An Introduction to Terpenes – The Hidden Gems of the Cannabis Experience

If you’ve ever smelled a plant, you’ve inhaled terpenes. They’re one of the most abundant hydrocarbons found in nature – comprising over 30,000 individual types across thousands of plant species, including cannabis.

When it comes to things like aroma therapy, terpenes are what’s responsible for why these therapies work. Our bodies have co-evolved with terpene producing plants throughout our evolutionary history which makes our relationship with these tiny hydrocarbon molecules a symbiotic one.

There are a wide range of effects that terpenes have on us. They do everything from influencing feelings such as being: relaxed, excited, focused, hungry, and sleepy – to helping with physical and psychological symptoms like: pain, inflammation, immune signaling, tension, depression, anxiety and mood.

The best part, you don’t need much knowledge about them to know which ones you respond well to because as the old saying goes – the nose knows. Generally speaking, if a plant – any plant -smells good to you, that’s your queue to the terpenes in that plant being a health benefit for you.

So how does this relate to the cannabis bud experience? 

Knowing that terpenes have an effect on us, and that we can detect which ones are good for us based on how we feel when we smell them, it should no longer come as a shock that this effect carries over to how to pick the kind of cannabis that works best for you. Picking cannabis strain is the same thing as picking our favourite spices, essential oils and teas – they are all terpene based choices!

 

Common Terpenes and Buds That Contain Them – The Top 5 For Pot Smokers 

With 30,000+ terpenes found in nature, we can’t cover all of them. That being said, we can cover the 5 that you, as a marijuana smoker, should know about in order to better pick your pot. 

Note: Temperature matters with terpenes. All 5 will have a temperature you should extract them at. A dry herb vape for temp control is your best bet if you’re smoking busted up dry buds.

 

Linalool

Linalool is a floral terpene that is very common in nature and as such is far from being unique to cannabis. If you come across a purple plant on a nature walk, the odds are high that it’s a plant dominant in the Linalool terpene – although there are some exceptions to this such as birch trees, which are quite high in linalool but are not a purple colored plant.

Linalool is also the dominant terpene found in lavender – a plant known for its sedative and relaxing effects. This terpene is also responsible for why some people associate cilantro with smelling like soap. The Linalool terpene is dominant in cilantro and commonly extracted from plants to use in soap production, which gives generic body bar soap its cilantro-like smell.

As you might expect, purple cannabis strains – mostly indicas – are the highest in Linalool. 

This terpene is best for helping with anxiety, sleep disorder, and reducing pain – all effects common with indica strains. 

If you’re looking to chill, go for a weed bud that is from the “purple” strain names, and trust your nose. If it smells good and relaxes you, then you’ve found a good candidate. This terpene is best extracted in a vaporiser at 388F.

If you’re after the benefits of Linalool grab some of our Purple Kush, or Bubba Kush.

 

B-Caryophyllene

Next we have B-Caryophyllene, a terpene with a more woody and spicy profile. This is one you’re likely to find commonplace in your home kitchen. Where is it you might ask? In your spice cabinet of course! B-Caryophyllene is a terpene found in spices at high concentrations, making it easy for your nose to pick up on if something has a spicy aroma. 

Dried peppers, licorice, peppercorn, oregano, clove, cinnamon and other such spices are all high in B-Caryophyllene.

With the known effects of these listed spices being primarily anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, gastrointestinal pain relief, and muscle and joint pain relief, it stands to reason that weed buds with those listed benefits would be high in B-Caryophyllene.

Another terpene most present in indica strains, it’s best used at night, or in lower amounts over the day to control IBS, Celiac or Crohn’s symptoms, and muscle or joint pain issues. It may also be used when fighting a minor infection to help with immune signaling. 

This terpene is best extracted at 266F through vaping. If your pen only goes as low as 300F, that’s fine too.

For the benefits of B-Caryophyllene, we recommend our Girl Scout Cookie.

 

Limonene

As you might have guessed from the name, Limonene is a citrus terpene. It’s found in fruits, lemon grass, dill seed, mint, ginger and just about anything else with a sweet citrusy aroma. It’s likely another of the most dominant terpenes in your kitchen that’s been hiding right under your nose. 

Limonene is a relaxing and sleep aid terpene. We’ve all heard that a lemon-ginger tea is relaxing, even if we didn’t really understand why. The source of that relaxation is our good friend Limonene.

The positive effects of Limonene include: reducing anxiety, helping stabilize mood, reducing the symptoms of depression, and to aid with sleep by reducing cortisol levels in the blood.

The optimal temperature for extracting Limonene is 348F and is best used in states of heightened stress or just before bed. 

For high Limonene strains, we recommend Blueberry Kush, Gelato-Cake, and Rainbow Driver.

 

Pinene

Another name a little on-the-nose is the terpene Pinene. This terpene is less common within the home kitchen in contrast to the last few that we’ve listed. As the name suggests, Pinene is primarily found in pine rich forests. But it can also be found in herbs such as rosemary, and in many topical oils we use to treat skin irritations, abrasions, and muscle complaints. 

Plants such as eucalyptus, ironwort and sage are also all rich in Pinene.

This terpene differs from the others we’ve listed so far as its effects are not rooted in sedation, but rather in stimulation. Pinene helps with focus, stress reduction, energy, pain relief, and helps counteract the effects of THC induced memory loss by helping to bring the brain to a higher level of alertness.

The optimal temperature to extract Pinene is 311F and is an ideal terpene to intake earlier in the day for its focus boosting effects.

For buds high in Pinene, we recommend Rockstar Kush, Iranian, and Medi Kush.

 

Myrcene

Our final terpene on this list is Myrcene. This earthy and spicy terpene is more common in the western diet than perhaps any other on this list. It is found in high concentrations in hops – the main ingredient in beer and a close cousin of the cannabis plant. But it’s not only found in beer and cannabis, it’s also found in fruits such as mangos, and leafy spices such thyme and bay leaves.

Found in relative proportions in all cannabis strains, Myrcene is one of the key relaxing and sedating terpenes most people actively seek out when using cannabis, or even drinking a beer. 

Myrcene helps with sleep, pain relief, muscle relaxation, and mood regulation. 

Nearly all strains are relatively high in Myrcene but for the flavour profile of this terpene, we recommend Nuken, and UK Cheese.

We hope you enjoyed this overview of how terpenes affect your cannabis experience! Don’t forget to check out the varieties we’ve listed to find the buds that best suit your marijuana smoking goals!

 

Happy hunting!

 

References

Wiki References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpene

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrcene

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinene

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonene

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linalool

 

Graphic References

The www.revealcannabis.com Top 5 Terpene Reference Chart, by Andrea Meharg, 2018

 

Video References

Controlling Terpenes and Cannabinoids in Flower and Extract, Presented by Dr. Markus Roggen, Phd, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1n4OJTW0Lw&t=1705s

Terpenes in Marijuana – Explained by Dr. Jake Felice for Medical Marijuana 411, 2018,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGfHmM5Og3w