Terpenes are a gigantic class of compounds that occur naturally in a massive variety of different plants. They’re mostly responsible for how the plant smells, and the rosin produced. Terpenes occur naturally and are produced in the rosin glands while the plant grows. When it comes to cannabis – terpenes are what give your favorite strains their incredible scents, subtle flavours, and certain effects. When you pick up a certain strain and are hit in the face by a STRONG odour – that’s a direct result of the terpenes present.
When the bag reeks with a heavy skunky, musky smell – That’s likely the terp Myrcene. It is by far the most common terpene in cannabis. Some will say it can be the differentiating factor between a sativa and an indica and the cause of couch lock – but that’s simply not true. It’s said to be one of the most relaxing terps, but the link to sedation hasn’t been proven, and it’s just as common in sativas and hybrids as it indicas.
If you buy weed online that has a fresh pine tree scent – it’s probably loaded with pinene – a bronchodilator that opens up the airways. While limonene is commonly found in sativas with a lemony or citrus scent, and is associated with anti anxiety and mood enhancing . There are several dozen other terps that are common in cannabis which shape the flavour and effect of every single strain. They have an “entourage effect” combined with the various cannabinoid combinations which can have a profound impact on how each strain makes you feel. For instance:
Caryophyllene is a terp that’s commonly found in spices like basil, oregano, and black pepper. It’s also one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis which gives some of it that spicy peppery taste. Evidence points to Caryophyllene having anti inflammatory, anti anxiety and antioxidant effects.
Another incredibly common and sought after terpene is linalool – which is responsible for a floral scent. When it’s in cannabis it’s partially responsible for the sedative effects – both physical and medical.
One thing that can unfortunately catch some users off guard – is since plants share common terpenes – directly inhaling their compounds can cause allergic irritation.
If you or any of your buddies have ever experienced the phenomenon where one person coughs more than normal or finds a what most would consider a pleasant strain – rough or harsh – There’s a good chance that they’ve having a mild reaction to the specific terpenes found in that strain. While uncommon – an informed stoner with allergies will be able to gauge with some level of accuracy based on scent and taste if it’s a strain that’s not for them.
You can derive some terpenes from nearly any natural plant source, even a few insects. They’re commonly used in essential oils in the fragrance and beauty industries, as well as the vaping industry to flavour various solutions.
There’s any number of terpenes that come together to create the unique scent and taste of your cannabis. They all vaporize at different temperatures as well. That’s the primary reason that when you set your vape to a higher or lower temperature – the flavour can change significantly. Dialing in your favourite strain at juuuust the right temperature can elevate a ‘good’ experience to a fantastic one. Similarly – some strains are going to be just awful for some people- no matter how much your friends liked it. Knowing what scents and flavours come with your top strains can help you find a new favourite, and avoid past missteps.