Legal marijuana has allowed for a lot more study of cannabis. As a result, agents from medical Arizona dispensaries to recreational ones in California are talking more and more about the compounds that give each strain its unique taste, feel, and effect. One of the terms you are probably hearing more is “terpenes.” What does this mean and how do they figure into the differences between one strain and another?
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are found in all sorts of plants. When people talk about them, though, they are usually discussing the ones found in cannabis. Cannabis plants contain high concentrations of these compounds, and they give cannabis its characteristic scents.
In nature, terpenes are used by plants to protect against infectious microbes or to keep animals from grazing on their leaves. There’s some evidence that, when people consume different terpenes, they may get some health benefits along with some enjoyment.
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Which terpenes are most common?
Each strain of marijuana you find in a dispensary will have a different combination of terpenes that give it a distinct scent and taste. There are over 200 identified terpenes, and their aromas and effects change when they are in combination with each other.
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis plants. The quantities of this terpene found in different strains is highly related to whether it will behave more like a sativa or an indica. The higher the myrcene, the more likely the strain is to produce sedative, relaxing effects.
Pinene, like the name suggests, lends piney aromas to cannabis. Preliminary research seems to indicate that this terpene may reduce inflammation and can help with respiratory conditions.
Geraniol is sweet and fruity. Some people detect notes of fresh-mown grass or blooming flowers in its scent. Many people consider it an antioxidant. This terpene also shows up in aromatic bath and body products.
Humulene is a terpene that also shows up in large quantities in hops, which give beers their aromatic and earthy notes. There is some research that indicates that this terpene can help people regulate their appetites. It may also have antibacterial effects and may even help with shrinking tumors.
Limonene is found in citrus as well as cannabis and gives strains with large quantities a lemony and fresh smell. This terpene is said to have a mood-elevating benefit and to enhance the euphoric effects of marijuana’s high.
Linalool is the last of the six most common terpenes, but it is the one that contributes the aroma most of us most closely associate with the smell of cannabis. This terpene is one that many say helps fight anxiety and depression. It offers relaxing benefits. What’s more, a pilot study suggests that it might be helpful in fighting the memory loss and cognitive problems that are caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
These are just a few of the terpenes that occur naturally in cannabis. Many cannabis cultivators are working on new hybrids to offer more and different terpene blends. There are also terpene extracts that can be added to edibles, concentrates and more to create a custom blend. Talk to an experienced budtender to learn how to create a signature combination that offers the flavor, aroma and effects that you are looking for.
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Discussing terpenes at the dispensary
When you purchase cannabis at a dispensary, whether it’s in Arizona, California or somewhere else, your budtender should be able to tell you about a strain’s terpenes and its effects. When you go, discuss with them the sorts of experiences you are looking for. If you want a weed strain that is relaxing and good for battling insomnia, they can recommend a terpene mix that fits that. They can also help you find the perfect strain for pain relief, focus and energy or whatever other effect you are looking for.
The more we are able to research the effects of different cannabis strains, the more we’ll learn about how the different compounds in the plant can affect your mood, your energy levels, and even your general health. Many dispensary workers stay on top of developing science, so they can help you understand more about the different possibilities different compound combinations can bring.