Have you ever wondered why the strain Granddaddy Purple is purple or why Lemon Haze smells like citrus? If you guessed “terpenes,” then you would be correct. What exactly is a terpene?
Any one of a class of unsaturated hydrocarbons that are found in the essential oils of many different plants. Their molecules contain isoprene units and have the formula C10 H6.
Practically speaking, the terpenes in the cannabis plant give your favorite strains of medical cannabis its color, odor and flavor. They are the essential oils secreted by trichomes that also produce THC and CBD. They also provide a lot of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Terpenes bind to the same receptor sites in the brain as does THC and they act to control how much THC passes through the blood-brain barrier. Terpenes evolved for adaptive purposes. They repel predators, attract pollinators and protect the plant from the elements such as high winds and UV rays. Pretty amazing, eh?
If you are familiar with the term, the Entourage Effect, you will be aware that using the entire cannabis plant provides the most medicinal benefits. Synergistically, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Terpenes interact with hundreds of cannabinoids, as well as flavonoids, to help relieve stress, promote focus, induce sleep or elevate mood. Although over 100 different cannabis terpenes have been identified, the 5 most common are the following:
1. Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Pinene
Pine trees, as you would expect. It aids in alertness, memory and counteracts some psychotropic effects. It is also found in pine needles, rosemary, basil, dill and parsley.
Medicinal benefits: Controls asthma, antiseptic, bronchodilator
Strains: Jack Herer, Bubba Kush, Chemdawg, Trainwreck
Yup, citrus. It elevates moods and relieves stress.
It is found in fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper and peppermint.
Medicinal benefits: Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic,
mood enhancer, treats gastric problems, dissolves gallstones, treats depression.
Strains: OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Jack the Ripper, Lemon Skunk, it most often appears in Sativas
Musky, earthy, and smells most like cloves with a hint of citrus and tropical fruit. Found in mango, lemongrass, thyme and hops.
Medicinal benefits: Sedating, relaxing, “couchlock.”
Strains: Pure Kush, El Nino, White Widow
Floral and citrus with an aroma of lavender. Found in Lavender.
Medicinal benefits: Sedating, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant and good for acne relief
Strains: G-13, Amnesia Haze, Lavender, LA Confidential
Peppery, spicy, woody, cloves. Found in black pepper, cloves and cotton.
Medicinal benefits: Anti-inflammatory, gastric friendly, relieves symptoms of arthritis, ulcers and auto-immune disorders
Strains: Hash Plant
If this post has piqued your interest in terpenes, you may want to investigate them further.