The fragrance and taste of cannabis strains are dictated by terpenes, unique compounds that work in synergy with cannabinoids to provide more of the desired results. There are many different terpenes, and they combine to create a unique profile and a complex mixture of aromas and fragrances.
In this article, we’ll cover the most common terpenes and their effects, helping you get to grips with these compounds and their uses.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are compounds that can be found in most fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and spices. They are the main constituent of essential oils and are thought to be responsible for the purported benefits of these oils.
For instance, many of the antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties of herbs like rosemary and thyme are provided by terpenes that are also present in popular cannabis strains. Some terpenes even have an antidepressant effect, while others can help with conditions such as epilepsy.
When these terpenes are combined with cannabinoids like THC and CBD, something known as the entourage effect kicks in. Basically, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or that terpenes, CBD, and THC provide more benefits in combination than they do individually.
Cannabis and Terpene Content
Terpenes are produced by the plant’s trichomes. Traditionally, they accounted for a very small percentage of the total weight of the plant, equating to approximately 1%. However, as the demand for these compounds has increased, selective breeding has boosted the average terpene content to around 4 or 5%.
What’s more is that these potent compounds are effective in very small concentrations of just 0.05%.
The Types of Cannabis Terpenes
Cannabis plants contain hundreds of terpenes, but only a small percentage of them are present in North American varieties. Some of the most common types include:
Myrcene is the most common type of terpene and accounts for between 30% and 65% on average. It has a clove-like aroma and is thought to hasten the effects of other cannabinoids, including THC. For this reason, some individuals believe that eating myrcene-containing food prior to smoking cannabis can maximize its effects.
It could indeed provide these benefits, but only if the food has an adequate concentration of this terpene.
Ripe mangoes contain this abundant terpene in high concentrations and it’s also present in herbs and spices like bay, verbena, lemongrass, and thyme.
- Blue Dream
- OG Kush
- Grape Ape
Limonene is commonly found in citrus fruits, particularly in the rinds. It has a strong citrusy aroma, a combination of oranges and lemons, and it’s thought to have antifungal properties.
In fact, plants use this compound to fight against bacteria and fungi, and it has also been studied for its apparent anti-cancer and weight-loss benefits.
- Banana OG
- Purple Hindu Kush
- Berry White
Found in pine resin and said to have an aroma of pine needles, pinene is a strong antiseptic and antibacterial and could also provide numerous other health benefits. For instance, it has anti-inflammatory properties and works as an expectorant and bronchodilator, helping to rid the body of the mucus that builds-up during a viral infection.
- Blue Dream
- Dutch Treat
- God’s Gift
- Cotton Candy Kush
- Big Smooth
With a lavender aroma, linalool provides many of the same relaxing and soothing benefits of these aromatic purple flowers. It may reduce the symptoms of anxiety associated with THC and has been extensively studied and linked to a host of calming benefits.
In addition to its sedative effects, Linalool is thought to have a unique impact on the immune system and could help to reduce inflammation.
- Amnesia Haze
- LA Confidential
- Lavender Kush
A relaxing terpene with a strong floral and pine-like aroma. It may help to promote sleep and ease anxiety, and, like other terpenes, it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.
- Royal Jack Automatic
- Pineapple Kush
- Lemon Haze
Beta-Caryophyllene is a unique terpene that produces a woody and spicy aroma and interacts with the endocannabinoid system—the only terpene to do so. When combined with a high concentration of CBD, it could be a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
Along with cannabis sativa, which contains anywhere from 3 to 37%, caryophyllene is also found in hops, basil, oregano, and black pepper.
- Bubba Kush
- Sour Diesel
- Death Star
- Cookies and Cream
Camphene has been the subject of many intriguing studies concerning heart disease, as it could help to reduce cholesterol. It is found in numerous essential oils, including the oil of camphor, ginger, valerian, and cypress.
- Strawberry Banana
- OG Kush
With elements of pepper, mint, and citrus, phellandrene creates a unique fragrance profile and has been used to treat a multitude of digestive disorders. It was first isolated from eucalyptus and is also present in ginger, cinnamon, and dill.
- Jack Herer
A beautifully sweet terpene that is responsible for imparting a light, fresh, and sweet scent. It is also found in rose oil and geranium, and it is has been used to simulate a host of sweet tastes and flowery fragrances in candies and perfumes.
- Agent Orange
- Purple Punch
- Strawberry Diesel
Humulene is present in hops and has a characteristic “hop” aroma and flavor. It is associated with many of the supposed health benefits of hops, including anti-inflammation and relaxation.
- Girl Scout Cookies
- White Widow
- Super Lemon Haze
- Bubba Kush
A pungent terpene that can irritate the lungs when consumed in large quantities. It may be responsible for the increased coughing and sinus irritation experienced with certain strains. Carene is found in turpentine, as well as numerous citrus fruits.
- Skunk XL
- Super Lemon Haze
Conclusion: Studying the Terpene Profiles
As you can see, terpenes add an extra dimension to any flower or plant. They should be considered every time you make a purchase. Of course, you don’t need to be an expert in terpenoids and their effects, but you should think about how the flavors, aromas, and properties synergize with the type of benefits that you’re looking for.