If you are familiar with Cannabis, you know that there is a variety of strains, and each have their own unique scent. A Kush strain will smell more earthy, while a Tangie is going to smell more citrusy. Terpenes are the reason for strains having their own unique aroma. Terpenes not only affect the way a strain may smell, or taste, but play a HUGE role in how a strain is going to affect you. With legalization on the rise, testing standards are now adding testing for terpenes as a requirement, which is so great, because terpene content is so important! Instead of thinking of your flower as just an Indica, or a Sativa, or a Hybrid, you really want to be looking at the terpene profile.
Terpenes are oils that, in Cannabis, are produced in the resin glands of the plant (the same location THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are produced). These oils secrete a natural aroma, and are not only found in the Cannabis plant, but can be found all over nature; in lavender, mangoes, hops, basil, cloves, pine, the list goes on! Terpenes are already being used as therapy by health practitioners and this method is known as Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is a method of healing through inhaling the scent of Essential Oils, although you can also eat or topically apply these essential oils as well. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience showed the positive effects of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils. Below is a quote from their findings:
“EEG activity, alertness, and mood were assessed in 40 adults given 3 minutes of aromatherapy using two aromas, lavender (considered a relaxing odor) or rosemary (considered a stimulating odor). Participants were also given simple math computations before and after the therapy. The lavender group showed increased beta power, suggesting increased drowsiness, they had less depressed mood (POMS) and reported feeling more relaxed and performed the math computations faster and more accurately following aromatherapy. The rosemary group, on the other hand, showed decreased frontal alpha and beta power, suggesting increased alertness. They also had lower state anxiety scores, reported feeling more relaxed and alert and they were only faster, not more accurate, at completing the math computations after the aromatherapy session.”
The two oils that they used, Lavender and Rosemary, have the same terpenes found in Cannabis; Linalool and A-Pinene. Strains that have these terpenes, have similar effects as those mentioned in the study above, funny huh? When you have a strain that’s predominant in Linalool, it’s effects will include full relaxation, anxiety relief, mental clarity, and possibly some mild sedation. When you have a strain with alpha-pinene, the effects typically include high alertness with an increased ability to focus. Since Pinene is also known to combat the paranoia, along with the short term memory loss that may be caused from THC, strains with this terpene can also provide a more relaxed, centered feeling overall.
In aromatherapy, you typically have isolated essential oils, and not a large range of variety in one mixture. When it comes to cannabis though, you can have a greater variety of terpenes (amounts vary, but you can typically find at least 3 and can go all the way up to 15, labels usually show only the top 3-5 though), which all interact with one another, and not to mention that they also interact with the Cannabinoids as well. This is actually the reason why Indica’s are generalized as more of the “In da Couch” strains, while Sativas are generalized as more of the creative, daytime strains. When in reality, it’s just the terpene combination. I’ll be creating more posts going into depth of each terpene, but I’ll give you one of the basics right now, so we can understand the idea of how Indicas, Sativas, and Hybrids get their generalized definition.
Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes found in Cannabis and is also found in mangoes, peaches, sweet basil, and hops. It has the ability to produce feelings of full body relaxation, sedation, pain relief, and also works as a regulator for other terpenes and cannabinoids, and by doing so, can basically amplify their effects. For example, it helps THC reach the brain cells, allowing for a more intense high. If you find myrcene in a flower that has a high range of THC, Beta-Pinene, and Limonene; you’ll most likely think of this flower as a Sativa or a Sativa-Dominant Hybrid, because the myrcene will have the body feeling light and relaxed, will enhance the psychoactive effects of THC, will boost beta-pinene’s ability to increase alertness and focus, and will create a happy, uplifted mood thanks to the Limonene.
If you find myrcene in a flower that has some THC and CBD, Limonene, and Linalool, you’ll probably think of this flower as an Indica, or an Indica-Dominant Hybrid. The myrcene will create a full body relaxation, will enhance the synergetic effects of THC and CBD, allowing for great pain relief, the Limonene will allow the mind to decompress and de-stress, and the Linalool will just add to the calming of the body and the mind, this combo can potentially lead to a nice sedating feel, good for sleep, or may just be a nice combination for someone looking to unwind at the end of the day.
Not only do terpenes affect the way a certain strain makes you feel, they also have huge medicinal benefits! From helping treat certain cancers to mood disorders. Learning your terpenes is the best way to be able to medicate properly. It’s important to note though, that everyone is different, and some terpenes may not suit well with your chemical composition. Instead of generalizing cannabis into just three groups (Sativa, Indica, Hybrid), and completely steering clear of one or the other, let’s become more aware of what’s in your medicine in order to truly understand what you like, and what you dislike.
Also, as much as I love the labels and knowing what is in my flower, I do believe that our body communicates with us in regards to what it needs. When it comes to terpenes, sometimes following your nose can be your best option. If a certain strains aroma is super enticing to you, then you more than likely may be needing whatever is in that flower. Cannabis is a great medicine that allows us to enhance our intuition and ability to self heal. Next time you’re at a shop picking up some flower for yourself, let your nose do the looking first, and then check the labels to see what your body is asking for at that time.