What Are Terpenes
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds, or smells and flavors, that plants emit. These volatile aromatic molecules can also be classified as essential oils and are the foundation of aromatherapy. Terpenes are an important element of what cannabis offers and can help determine how a strain will affect you.
There are two ways to determine the terpenes in a particular strain; by smell, which can be helpful but not precise, or if a terpene profile is provided by the lab testing and approving the flower for distribution.
Below are some of the terpenes offered by cannabis plants including their smell and effects.
Known as the Indica terpene, Myrcene is found in hops, lemongrass and eucalyptus. It is a sedative and helps cannabinoids better bind to receptors.
Smelling of lemons and citrus, Limonene is a parent compound for other terpenes. When combined with cannabinoids it's known to elevate mood, help with GI issues and help with certain cancers.
Found in rosemary and pine, Alpha Pinene is an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, an ACE inhibitor and at low levels a bronchodilator.
The most abundant compound released by forest trees, Beta Pinene is an anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-microbial.
One of the essential oils found in lavender, Linalool is a strong anticonvulsant, anti-anxiety with some broad spectrum anti-cancer properties. Great on burns, cold sores and shingles it's extremely low risk on sensitive skin.
Alpha Caryophyllene (Humulene)
Also found in hops, Humulene is being studied for its anti-inflammatory effects. When dogs smell for drugs, this is what they are smelling.
Also found in black pepper, Beta-Caryophyllene is a CB2 agonist all on its own. Meaning it works independently so it does not need cannabinoids to be effective. Its main benefit is to combat inflammation. Much research is being done with many products to come.
Terpenoids drive the smell and flavor in a strain and can influence the effect that strain delivers. But the only way to know for sure which terpenes reside in a strain is to have it analyzed to get it's terpene profile. Ask your dispensary if they offer terpene profiles for their strains to help make your selection and, if not, ask them to do so.