cannabis on hand
True cannabis connoisseurs pay a lot of attention to terpene profiles – and for good reason.

There’s a reason you may find yourself sticking your nose into a container of recently purchased cannabis and breathing deep.

Those tasty aromas wafting off a freshly cured cannabis flower may smell like sweet blueberries, fresh pine trees, funky cheese, or many other delightful combinations. The experience is second only to smoking or vaping it.

The distinct smell of each strain is caused by a combination of the cannabis flower’s terpenes, which also have a direct effect on the mental and physical experience you’ll have after consuming the plant.

Given how different each strain can be, it’s beneficial for every cannabis consumer to know the basics of terpenes before they make their choice. It can help direct your cannabis experience for the best results. 

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are essential oils that exist in all kinds of plants. Volatile substances, terpenes evaporate easily and are responsible for each plant’s specific aroma. They’re what waft off of pine needles that gives them their woodsy, piney smell, oranges their citrusy smell, and lavender its sweet, fresh fragrance.

In cannabis, terpenes are made along with cannabinoids such as CBD and THC inside the plant’s trichomes. Trichomes are the mushroom-shaped, crystalline hairs covering the leaves and buds of the cannabis plant. 

There are over 100 different identified terpenes in the cannabis plant, each with their own specific effects on a cannabis consumer’s brain and body.

How Do Terpenes Affect You?

terpenes effect
Terpenes are a big part of the equation when scrutinizing the effects of your cannabis.

The particular flavor and scent of a cannabis strain are determined by its terpene profile, which also directly correlates how each strain will affect a consumer.

Some terpenes, such as ones with a floral, citrusy taste, can promote relaxation and stress relief. Others that have a more piney, woodsy taste may boost energy or improve concentration.

The physical or mental effects of any one terpene can change in the presence of other terpenes or cannabinoids in what is known as the “entourage effect.”

While this can make it difficult to predict exactly what effect a specific cannabis strain may have on the individual consuming it, understanding the different terpenes and their benefits provides a good general idea of how each strain may affect you. 

What Are the Main Terpenes in Cannabis?

While there are over 100 terpenes identified in cannabis so far, there are 6 common ones whose effects are best understood.

Each cannabis consumer’s interaction with terpenes and cannabinoids can result in a different effect and there is a lot of research yet to be done. However, the following terpenes and their effects are the most widely experienced.

Limonene

  • Aroma:
    • Citrus
    • Orange
    • Lemon
  • Effects:
    • Improves mood
    • Relieves stress
  • Medical Benefits:
    • Anti-anxiety
    • Anti-depressant
    • Anti-fungal
    • Relieves nausea
    • Calms gastric reflux

Pinene

  • Aroma:
    • Pine
    • Fresh mountain air
    • Slightly woody
  • Effects:
    • Boosts energy
    • Improves concentration
    • Enhances memory
  • Medical Benefits:
    • Opens breathing pathways
    • Anti-inflammatory

Myrcene

  • Aroma:
    • Musky
    • Herbal
    • Metallic
  • Effects:
    • Improves relaxation
    • Assists with sleep
  • Medical Benefits:
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Muscle relaxant
    • Pain relief

Linalool:

  • Aroma:
    • Floral
    • Sweet
  • Effects:
    • Calming
  • Medical Benefits:
    • Anti-anxiety
    • Anti-depressant
    • Assists with sleep
    • Pain relief
    • Anti-bacterial

B-Caryophyllene:

  • Aroma:
    • Spice
    • Woody
    • Peppery
  • Effects:
    • Soothes stress
  • Medical Benefits:
    • Antiseptic
    • Antifungal
    • Antibacterial
    • Analgesic
    • Anti-tumor

Humulene:

  • Aroma:
    • Woody
    • Earthy
    • Herbal
    • Spice
  • Effects:
    • Appetite suppressant
  • Medical Benefits:
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Anti-bacterial
    • Pain relief

How to Find the Right Strain for You

selecting cannabis buds
When trying out new strains and products, consider keeping a journal to help you track dosage amount, effects, time of day, etc...

The full effects of terpenes are still being researched by scientists, so your best bet is to start with the terpenes that smell best to you or seem to have the most desirable effects on paper and go from there.

When choosing a strain based on terpenes, it can be helpful to look over the lab testing results. These should list the terpene percentages in each strain.

Keep in mind that different harvests of the same strain of cannabis can have widely varied terpene profiles due to variances in the growing and curing techniques.

Familiarity with terpene profiles will also help you find an alternate strain when your favorite strain isn't available.

Budtenders are always a great resource for this, since they may have either sampled the strain themselves or will have gotten feedback from customers who have.

If all else fails, you can always follow your nose. If a strain smells good to you, that may be nature’s way of telling you that you’ve found your match.


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