What are cannabis terpenes?

AROMA

If you have ever found satisfaction from sniffing coffee beans, or relaxation from getting a whiff of a bundle of lavender, you have encountered a terpene.

Evolved over millions of years as a defense mechanism, terpenes are organic compounds that produce odor and flavor. Simply put, they have evolved to deter predators, and attract pollinators. With more than 50,000 different terpenes identified, these compounds are found in the resins and essential oils of everything from pine trees to fungi.

Coffee and terpenes
Lavender for Terpenes
Pinene Terpenes

HEALTH BENEFITS

Terpenes were only discovered 150 years ago, and their health benefits are still under scientific review. Some companies claim that terpenes are the reason for a stated health effect, but until the science is completely peer-reviewed & proven, any definitive health claims are – at best – unproven.

Due to the fact that high heat degrades terpenes, some people choose to vape, rather than smoke. This allows the terpenes to remain intact, and (possibly) affect the experience.

Commonly Encountered Terpenes

TERPENES IN CANNABIS

Cannabinoids and terpenes are created in the resin glands of the marijuana plant. Due to the diversity found in nature, at least 100 different terpenes can be found in the cannabis plant. Each strain of marijuana contains a different ratio of these aromatic hydrocarbons.

Myrecene

Pinene

Humulene

Ocimene

Linalool

Terpinolene

Caryophelene

Limonene

Myrcene

Said to be on the calming end of the spectrum, myrcene is the most common terpene found in commercial cannabis.

  • Coloration: blue leaves
  • Scent profile: earthy, and herbal, similar to cloves or cardamom
  • Boiling point: 334˚F / 168˚C
  • Potential medical benefits: reducing inflammation, treating insomnia, antioxidant
  • Strains dominant in myrcene: Cherry Pie, Skunk XL, Granddaddy Purple, White Widow, OG Kush, & Special Kush, Greaseball
cloves caradamom myrcene terpenes
Pinene Terpenes

Pinene

As the name implies, this compound is also found in pine needles. Despite it being one of the most common terpenes found in nature, it is less common for a strain of marijuana to be pinene-dominant. There are two kinds of pinene: alpha, which smells of pine, and beta, which is reminiscent of rosemary, or parsley.

  • Coloration: green
  • Scent profile: pine
  • Boiling point: 311˚F / 155˚C
  • Potential medical benefits: bronchodilator (opens up airways), easing anxiety, treating inflammation
  • Strains high in pinene: Blue Dream, Critical Mass, Romulan, Strawberry Cough, & Snoop’s Dream

HUMULENE

Preliminary studies have shown that humulene may help prevent cancer cells from growing. Additionally, there is some evidence to support humulene as an appetite suppressant; outside of cannabis, it can be found in clove, black pepper, and sage.

  • Coloration: light green
  • Scent profile: earthy, hoppy, woody, and spicy
  • Boiling point: 222˚F / 106˚C
  • Potential medical benefits: weight loss, fighting bacterial infection, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain
  • Strains high in humulene: White Widow, Sherbert, Pink Kush, Headband, Girl Scout Cookies (GSC), Sour Diesel, & Skywalker OG
Hops for humulene
annie-spratt-01Wa3tPoQQ8-unsplash (1)

Ocimene

Often used to provide a tropical, floral note in perfumes, ocimene is naturally found in coriander, mango, thyme & peppermint.

  • Coloration: bright red
  • Scent profile: citrusy, woody, herbal, and sweet
  • Boiling point: 122˚F / 50˚C
  • Potential medical benefits: antiviral, antiseptic, anti-fungal, antibacterial, decongestant
  • Strains high in ocimene: Amnesia, Dutch Treat

Linalool

Most known as the key ingredient in the iconic “marijuana smell,” linalool has long been said to help ease symptoms of arthritis, seizures, depression, & insomnia.

  • Coloration: purple
  • Scent profile: floral, & citrusy
  • Boiling point: 388˚F / 198˚C
  • Potential medical benefits: aiding sleep, easing anxiety, mitigating epilepsy, and preventing psychosis
  • Strains high in linalool: Amnesia Haze, Do-Si-Dos, Special Kush, Lavender, Kosher Kush, L.A. Confidential, & OG Shark
Lavender for Terpenes
Apple terpinolene pic

TERPINOLENE

Terpinolene is an uncommon terpene only found in 10% of plants. Unlike other terpenes, terpinolene is a bit more complex of terpene to classify when it comes to aroma.

  • Scent profile: Pine, floral, herbaceous, and citrus.
  • Boiling point: 366.8°F/186°C
  • Potential medical benefits: Sedative, Antioxidant, Anticancer, Antibacterial
  • Strains high in linalool: Ghost Train Haze, Jack Herer, Waiting GameIce Cream Mints

Caryophelene

The only terpene known to also act as a cannabinoid. Flavor profile includes: This terpene can react with our endocannabinoid system! 

  • Scent profile: Pepper, cloves, hops, and cinnamon.
  • Boiling point: 266˚F / 130˚C
  • Potential medical benefits: anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and antioxidants.
  • Strains high in linalool: Waiting Game, Chemdog, Sour Diesel
pepper caryophyllene
limonene lemons

Limonene

A very aromatic terpene that provides cannabis with fruity & citrus notes. This terpene is found naturally in lemons, oranges, and other citrus fruits. 

  • Scent profile: Fruity, Orange, Citrus
  • Boiling point: 348.8˚F / 176˚C
  • Potential medical benefits:  anxiety relief, stress relief, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants and even possible anti-cancer benefits.
  • Strains high in linalool: Sundae Driver, Do-Si-Dos, Hawaiian Wowie

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