With advancements in growing technology, genetics, and techniques, cannabis users are consistently coming by stronger and stronger weed with more varieties to choose from. Experienced cannasseurs will tell you that the effects of a high can vary tremendously from strain to strain, but what causes these differences? The answer, it seems, has a lot to do with Terpenes.
It’s become common knowledge that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most prevalent compound in the cannabis plant, and is responsible for most of the “heady” psychoactive effects. You also probably know that CBD (cannabidiol) is less prevalent in the plant, but has tremendous potential for medical treatments and produces little to no psychoactive effects. Terpenes are created in the same glands (called trichomes) that produce THC and CBD, and are responsible for pretty many of the variations in smell, flavor, and effects that we find from strain to strain.
Terepenes are volatile and evaporate very easily, which is what makes them so easy to smell. Unlike THC and CBD, terpenes are also found throughout the rest of the natural world in most plants. However, interestingly scientists have found that the spectrum of flavors expressed in cannabis terpenes is far broader than with any other plant. There have been over 200 different terpenes discovered in the cannabis plant, and the flavors of each can vary greatly from strain to strain. As they learn more about terpenes, scientists are finding that individual terpenes can be directly linked to very specific medical benefits. To give you an idea of what we mean, we’ll provide a breakdown of a couple of the more well-known terpenes in the cannabis plant, and some of their known effects.
Guide to Terpenes
Present in many varieties of cannabis, and has been found to be a powerful sedative, anti-inflammatory, and painkiller. This terepene produces a musky, “dank” smell, and has been attributed to the “couch-lock” experience that many cannabis consumers enjoy.
Caryophyllene has been known to be an effective treatment for arthritis, ulcers, and autoimmune issues. It produces the spicy, peppery smell that is found in many strains.
Produces a sweet, citrus-like smell that has become the trademark of strains like Super Lemon Haze and OG Kush. It is known to have mood-enhancing effects, as well as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-heartburn capabilities.
Remember that there are over 200 kinds of terpenes found in the cannabis flower, making the terpenoid profiles of each strain incredibly complex. These terpenes tend to work at their best in synergy with each other, enhancing the medical benefits, potency, and aromas of the plant. This idea of synergy is why many medical marijuana treatments require full-plant extractions in order to work far better than extractions that only use one part of the flower such as the leaves.
As we discover more and more about terpenes, growers and extractors are beginning to find that it may be possible to isolate specific terpenes in order to create very potent, very targeted medicine from cannabis. The possibilities are endless, and they are very exciting. When the federal government finally opens the doors for more medical marijuana research in the US, it could open the floodgates for a revolution in all-natural medicinal treatments.