What Are Terpenes in Cannabis?

what are terpenes

Have you ever wondered what goes behind the pungent aromas of cannabis buds? What lurks beyond the sticky resin and into the very heart of the flavor profiles that make up some of the best-selling, and most popular hemp flowers? You’ve no doubt heard of terpenes and how they affect the bouquet of what each hemp bud will bring to its palette. But what are terpenes? 

Well, keep scrolling to discover everything you need to know about terpenes to become a cannabis connoisseur in no time!

What are Terpenes?

There are, in fact, over 100 terpenes in a cannabis plant, but over 20,000 terpenes in existence. Since terpenes compose the smell and flavor of hemp flower, with that many in just one assimilates to a profile that goes well beyond our basic understanding of why Sour Diesel or Sour Space Candy are so distinctive from each other in terms of smell. 

The gravity of how cannabis terpenes come into play for some of our favorite cannabis strains is pretty monumental. However, even with 100 terpenes in the plant, only a handful of them are in high concentrations and thereby make up the nose of the hemp flower. 

What are the terpenes in cannabis? 

These are the main ones that create those potent aromas:

  1. Myrcene: a powerful antioxidant and the main terpene in cannabis plants, sometimes making up over 50% of the total terpenes of a single hemp flower. It also determines if a cannabis strain will be an Indica or Sativa.
    For instance, if a cannabis plant has more than 0.5% myrcene, it’s an Indica strain since this terpene is what delivers the “couchlock” effect of deep relaxation for both body and mind! Sativa-dominant strains will have less than 0.5% myrcene. 
    The flavor profile from myrcene is peppery, earthy, and musky. It’s what gives cannabis strains their unique flavor and aroma, after all. It’s found even in herbs like basil, hops, and thyme, as well as lemongrass, eucalyptus, and ylang-ylang – even mangoes!
    Myrcene has anti-inflammatory properties and can offer pain relief as well, though remember that terpenes are genetic makeup for cannabis, and the potency of each terpene is minute compared to the concentration levels of them when isolated away from their structure within hemp plants. 
  1. Limonene: the second most abundant terpene found in cannabis, it’s the reason for any citrus or zesty aromas found in hemp buds. It naturally occurs in the rinds of lemons, oranges, and limes, as well as in rosemary, pine, mint, and fennel. This terpene can be utilized for a variety of uses like citrus-based household cleaners, beauty products, and even as an organic herbicide and paint stripper.
    Limonene is responsible for lowering anxiety, inflammation, and pain, with new research delving into its ability as an antimicrobial agent.
  2. Pinene: if its name didn’t give it away, pinene has a pine tree aroma and is one of the lower concentrations of terpenes in cannabis. Basil, dill, parsley, pine nuts, and pine needles all contain pinene, as well as cannabis plants. It’s used in many insect repellants since the scent is known to deter bugs.
    When it comes to therapeutic benefits, pinene is one of the highest, even if it’s not a prevalent terpene when you count the full percentages of each, collectively. Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, anti-cancer, and respiratory aid as a bronchodilator (allows more air into the lungs) are all benefits of the terpene pinene!
  3. Humulene: found also in sage, hops (the key component to the smell and bitterness of beer), and ginseng, this moderate count terpene is best known to help prevent allergies and reduce the severity of asthma, while also possibly guard against cancer.
  4. Linalool: if you love lavender, then you love linalool, since the scent stems from this terpene! Any floral, woodsy, or spicy aroma in hemp flower is from linalool as well. It’s used in many beauty, skin care (vitamin E is a byproduct of this terpene), and household products, including insecticides.
    The calming effects of aromatherapy and cannabis are thanks to linalool, while also offering a multitude of other benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, antidepressant, anticancer, and anti-anxiety.
  5. Caryophyllene: who doesn’t love those herbal spicy hints of wood, cinnamon, black pepper, clove, and hops? This terpene has a hand in those profiles, not to mention, citrus or spicy flavored chewing gum! The best part about this terpene is the promising effects, to the likes of being a sedative to promote better sleep, anticancer/analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and one hell of an antioxidant

While each terpene offers its own benefits, the Entourage Effect certainly comes into play with terpenoids. The stacking levels of each one boosts the sibling benefits and helps make their effects more concrete together, rather than alone. Considering the therapeutic value of terpenes, they also have a role in tempering the intoxicating effects of THC and the synergy of phytocannabinoids to deliver such beneficial results.

When you break down terpenes like this, you discover just how many components are layered into the delivery of cannabis when ingested, dabbed, vaporized, or smoked.

Diving further down, trichomes are the foundation for terpene production from its resin glands, which is also what makes cannabinoids too. And while we’re at it, is there a difference between terpenes and terpenoids? Yes, but only in that terpenes are hydrocarbons (compounds made of hydrogen and carbon) and when cannabis is dried and cured, those atoms are oxidized and become terpenoids. 

So, in essence, you can’t have one without the other. 

The Aromas of Cannabis

Do terpenes determine what type of cannabis to choose? Yes and no. Ultimately, our nose knows and our body and brain work together to subconsciously offer a preference to a particular terpene profile. The dank odors can change as easily as filters on Snapchat depending on what best suits your needs for that given day or reason for reaching for some hemp-derived product. 

  • Skunk
  • Diesel 
  • Piney
  • Grassy 
  • Fruity
  • Sour
  • Woodsy
  • Cheesy
  • Peppery
  • Earthy
  • Sweet
  • Floral
  • Musky

All of these terms refer to terpenes! 

Now when you think what are terpenes, you’ll know that the aroma of different strains is just that, and you might even give your dispensary a run for their money with your knowledge-base about them now! For the best aromatic and effective cannabis products, be sure to check out D8 THC Shop’s full selection of CBD, CBG, and Delta 8 flower, carts, pre-rolls, gummies, and more!

You’ll be Flying on the Perfect High (with the right terpene profiles).

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