What Are Cannabis Terpenes?

The smell of cannabis is unmistakable, and if you are an experienced user, you can even tell apart strains by taking a whiff. But have you ever wondered how your favourite strains get the diverse flavours and aromas? It’s because of natural compounds known as terpenes. 

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are typically associated with cannabis, and although it’s where their benefits are most appreciated, terpenes can be found in many plants and some animals.

This article looks at terpenes, what they are used for, the benefits, and the best terpenes.

Woman smelling her cannabis plants in garden. what are terpenes and why are they important to weed?

What Are Terpenes In Weed?

The cannabis plant has over 500 compounds, which include cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. All these compounds influence the effects of weed and have their own benefits. What are terpenes and terpenoids?

Terpenes are highly aromatic organic hydrocarbons responsible for the smell of many plants and herbs, and some insects. In cannabis, they are responsible for the unmistakable scent that usually acts as a preview of the effects to come, and most smokers are in love with.

However, they are not unique to cannabis. They are present in most aromatic plants, including common fruits and vegetables. There are over 30,000 terpenes, of which about 100 have been identified in cannabis.

What are plant terpenes used for? These compounds play a vital role in plants. In cannabis, they play a protective role, stopping herbivores and insects from feeding on the plant. They may also act as part of the plants’ defense system to keep away infectious organisms and help recover from damage. 

Terpenoids are synthesized inside the glandular trichomes – which are the shiny and sticky crystals that cover cannabis leaves and buds. Trichomes are also responsible for secreting cannabinoids, including THC, which is responsible for the high.

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What Are Terpenes And Terpenoids?

Terpenes and terpenoids are two words that are often used interchangeably but have different meanings. 

Terpene refers to the natural form of these hydrocarbons as they occur in the live plant. As the plant dries and cures, the terpenes oxidize and become terpenoids.

Are Terpenes In Weed Safe?

Because of what terpenes are used for, the question of their safety comes up often. They are safe for human consumption. They are not psychoactive, meaning they won’t cause a high or affect your mental processes.

All plants have terpenoids, and you consume them almost daily. Whether it’s from flagrant indoor plants, flowers, or the citrusy scent of your fruit, terpenes are part of our lives, and they have been used for centuries for various reasons.

Terpenoids are not only safe to use, but they also have their benefits. 

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Different Types Of Terpenoids

There are different types of terpenes, classified by their source and how they are obtained or made. 

What Are Organic Terpenes?

These are naturally occurring terpenes obtained from plants. Organic terpenoids can further be grouped into two; Cannabis-derived terpenoids (CDTs) and botanically derived terpenoids (BDTs).

1. Cannabis-derived Terpenes (CDTs)

These are the kind that naturally occur in the cannabis plant or industrial hemp. Using modern technology, these can be extracted and isolated from cannabis essential oils. They can then be sold as CDTs or added to cannabis products to give them “character” or improve their effectiveness.

Each strain has a unique terpene profile that makes it different from other strains. By using terpenes from a specific strain, manufacturers can recreate the scent and effects by adding them to other products such as vapes and oils. 

CDTs can also improve the flavour and fragrance of what otherwise would be bland products such as CBD isolates and other cannabis extracts. 

While the same terpenoids can be obtained from thousands of plants, cannabis enthusiasts claim that cannabis-derived terpenes provide an authentic experience and a better entourage effect than botanical/plant-derived terps.  

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2. What Are Plant-derived Terpenes (BDTs)?

As we have already mentioned, terps are not unique to cannabis. Most of the popular cannabis terpenoids can also be found in other plants. Plant-derived terpenes, also called botanical-derived terpenes (BDTs), are terpenes obtained from other plants.

For example, limonene, which is responsible for the citrusy scent in some strains, can also be found in lemons. Pinene, which is why some strains have piney notes, can be extracted from pine and rosemary.

Manufacturers may decide to use botanical-derived terpenoids for several reasons. First, they are readily available and cost-effective to extract. They are also easy to standardize across all batches. CDTs, on the other hand, vary in concentration from plant to plant even within the same strain.

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Synthetic (Lab-created) Terpenes

These are not extracted or derived from plants; instead, they are created in a lab. One benefit of synthetic terpenes is they can be replicated accurately, resulting in standardized products. They also remove the process of growing the plants.

Synthetic terpenoids are cost-effective and available throughout the year as they aren’t affected by growing timelines or weather. That said, organic terpenoids are preferred over synthetics by people who buy legal weed in Scarborough.

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Why Are Terpenes Important?

Terpenes/terps give the cannabis plant its distinct flavours and aroma, but what are the benefits of terpenes? With cannabis, all plant constituents play an important role in its medicinal and recreational use. Terpenoids are an important part of the overall effects of weed.

Terps support other weed molecules, such as cannabinoids, in producing the desired effects. This is known as the entourage effect. Terpenes may suppress or exaggerate cannabinoids’ effects or work synergistically and enhance their therapeutic value.

On their own, terpenoids have beneficial effects and could be used as alternative medicines. For example, Myrcene, a terpene prominent in most indicas, eucalyptus, and lemongrass, is a potent pain reliever, antibiotic and has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Terps can also be used to determine the effects of a certain strain instead of the more commonplace and largely inaccurate Indica-Sativa-Hybrid classification.

Some terpenes are good for sleep, while some support uplifting effects. You should be able to walk into any legal dispensary in Scarborough and ask for the strain with the best terpenoids.

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What Are The Best Terpenoids?

Here is a list of the best terps and what they are used for:

1. Myrcene

One of the two most common terpenoids in cannabis – the other being caryophyllene. Any strain with high Mercene concentration will cause the “couch-lock” effect associated with Indicas. 

Myrcene is best known for its anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and analgesic properties. A 2015 study found that it may also slow osteoarthritis progression.

Myrcene is prominent in this Strawberry Fire OG flower from Stok’d legal dispensary in Scarborough

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2. Caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene is the other prominent terp in cannabis. It is also found in hops, cloves, and rosemary and provides an aroma associated with these plants. 

Beta-caryophyllene is the only terpenoid known to interact with the endocannabinoid system (CB2). It has been found to help relieve pain, anxiety, and ulcers.

Beta-Caryophyllene is the prominent terp in Gelato, alongside limonene and myrcene.

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3. Limonene

This terpene is commonly found in citrus fruits and is responsible for the citrusy scent of some strains. Studies suggest that it can help boost the immune system. Other uses include alleviating anxiety, pain, inflammation, and depression.

Limonene is the dominant terpenoid in the Wedding Cake strain. 

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4. Pinene

Pinene may improve alertness, memory and provide relief from pain, asthma, inflammation, and anxiety.

This is the most common terp in the natural world. It is also found in pine needles, rosemary, and basil plants. It’s responsible for the “piney” aroma expressed in some cannabis cultivars.

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5. Humulene

Another common cannabis terpenoid. It is also found in hops, basil, and cloves. It is responsible for the “hoppy” aroma in some cultivars. Humulene may have anti-inflammatory benefits.

What Terpenes Matter?

Terpenes play an important role in the overall effects of weed. They can promote the effects of cannabinoids or suppress them based on the concentration, and they can act synergistically to produce enhanced results.

They also have medicinal properties of their own. Since they determine the overall effects of weed, terpenes also provide an alternative way of classifying cultivars/strains.

To enjoy all these benefits, buy terpene-rich weed today at Stok’d cannabis, the best legal dispensary in Scarborough.