Plants produce molecules in their resin called terpenes, which are responsible for their aroma and flavour. These molecules have adaptive purposes, such as deterring predators or attracting pollinators. However, aromatherapy uses terpenes for therapeutic purposes like regulating moods, dealing with sleep problems and improving overall health.
Currently, more than 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis. Each strain has a unique composition of these molecules. This is what gives the Cheese strain its strong cheese flavour while Blueberry smells fruity and tastes like blueberry. In fact, this composition can even vary within one same subspecies depending on climate, age, maturity, type of soil, etc.
Are terpenes bad for you?
Terpenes are secreted through the same plant glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Historically, researchers and growers focused more on the latter for their psychoactive properties, but recent studies have revealed that terpenes also act synergistically with cannabinoids – in fact, terpenes adjust to the same receptors in your brain – and they alter the chemical effect produced in your body.
Many therapeutic marijuana patients have noticed that one strain helps them more than others despite having similar levels of THC or CDB. The difference lies in their composition of terpenes and their synergy with cannabinoids. That is why laboratories are increasingly interested in researching these molecules, no only for the contribution to aroma, flavour and colour, but also for their potential medical applications.
Most common terpenes
- Aroma: Musky, earthy
- Effects: Relaxing and sedative
- Medical value: Antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, muscle relaxant, analgesic, antidepressant
- Also found in: Mango, lemongrass, hops and thyme
- Strains high in myrcene: El Niño, Pure Kush, Himalayan Gold, White Widow.
- Aroma: Pine
- Effects: Clarity, memory retention, counteracts some effects of THC
- Medical value: Bronchodilator, expectorant, anti-inflammatory and a local antiseptic
- Also found in: Pine, rosemary,parsley, dill, basil, etc.
- Strains high in pinene: Skunk, Jack Herer, Bubba Kush, Super Silver
- Aroma: Citrus
- Effects: Anti-stress and improves mood
- Medical value: Antifungal, antibacterial, anticarcinogenic (prevents deterioration of Ras gene), used to cure depression and acts as an aphrodisiac
- Also found in: Citrus, mint, rosemary, juniper
- Strains high in limonene: OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze
- Aroma: Spicy, woody, pepper and clove
- Effects: Not detectable
- Medical value: Gastric protector, anti-inflammatory, good for ulcers and arthritis
- Also found in: Pepper, clove and cotton
- Strains high in caryophyllene: Hash Plant variations
- Aroma: Floral
- Effects: Anxiolytic and sedative
- Medical value: Anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, anti-acne
- Also found in: Lavender
- Strains high in linalool: G13 Haze, Amnesia Haze, LA Confidential
Terpenes effect chart
However, since there are infinite combinations in cannabis genetics, the range of terpene profiles is certainly immeasurable, as you can see in this chart: