What Are Terpenes and Why Do They Matter?

The word terpene has become extremely common in the cannabis world when explaining how a strain tastes or what sort of aroma it has. Did you know that terpenes are not just found in the cannabis plant? They are the most widespread group of natural compounds out there. Whether it’s pinene that gives pine trees their distinct aroma, or geraniol giving a rose it’s lovely scent, terpenes are found in every essential oil! Terpenes have developed from plants as a way to repel predators from eating them and to lure pollinators as a way to help them reproduce. The development of terpenes in any given plant is also influenced by factors like soil, climate, and weather.

Why do terpenes matter?

Speaking strictly about the cannabis plant, over 100 different terpenes have been identified, and they play a key role in differentiating the aroma and effects of each strain. Some terpenes will give the plant’s aerial parts (commonly called buds) a relaxing, sedative effect, while other terpenes will give strains an uplifting, motivating effect. Plus, they give variations to the flavor of the plant in a similar way to how different brewing methods can yield drastically different beers.

What do different terpenes do?

In the old days, saying a strain is an indica or sativa could pretty much set the bar for what to expect in terms of effect. With the crossing of genetics in modern cannabis, hybrid strains are far more common. Strains are bred for their THC and/or CBD content, appearance of the buds, and low flowering times. A plant’s terpene composition is the best tool to predict the effects that consuming it has. Some terpenes are more common than others, so let’s talk about the most common ones found in cannabis plants today.

Pinene

Pinene is found in the oils of many coniferous trees, notably the pine tree. It is also found in the oil of rosemary. The sensation of alertness or focus are common in strains containing high levels of pinene.  Short term memory retention may also be improved, and creative inspiration can be stimulated through pinene’s cerebral properties.  Pinene is also known to counteract some of the adverse effects of THC, such as paranoia. Pinene is common in strains such as Blue Dream.

Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene is found in the essential oils of clove, black pepper, and hops. It will give a spicy or peppery aroma and taste. Although caryophyllene presents no known psychoactive effects, it is widely considered to provide digestive protection, pain relief, and act as an antibacterial agent.  When using strains rich in caryophyllene one may experience a sense of calm in the gut, which may aid in treating anxiety related issues in addition to a feeling of general well-being. Caryophyllene is common in strains like Gelato and Cookies.

Limonene

Limonene is found in the oil of citrus fruit peels, particularly essential oil from oranges. Mood elevation and euphoria are typical effects from cannabis strains high in limonene, which can aid with anxiety and depression. Limonene also boasts powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Limonene is common in strains like OG Kush and Pineapple Express.

Linalool

Linalool is found in plants like mint, cinnamon, and rosewood. Relaxation and stress relief are typical in linalool rich strains.  Also known to carry anti-anxiety, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, linalool can also aid with insomnia due to its sedative nature.  Linalool has a calming effect on the body and mind, acting as a potent muscle relaxer and possible antidepressant and antipsychotic. Linalool is common in strains like Granddaddy Purp.

Myrcene

Myrcene is found in plants like thyme, lemon grass, and lavender. Potential benefits include easing the symptoms of chronic pain and inflammation. It can also have natural calming effects and help to ease anxiety and stress. Myrcene is found in strains like Tangie and Cherry Pie.

Key takeaway

As it turns out, terpenes play a major role alongside CBD in determining the effect and desired outcome of our products.