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Identifying Terpenes in Cannabis

If you’ve opened a fresh package of cannabis recently, your nose may have been overwhelmed with the strong aroma that pours out of the cannabis jar. If you’re familiar with cannabis, or most plants in general, you may have noticed their distinct smells and aromas. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis that create a sensory experience that goes beyond the typical “weed” stereotype. 

From the earthy and musky myrcene to the citrusy and uplifting limonene, this unique blend of terpenes can be found in all cannabis plants – but which terpenes and compounds consist in this blend is what sets each cultivar apart from the next. 

Not only is this terpene profile contributing to each strain’s flavor and aroma, but it also induces an array of effects felt when consumed. Imagine each terpene and compound in cannabis is a musical instrument – when these compounds are combined when consumed, a harmonious orchestra performs synergizing cannabis effects. 

In this blog from Misty Mountain, we’re breaking down the definition and purpose of terpenes, highlighting their importance in cannabis and how they can help you choose the right strain for you. 

What are Terpenes? 

First and foremost, let’s discover the definition of terpenes – 

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that hold particular aromatic and chemical profiles for plants. These tiny plant compounds act as the essential oils of plants, responsible for captivating fragrances and aromatic profiles that add to the plant’s overall unique essence. 

Additionally, terpenes also play a crucial role in the plant kingdom’s protection and survival – acting as a defense mechanism for plants to deter pests or predators and instead, attract pollinators. There are hundreds of thousands of terpenes, among other aromatic compounds, that influence the chemical flavor profile of plants all around us. 

While it’s not possible yet to identify each different type of terpene or compound that is composed of various plant species, many scientific discoveries are suggesting the immense role and potential of terpenes in cannabis. 

The Importance of Terpenes in Cannabis

It’s important to understand that terpenes aren’t unique to cannabis, but greatly influence the uniqueness of each cannabis cultivar and the high we get from consuming it. 

Terpenes, like cannabinoids, play a huge role in the overall effects and experience of consuming cannabis. Together, both of these potent compounds are what give us a unique high experience.

With such a complex plant as cannabis that hosts hundreds of various cannabinoids and cannabis compounds, terpenes play a significant role in the game. For cannabis plants, terpenes contribute significantly to its unique chemical flavor profile. Each cultivar of cannabis has its own combination of terpenes – this profile is made up of the aroma, taste, and overall effects of the cannabis consumed.

Shopping around at a dispensary in Massachusetts, you may hear the different strains of cannabis classified as hybrid, sativa, and indica. This has been a general categorization to help consumers determine their desired high effects with consumption. 

However, this form of classification only scratches the surface of how we can identify and classify this plant. 

What are the Common Terpenes Found in Cannabis? 

Now, considering terpenes are the conductors of the cannabis orchestra, each cannabis terpene plays a specific “instrument” or role, to create a well-rounded sensory experience. Aside from their distinct aroma and flavor profile, terpenes are known as the mood-setters in weed – influencing whether your body’s effects will be more laid back or buzzing with energy. 

Today, there are around 8 major terpenes that can be identified in most cannabis cultivars. These terpenes all hold specific characteristics individually, making them widely sought after by cannabis consumers. 

Myrcene:

Aroma: Earthy, musky, herbal.

Effects: Relaxing, sedative. Larger contents of this terpene are associated with the sedating “couch-lock” feeling, however, in smaller contents, myrcene can increase euphoria. 

Limonene:

Aroma: Citrusy, lemon, orange.

Effects: Uplifting, mood-enhancing. Known for its potential anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties, limonene is found in many cosmetic ingredients and essential oils for its uplifting properties.

Pinene:

Aroma: Pine, fresh, herbal.

Effects: Alertness, improved respiratory function. As an essential oil for aromatherapy, pinene is often associated with a sense of mental clarity.

Caryophyllene:

Aroma: Peppery, spicy, woody.

Effects: Anti-inflammatory, potentially helpful for pain relief. This terpene is also the only known terpene to interact with CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

Linalool:

Aroma: Floral, lavender, slightly spicy.

Effects: Calming, anti-anxiety, potential sedative effects. Commonly found in lavender essential oils, this terpene is associated with relaxation.

Humulene:

Aroma: Woody, earthy, herbal.

Effects: Appetite suppressant, anti-inflammatory. Humulene is a terpene recently being studied for its potential use in weight loss.

Terpinolene:

Aroma: Floral, herbal, fruity.

Effects: Energizing, anti-anxiety. This terpene is often found in more sativa-leaning cultivars, contributing to a more dynamic and uplifting experience.

Ocimene:

Aroma: Sweet, citrus, herbal.

Effects: Energizing, anti-inflammatory. This is one of the rare terpenes in cannabis, known to be a fruity and floral profile – similar to orchids.

Understanding the Entourage Effect

In cannabis, if cannabinoids are the car, terpenes are the driver. While cannabinoids such as THC or CBD will provide specific signals and psychoactive responses, terpenes will steer you into the therapeutic effects provided by that strain. 

The Entourage Effect is a studied theory in cannabis consumption that reflects the idea that while all cannabinoids and terpenes will react within our bodies individually, this reaction is slightly altered when these compounds join forces in the process. 

Each terpene and cannabinoid we consume has a specific role to play in our Endocannabinoid System (ECS). When these compounds are combined, their therapeutic properties and potential simply grow strong. 

This synergizing collaboration of cannabinoids and terpenes greatly influences the intensity, duration, and character of the effects felt. This is what distinguishes broad-spectrum versus full-spectrum cannabis products – full-spectrum includes a full array of the plant’s compound profile, while broad-spectrum or isolates solely focus on one or just a few of these compounds. 

This dynamic interaction between terpenes and cannabinoids is the magic behind why different strains can offer such diverse effects. It’s not just about the THC percentage – it’s about the whole entourage, working together for a cannabis experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Next time you’re enjoying that delightful buzz from your favorite strain, you can thank the entourage effect for turning it into a full-on sensory cannabis adventure.

Shop Terpene Rich Cannabis Flower at Misty Mountain Shop Cannabis Dispensary

With the well-rounded knowledge of terpene education under your belt, you’re now ready to explore all the potent terpenes in cannabis flower! Next time you’re ready to try a new cannabis strain from our Malden cannabis dispensary, consider the following:

  • If you’re trying a new cannabis cultivar or product for the first time, be sure to assess what sensory details you can detect. 
  • Is the smell of the cannabis bud appealing? How similar or different is the flavor profile from the aroma? What effects did you feel afterward?
  • Recording and tracking the aromatic characteristics of cannabis products you try will not only help determine your desired palate of cannabis cultivars but also the therapeutic properties or effects you’re seeking from consumption.  

At Misty Mountain Shop, we’re proud to offer a wide range of quality, potent cannabis flower from the top brands in Massachusetts. Our helpful budtender team understands cannabis is complex – far more than just sativa, hybrid, or indica. We’re here to provide you access to the vast world of terpenes, offering potent flavors in cannabis cultivars for any mood or occasion you desire. Visit our dispensary in Malden and see for yourself! 

So, the next time you take a hit and savor that delightful taste, know that terpenes are doing more than just tantalizing your senses – they’re crafting a personalized cannabis adventure just for you.