

Terpenes, such as limonene found within lemons and linalool, found within lavender, have a distinctive smell and, arguably, positive effects. Some terpenes, such as the ones sourced from the Japanese citrus fruit Yuzu, have been found to help modulate mood and alleviate negative emotional stress

While research is still being done on the influence of terpenes, and the effects of cannabis, the ‘entourage effect’ is gaining popularity in explaining how the experience provided by different strains differ from each other. 

A scientific review published in 2010 examined the influence of common cannabis terpenes on THC and CBD. The researchers had theorized that certain terpenes, which have beneficial, therapeutic properties themselves, interact with cannabinoids to deliver a new set of effects. Such insight could explain each strain’s different experiences, but more research is needed before anything conclusive can be said. 

Exploring Terpenes

As the cannabis space evolves, cannabis producers are evolving, too. Many Licensed Producers, including Acreage Pharms, are now conducting lab tests to identify and measure the presence and amount of terpenes found within each of their cultivars. While research surrounding the entourage effect is still in its infancy, knowledge of cannabis terpenes could help you pick a strain that’s right for you.

Although terpenes appear in only low percentage amounts, there are a few dominant ones that you should take into consideration when determining your next purchase. 

Limonene

Found within lemons and other citrus fruits, researchers have found that limonene has significant anti-stress properties and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Limonene also serves to reduce anxiety

Linalool

Most abundant in lavender and rose, linalool has been found to reduce anxiety and act as a powerful sedative. As its source would suggest, linalool is responsible for floral scents found within some varieties of cannabis. 

Myrcene

Fragrant, spicy, and aromatic, myrcene is a terpene that’s found regularly in hops, bay leaves, and lemongrass. Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis and is effective in relieving pain and a powerful sedative.

Alpha-Pinene

Found within pine trees, sage, and ironwort, alpha-pinene is commonly used in perfumes and cleaning products. Alpha pinene is the chief terpene responsible for the pungent, skunky smell of some cannabis strains. Alpha pinene has also been found to increase energy and act as an effective anti-inflammatory

Beta-Caryophyllene 

Beta-Caryophyllene has a spicy and woody fragrance and is most prevalent in black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon.  Beta-Caryophyllene is an effective analgesic and acts to reduce inflammation and neuropathic pain

Browsing by Terpenes instead of Strains

While research into the effects of terpenes and cannabis is just beginning, many theories and anecdotal accounts suggest that there could be more to terpenes than meets the nose. While nothing is for certain, knowing what kind of terpenes are involved in each strain could help you make a decision that’s better suited for not only your taste buds but your experience as a whole.

Acreage Pharms lab tests each strain and cultivar to provide accurate information on terpene profile and cannabinoid content. Instead of strain names guiding your decision, let the terpenes help you decide your next pick! 

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