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What are Cannabis Terpenes and Why Do They Matter?

Cannabis Terpenes

For the recreational cannabis connoisseur, understanding which cannabis terpenes are most beneficial can help them achieve the ultimate experience.  For the strictly medicinal cannabis user, selecting a strain with the right terpene profiles will provide the expected benefits without any unwanted side effects.  For the marijuana newbie or the occasional user, learning about which terpenes interact best with their own body’s chemistry can be nothing short of enlightening.  Not convinced yet that terpenes are worth knowing about?  For the recreational user, have you ever purchased that “perfect” strain, you know the one that promises so much, all your friends love it and the THC percentage is north of 30% only to wonder if you bought a bad batch or if your tolerance is past peak?  It happens more often than you may think and rather than continue your quest blindly, take some time to understand which cannabis terpenes work for you.

So what exactly are terpenes?  Broadly speaking terpenes are present in almost all plants and are what gives that plant its aroma and flavor.  Think Lavender or Rosemary.  Now back to the important plant.  Terpenes in cannabis are formed within the little hairs (trichomes) of the cannabis buds.  What terpene profile a strain has is determined by both the spectrum and intensity of light during the growing process.  Terpenes, besides giving marijuana it’s smell and flavor interact with the cannabinoids, THC and CBD, to produce the overall effect for the user. This full cannabis plant interaction is known as the “entourage effect”.  Terpenes can strengthen or weaken the cannabinoids in a strain so knowing which ones matter to you is crucial to achieving your cannabis consumption goals.

Two important considerations before we explore the most prevalent cannabis terpenes.  There are well over 100 cannabis terpenes in cannabis and more are being discovered all the time so for today we will focus on the five most significant.  Second, carbonization essentially destroys terpenes in cannabis as well as the cannabinoids so if you are using a vaporizer with temperature control, do some research first so you keep the temperature optimal for not just the cannabinoids but the terpenes as well.  Different terpenes remain stable at different temperatures.  Now on to the five key terpenes.

Alpha Pinene

For this terpene, the name says it all, pine.  The aroma of pine, and well the flavor too for those so inclined is key to this terpenes profile.  This terpene is found in some sativa and sativa dominant hybrids.  Big strain names you may recognize are Jack Herer, Bluedream and Chemdawg.  Strains with Alpha Pinene help with focus and memory.  Students over 21, this terpene is your friend!  Other pretty amazing benefits are that it is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial terpene.

Linalool

Feeling anxious, stressed, in need of some relaxation and sleep?  Welcome to the power of the Linalool terpene.  Mostly found in Indicas and Indica dominant hybrids, think LA Confidential and Amnesia Haze when it comes to typical Linalool strains.  Interestingly this terpene is also found in cotton and linen.  Maybe that explains the relaxation aroma.  For those prone to seizures, this terpene has anti-epileptic properties and is also an analgesic (pain killer).  Impressive!

Myrcene

So you have found the perfect Netflix series are now you need the perfect cannabis accompaniment.  Found in strains considered to be fairly balanced hybrids and a big contributor to the sometimes requested “couch lock” effect is the slightly earthy, a little fruity Myrcene terpene.  If you are a fan of any pure Kush strains, you are already a fan of this terpene.  Some classic strains include White Widow and Granddaddy Purple.  This terpene profile includes spectacular benefits.  It’s an analgesic, a muscle relaxant and has antibiotic properties.

Beta Caryophyllene

This is a happy terpene.  With a spicy, sometimes peppery aroma and taste, Beta Caryophyllene is one of the most sought after cannabis terpenes for true hybrid fans.  Some of the most well-known strains are Bubba Kush and the very popular Girl Scout Cookies.  Recommended by cannabis users with PTSD, depression or for anyone who just wants a little slice of happiness with a pinch of euphoria.  Major benefits include its antioxidant, anti-anxiety antidepressant properties. This one really handles all the unwanted “antis”.

Limonene

Once again, the aroma and flavor profile is in the name, just spelled a bit differently.  This is a citrus based terpene and is one of the key components of the talkative, social and energetic high.  This one is for true Sativa lovers.  Not much chance of couch lock with this terpene.  Strains that you have probably heard of are Lemon Haze and Sour Diesel.  Not surprisingly, this terpene helps to improve your mood and really who doesn’t want that?  Other benefits include anti-anxiety and immune system booster properties.

Improve your cannabis experience exponentially by improving your cannabis terpenes knowledge.