These glistening, sticky, smelly secretions of plant molecules are called terpenes and their effects can be felt by humans and animals alike. All plants seem to produce terpenes which are meant to protect them from predators. In nature, their pungent odor is usually enough to scare away likely diners but can also serve to attract pollinators. Therefore, guaranteeing the life-cycle of the plant.
Strain Specific Terpene Profile
However, when terpenes come from cannabis plants, those smelly secretions provide a syllabus of sensation. Each cannabis strain is known for having its own unique terpene profile. This feature delivers a consistent odor and effect. In fact, terpene science is so prolific that extensive diagrams (the terpene wheel) have been developed to illustrate the possible experience each terpene can provide.
Terpenes work with the cannabinoids to form a strain-specific entourage effect. The first noticeable thing about cannabis flower is how it smells. Those are the terpenes telling you it’s an uplifting experience that awaits with the citrus smell of limonene. Or, to the contrary, a floral aroma of Linalool signaling a good night of sleep.
Terpenes with Superpowers
Some terpenes are capable of making it easier for THC to cross the blood-brain barrier, therefore increasing its potency. Myrcene is a terpene that has this ability. Strains with high levels are known to result in the “couch-lock” effect. These properties have been noted as being helpful for treating symptoms associated with insomnia and diabetes.
Pinene is another terpene that has the ability to influence the chemistry of the cannabis experience. Instead of increasing the psychoactive effects of THC, Pinene acts as an inhibitor. While the “high” won’t be as strong with a Pinene dominant strain, the benefits are numerous. Pinene is known to have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It also promotes memory retention.
Terpenes and Their Effects Improve Cannabis
Terpenes are so common that their greatness is often overlooked. However, once you know a little bit about terpenes and how they can improve your cannabis experience it’s hard to deny how important they are. They are the map to help you smell your way back to relief or relaxation.
Michael Jacobs (2019, February). The Difference Between Cannabinoids and Terpenes Retrieved from https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/the-difference-between-cannabinoids-and-terpenes-311502
Canna Campus (2019, March). Terpenes Retrieved from https://mycannacampus.com/blog/f/terpenes