Last time we talked about the differences between indica and sativa cannabis species, or frankly their lack there of, and how each strain produces an effect as individual as its user – which has brought us to the broader conversation of terpenes!
Terpenes Defined: Terpenes are aromatic molecules responsible for the aromas and flavors we experience when we consume cannabis (and other smelly stuff). Terpenes are formed inside cannabis trichomes (aka sticky-icky crystals) and each cannabis strain has its own unique smell due to its distinctive terpene profile. There are over one hundred different terpenes identified in the cannabis plant and every strain has its own unique terpene composition. Awesome, right?
Just like other strong-smelling plants and flowers, the development of terpenes in cannabis began with the purpose of repelling predators and luring pollinators – there are many factors that influence a plant’s development of terpenes such as strain, climate, weather, age, maturity, soil, fertilizers, and even the given time of day – and it is believed that terpenes play a key role in distinguishing the possible effects of various cannabis strains.
Here are a few common terpenes you can expect to see in your cannabis profiles: Myrcene: Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis today and is often believed to promote calming effects; you can find myrcene in mango, hops, and lemongrass – and cannabis strains such as Tangerine Dream and Hindu Kush.
Terpinolene: Terpinolene is found in plenty of cannabis strains, but it’s usually only in small amounts, and is thought to have uplifting effects; you can find terpinolene in sage, nutmeg, and lilac – and cannabis strains such as Jean Guy and White Widow.
Pinene: Pinene is thought to be the most common terpene in the natural world and is it may be useful for inflammation, pain, and even anxiety; you can find pinene in pine needles, rosemary, and basil – and cannabis strains such as Blue Dream and White Rhino.
Linalool: Linalool is common in over two hundred different kinds of non-cannabis plants and is believed to promote relaxation; you can find linalool in lavender, rosewood, and birch bark – and cannabis strains such as Afghani and Banana Split.
Limonene: Limonene has a history in medicine and is thought by some to provide anxiety and stress relief; you can find limonene in citrus, peppermint, and juniper – and cannabis strains such as Pink Kush and Sensi Star.
Caryophyllene: Caryophyllene is the only terpene proven to act as a cannabinoid, as it can activate the endocannabinoid system (we’ll get into this next time), providing anti-inflammatory effects and is what contributes to the spiciness of black pepper; you can find caryophyllene in cloves, black pepper, and cinnamon – and cannabis strains such as Wappa and Sour Kush.
So what is a cannabinoid, how’s it different then a CBD (cannabidiol), and what does any of this have to do with my endocannabinoid system? I’ll guide you through that, and much more, on our next Cannabis Corner.
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Serena Neumerschitsky is Co-Founder and President of North Island Cannabis, Vancouver Island’s first licensed non-medical cannabis retailer – and Owner and Principal Consultant of SEA45 Compliance, Consult & Creative, a studio focusing on world-class cannabis companies that want to communicate personality and philosophy