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August 29, 2022 0 Comments

Cannabis Terpenes and Their Effect

You may know that Indica and Sativa are different strains of marijuana. And you may know that cannabinoids are the different compounds — like CBD or THC — found in marijuana. But you might not know that terpenes, also called “terps” or “terpenoids”, are yet another compound found in marijuana. In this article, we’ll explain what terpenes are, how they work, and what the most common terpenes are called. 

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants and some animals. They’re responsible for the aromas, flavors, and even colors associated with various types of vegetation. In terms of cannabis, terpenes are what make certain strains smell or taste different from others.

Nearly all plants contain terpenes. It’s what gives them their aroma and flavor. And, like aroma therapy, some say terpenes offer some therapeutic effects. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, some marijuana terpenes are mingled with other plant terpenes to produce products that claim to provide various effects such as anti-anxiety and relaxation or antibacterial and anti-inflammatory blends. 

What do terpenes do?

There are still many questions about how terpenes work in the human body but anecdotal reports and new research show that terpenes can be a way to classify cannabis and predict its effects. The train of thought is that the dominant terpenes of a strain work in tandem with the cannabinoid content (the amount of THC, CBD, etc.) to produce effects people associate with different strains. This may explain why two different strains with the same amount of THC produce two different effects.

And while, on their own, terpenes don’t produce a psychoactive effect, they are thought to impact THC in the body and, thus, can assist in what effect is produced.

However, possibly the most important part of what recent research is revealing is that compounds, cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and the entire plant — when used in certain combinations — can be more powerful and have a broader range of treatments than just a single cannabinoid alone. This is called The Entourage Effect and allows synergistic interactions for different effects. Evidence to support this can be seen in the use of broad-spectrum CBD products, which contain terpenes and other cannabinoids in addition to CBD and even a very small amount of THC.

Some common terpenes

There are around 400 terpenes in cannabis but there are only a few of those that actually have been shown to provide any specific effects. Following are some of the terpenes you might find referenced in your marijuana products.

  1. Beta-caryophyllene. A major ingredient in cloves, rosemary, and hops. Could be beneficial for managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also found in black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and spices like oregano, basil, and rosemary. Strains containing caryophyllene include Super Silver Haze, Skywalker, and Rock Star.
  3. Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene. The smell of beta-pinene can be found in conifer trees such as pines and fir trees, which could also potentially have both anti-depressant and anti-cancer properties and may help improve respiratory function. In some cases, this terpene can actually help with symptoms of asthma as well. Other plants with these terpenes include orange peels, parsley, and rosemary.
  5. Humulene. This terpene is found in ginseng, which has long been used in folk medicine for energizing effects. It can also be found in hops, cloves, sage, and black pepper. Research has shown humulene to be anti-proliferative (prevents cancer cells from growing), and can be effective in suppressing appetite, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain. Look for it in stains like White Willow, Headband, Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel, Pink Kush, and Skywalker OG.
  7. Limonene. The second most abundant terpene found in cannabis, limonene has distinct citrus notes and may potentially have anti-cancer properties. In mice, it’s been shown to have anti-anxiety properties. Strains that have “lemon” or “sour” in their name usually contain limonene.
  9. Linalool. Lovers of lavender as aromatherapy may want to seek out cannabis with linalool, which may help alleviate stress. This is the terpene responsible for the easily recognizable smell of marijuana. Besides lavender, linalool can also be found in cinnamon, mint, and coriander. Some well-known linalool strains include Amnesia Haze, Special Kush, and OG Shark.
  11. Myrcene. Found in cannabis and mangoes, myrcene has antifungal and antibacterial properties and could also have sedating effects. This is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis. Strains rich in myrcene include Skunk XL and Special Kush.
  13. Alpha-bisabolol. Also known as levomenol and bisabolol, the terpene has a floral aroma and can also be found in chamomile flowers and candela trees. Can be effective as an anti-bacterial in treating wounds and infections. Common strains include Harle-Tsu, Pink Kush, Headband, OG Shark, and ACDC.
  15. Trans-nerolido. Found in flowers like jasmine, lemongrass, and tea tree oil, this terpene is best known for its use as an anti-parasitic, antioxidant, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial. Island Jack Herer, Sweet Skunk, and Skywalker OG are rich in nerolidol.
  17. Eucalyptol. This is the primary terpene in the eucalyptus tree. Smells minty with cool tones. Very small amounts are found in some cannabis. Eucalyptol can relieve pain and also slows the growth of bacteria and fungus. Look for it in Super Silver Haze and Headband strains.
  19. Terpineol. The aroma of this terpene is floral, like lilacs with a touch of citrus. It causes deep relaxation and can serve as an antibiotic and antioxidant. It can be found in strains like Girl Scout Cookies, Jack Herer, and OG Kush.
Top 5 Terpenes in Weed

Where are they listed?

If you have the packaging that the product you purchased at your medical marijuana dispensary came in, you should see the ingredients listed on the box or pouch. The dispensary pharmacist can review which terpenes, if any, are in your medication. Be aware that, since medical marijuana in Louisiana is a new industry, there are still some variations in product potency and cannabinoid amounts. Work with the pharmacist or cannabis specialist at your dispensary to find the best combination for you. In the meantime, if you’re ready to get started on your Healing Journey, click the button below.