what are terpenes

A Crash Course on Terpenes (and how they impact your cannabis experience)

As natural compounds in plants and plant-derived products, terpenes are responsible for the flavor and smell of every plant on earth. Learn why they could be important to you and the affect they have on your cannabis experience.
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In this article you’ll learn:

What is a terpene

what is a terpene

You may not be familiar with the term terpenes, but you’ll be familiar with what they are and their effects. As natural compounds in plants and plant-derived products, terpenes are responsible for the flavor and smell of every plant on earth. They give orange its zest and strong pleasant smell.

To get technical for a moment, terpenes are the aromatic metabolites found in plant oils. This may sound more complex than it is. A metabolite is simply a substance formed during or necessary to metabolism, which is the chemical process that occurs within a living organism to maintain life or use energy. 

Terpenes give cannabis its smell, aroma, and taste. They are secreted from the same glands that create THC and CBD. Over 100 terpenes have been identified so far, each with a unique profile. 

Some industry insiders, such as those who specialize in using cannabis oils for medicinal purposes, believe that the different terpenes strains have different properties. 

For example, Limonene is believed to elevate mood through its distinctive citrus aroma. Some of the latest studies back this up. They conclude that the terpenes found in cannabis do more than determine the way a strain smells and tastes, but also help determine how they work at a chemical level. This means that they influence the effects of different strains of cannabis. 

Whereas cannabinoids bind to receptors located in the brain and throughout the body, it seems that terpenes have an effect on how this binding takes place. This has led some industry insiders to believe that terpenes can influence how other compounds such as THC can affect mood. This is known as the ‘entourage effect.’ It opens a world of possibilities for the various combinations of subtle interactions between terpenes and cannabinoids, which is likely to open up new scientific and medical research opportunities. 

The effects of terpenes in cannabis are only just becoming understood. Until recently, research into cannabis strains focused on cannabinoids rather than terpenes. Many cannabis analysis labs, however, are now testing for terpene content to give people a better idea of what effects particular strains may produce. 

Common terpenes

common terpenes

Cannabis shares terpenes with other plants, many of which, such as citrus or lavender have been used for a range of medicinal purposes over centuries. While terpenes are only just coming to the fore in cannabis research, they are well understood in the wider world of aromatherapy.  

As well a scent and taste, terpenes have different vaporization temperatures and many believe them to affect mood. Some of the most commonly found terpenes include:

Caryophyllene: Also found in pepper and cinnamon, giving a similar scent to these historically treasured spices. Condenses at around 270f’ / 130c. Common in some hybrids. Traditionally used to treat pain and ulcers. 

Myrcene: Also found in Mango, Lemongrass, Thyme, and Hops. A fresh and light scent, often used in air fresheners. Condenses at around 330f / 165c. Found in strains such as Amnesia and Trainwreck. Myrcene has potential value in helping with inflammation, pain, and insomnia. 

Limonene: One of the most commonly used terpenes in the world, Limonene is found in citrus fruit rind, rosemary, and peppermint. It condenses at around 350f / 175c. Found in some named strains, such as Hindu Kush and Lemon Grass. Some insiders believe Limonene could be used to help with depression, anxiety, and pain. 

Linalool: Found in Lavender, which has been used for centuries for its relaxing scent and aroma. Condenses at just below 390f or 198c. Found in Romulan and Sour Kush among other strains. Linalool has been used for centuries to improve mood and help with depression and insomnia.

Pinene: Found in pine, basil, and dill and commonly used to freshen air and clothes. Pinene condenses at around 310f or 155c and is found in named strains, such as Bubba Kush, Island Sweet Skunk, and Strawberry Cough. Pinene has been used to reduce pain and anxiety, and treat ulcers and asthma. 

How Terpenes Affect Cannabis

how do terpenes affect cannabis

While the exact effects of terpenes aren’t known, connoisseurs and industry insiders alike consider that, as well as enhancing the overall experience through flavor and scent, terpenes may impact the effect of cannabinoids. 

As always, the best way to enjoy such substances is through Firefly vaporizers, as these give you control over the exact temperature at which your herbs are vaporized.