Weed Word of the Week: Terpenes

This series is meant to explain the various cannabis-related terms you may have heard. The following is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to condone the use or consumption of the term being defined. For more information, please refer to our disclaimer

When you get a big whiff of your favorite strain, at first it may seem like it just has that tell-tale skunky smell that everyone knows (and some love). But, a closer sniff may reveal more subtle scents, from zesty citrus and fruity berry to earthy, woodsy, floral and beyond. The range of frangrance is due to compounds found in cannabis called terpenes.

Terpenes are the aromatic essential oils that are responsible for the range of aromas that emit from the plant’s resinous glands. They are also naturally present in other plants like lemongrass and juniper, herbs like thyme and rosemary, and fruits including mango and even in the rinds of citrus fruits.

Beyond simply providing a nice smell, terpenes offer rich flavor profiles that can make a strain taste anywhere from earthy to sweet, as well provide medicinal benefits from anti-carcinogenic to anti-inflammatory properties. Just like aromatherapy, where lavender can help you relax, eucalyptus can help with nasal congestion and grapefruit can aid in reducing nausea, the essential oils in cannabis can aid in increasing alertness, reducing pain, improving your mood and decreasing stress.

It’s the synergistic interaction, commonly referred to as the “entourage effect,” between terpenes and cannabinoids that produces the unique psychological and physical effects in the body after consuming different strains. Pay close attention to what terpenes are in particular strains, as they’ll contribute to they type of experience you’ll have.

Though the exact amount of terpenes can vary depending on growing methods and cultivation, every strain has them. Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis, but some of the most common ones include pinene, which is known for memory retention; myrcene, which has a calming effect; limonene, which can help with depression; caryophyllene, which can help ease symptoms of arthritis; and linalool, which can reduce anxiety.

Story by K. Astre

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