What are terpenes and why should you consider them when shopping for cannabis?
You may be drawn to high THC or it might be that you choose cannabis flower based on the aromas. But what are terpenes and why should you be choosing cannabis based on them? You’ll have to keep reading to find out…
Our friend Mary Jane can tell you a lot about herself, but you will have to listen intently, with your nose. She speaks not with words but with Terpenes! – Travis Shrum
My name is Travis. I’m Health + Happiness Consultant at Solful, Sonoma County’s premier cannabis dispensary, and I love terpenes. So what are terpenes and why do we think they’re so amazing? Terpenes are bio-active aromatic molecules found in cannabis and all over nature. Terpenes are produced in trichomes, the sticky glandular stalks that coat flowers. These sticky trichomes are responsible for the “frosty” appearance found on cannabis buds. Trichomes also contain cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
Terpenes are the aromatherapy of cannabis!
Some cannabis strains make you feel energized and creative while other types make you sleepy and tranquil. Have you ever wondered why that is? Terpenes! Put simply, since each terpene is different each one will have a different effect on your body. But what makes terpenes elicit these different responses from your body? Think about your most recent visit to Solful and that exciting moment when a Health + Happiness Consultant, maybe it was even me, opened a flower jar for you. The flower released its unique profile of terpenes into the air which was analyzed by your nose and as a result, you felt a sensation.
Take the terpene linalool, if you smell a strain high in linalool it may be reminiscent of lavender which can have a calming effect… similar to lavender essential oil. Terpenes are the aromatherapy of cannabis, isn’t that fascinating?!
Learning this nuanced chemical language can be challenging, but just like someone studying to become a sommelier or learning to pick out toasted oak and dark fruit flavors in wine, it simply takes practice. Don’t worry, because the quizzes are open book. You just have to find a cannabis dispensary that focuses on terpenes, like Solful. At Solful we provide profiles showing the levels of the most abundant terpenes found in specific cannabis strains. And if you want to know more, just ask!
Why are terpenes important?
Cannabis uses these terpenes as an advantage in nature to ward off predators and attract pollinators. Cannabis produces over a hundred varieties of terpenes. For us humans, these molecules provide a beneficial biological attraction to plants. Go back to the caveman days, and this biological attraction naturally led us to plants that were safe to consume and steered us away from those that weren’t.
Each terpene provides unique aromas and physiological effects. The synergistic combination of terpenes and cannabinoids is credited with the many therapeutic properties in cannabis. This synergistic combination is known as “The Entourage Effect”.
What is the “Entourage Effect”?
You can learn about the “Entourage Effect” in the Solful Field Guide! Our friends at Kiva Confections also did a great job of breaking down the “Entourage Effect” so we’ll let them explain it.
Cannabis contains several hundred compounds, including dozens of minor cannabinoids, various flavanoids, and terpenes. While many of these compounds have specific healing attributes, it is believed that when combined the theraputic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its single-molecule parts.
Can’t wait to smell terpenes?
Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis are likely hanging out in your kitchen or garden.
Zest a lemon and you will quickly be greeted by limonene, a terpene known for its stress-relieving properties. Many people find that limonene also has mood-enhancing benefits. Limonene is often found in uplifting cannabis varieties.
Cut open a ripe Mango and take in the earthy sweet fruit containing the terpene myrcene. This terpene is credited with the notorious couch-lock effect experienced with certain types of cannabis.
TRAVIS’ TERPENE TIP: If you buy high THC cannabis you’ll love myrcene. It’s believed that myrcene enhances our ability to take in THC allowing us to reach higher levels of elevation without higher levels of THC! As a result if you’re looking to get “high” you should be looking for cannabis strains high in myrcene.
Crack some black pepper to release another fascinating terpene, beta-caryophyllene. It has been discovered that beta-caryophyllene seems to interact with the endocannabinoid system on its own, so it shows great promise as an anti-inflammatory agent and a dampener of anxiety.
Want more terpenes?
Let’s keep talking! Introducing, Talking Terpenes, a monthly installment all about the world of terpenes. Each month I will be highlighting a specific terpene and teaching you all about its tastes and effects. I’ll be sharing recipes, shaking up “cocktails”, and filling your mind with cannabis knowledge. And together we will constantly be answering “what are terpenes” because the next time you’re browsing the flower wall, I want you to be talking terpenes.
I’m Travis… and I love terpenes!
About The Author: Travis Shrum
Travis became fascinated with cannabis after experiencing firsthand how it increased his happiness and improved his health. An Oregon native, Travis was so interested in the benefits of cannabis that he moved to California to attend Oaksterdam University. While at Oaksterdam, Travis engulfed himself in cannabis studies, particularly those that focused on the science behind the plant.
Travis is now able to share what he learned at Oaksterdam every day through his work with Solful. As a Health + Happiness Consultant Travis works closely with guests to educate them on this dynamic plant. He’s excited to be a thought leader in this emerging industry and sincerely enjoys sharing his knowledge.
Plus, he loves smoking really good pot.