What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are classified as organic compounds. Different strains of cannabis have a wide variety of smells and tastes. Many terpenes affect the aroma and flavor profile of your bud. By mapping out the terpene profiles, we can predict and manipulate them. Changing the smell and flavor is pretty cool, but it’s not even the most exciting part about terpene research.
Some terpenes have been found to have medicinal benefits. That means, there are non-psychoactive compounds that can be used to safely treat an array of medical conditions. There are a ton of different terpenes in cannabis, but here are some common profiles you should know about.
- Flavor / Aroma– Citrus.
- Medicinal Uses– Limonene can be used to help promote weight loss, prevent and treat cancer, and treat bronchitis. Other therapeutic effects include elevated mood and stress relief. Limonene may also help relieve heartburn and gastric reflux. It can also be used to make ointments and medicinal creams that penetrate the skin better.
- Strains– Some strains exhibit higher levels of limonene than others, and these levels can vary widely across harvests depending on the growing and curing process. In other words, one grower’s Jack Herer may test for high levels of limonene while another’s demonstrates a disappointing lack thereof. The only way to know for sure is through lab-tested batches. If your choices are not tested, you can always try following your nose or search Leafly’s database for citrus-flavored strains.
- Flavor / Aroma – Earthy and musky with a hint of fruity flavors.
- Medicinal Uses – Myrcene has been shown to be an effective anti inflammatory. It also works as a sedative and muscle relaxer. This could possible contribute to the tired/stoney feeling often attributed to indicas.
- Strains–While strains like Pure Kush, White Widow and Himalayan Goldfrequently display pronounced concentrations of myrcene, these terpene levels can vary from grower to grower and plant to plant. Case in point: at Tilray, myrcene is currently expressed most highly by the strains Jack Herer, Warlock CBD and Pink Kush.
- Flavor / Aroma –Floral with a hint of spice. In addition to cannabis, linalool can be found in an array of flowers, mint, cinnamon, and even some fungi.
- Medicinal Uses – Linalool is currently used in the treatment of various cancers. It also has a powerful calming action, anti anxiety properties and produces a sedative effect. It also has analgesic and anti-epileptic properties. Studies suggest that linalool boosts the immune system; can significantly reduce lung inflammation and can restore cognitive and emotional function (making it useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease).
- Strains – Strains that frequently display high levels of linalool include Amnesia Haze, Lavender, and LA Confidential. At Tilray specifically, strains currently producing high concentrations of linalool include Master Kush, Pink Kush, and OG Shark.
- Flavor / Aroma – Floral. Alpha bisabolol is also found in chamomile.
- Medicinal Uses – Can be usedto heal wounds, fights bacteria, and can be used a deodorizer. Research suggests alpha bisabolol has been effective in treating a variety of inflammations.
- Strains– Strains that are said to display high levels of bisabolol include Harle-Tsuand ACDC. At Tilray specifically, several of Tilray’s most popular strains express high quantities of this terpene, including Pink Kush, Headband,OG Shark, Rockstar and Master Kush.
- Flavor / Aroma – Pine. This is, of course, partially where pine trees get their scent from.
- Medicinal Uses – Pinene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and is used in medicine as an expectorant, bronchodilator and antiseptic. Pinene also helps to counter short-term memory loss associated with THC and promotes alertness. *You should note that these effects are modulated by other compounds. For example, strains containing high levels of the sedating terpene myrcene may not provide the alert effects mentioned above.
- Strains– Luckily, pinene’s distinct aroma lets you follow your nose to many strains containing this terpene – just sniff out the pine-scented varieties or use Leafly’s filters to find strains that fight inflammation, help with asthma, and promote focus.
- Flavor / Aroma– Hoppy. Cannabis and hops are basically cousins.
- Medicinal Uses– Studies suggest that caryophyllene may help treat anxiety and depression.
- Strains– Chemdawg, Sour Diesel
How to Increase Terpenes in Marijuana
There is no shortage of ideas on how to manipulate terpene profiles. Some methods include using horticultural molasses, slightly stressing your plant regularly, or using any one of the commercial products available. Most of these come with mixed reviews.
In my opinion, what we need most right now is research. Once we have marijuana strains mapped out we can begin to breed plants in a way that produces more of a certain terpene.
The Future of Terpenes
There is still so much to learn about terpenes. Researchers will continue to map out different strains. Once terpenes have been identified researches can extract them and test clinically. Just thinking about the possible medical benefits is incredibly exciting. Get ready, because you are going to hear a lot of buzz about terpenes – if you haven’t already.
Photo Credit: Freedom Seeds