Terpenes have been making a buzz in cannabis news lately and for very good reason. Terpenes are what you smell when you take a big whiff of cannabis but, they are present in almost all plants. Traditionally they have been extracted by perfume manufacturers with great precision for their intoxicating effects. The fragrance of pine trees, citrus, and flowers comes from terpenes and can all be found in cannabis. Terps, as they are called, are powerful agents when used in conjunction with cannabis and have a lot to do with the varying effects. Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes play a key role in differentiating the effects of various cannabis strains. Some terpenes promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others promote focus and productivity. Think of them as air traffic control in that they direct the cannabinoids where to go and what effects to have.
Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and every strain tends toward a unique terpene type and combination. In other words, a strain like Cheese and its descendants will likely have a discernible cheese-like smell, and Blueberry offspring often inherit the smell of berries.
The diversity of cannabis flavors is impressive enough, but the most fascinating characteristic of terpenes is their ability to interact synergistically with other compounds in marijuana, like cannabinoids. The effect of any given terpene may change in the presence of other compounds in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. Most importantly, terpenes may offer additional medical value as they mediate our body’s interaction with therapeutic cannabinoids. Many cannabis analysis labs now test terpene content, so you may have a better idea of what effects a strain might produce.
Here are a few of the most common terpenes found in cannabis: