January 29, 2024
Terpenes, the chemical compounds found in all cannabis plants, are known to provide the smell and flavor to specific weed strains as well as many other effects and health benefits.
You have mastered origin strains (yes, there really are four types of cannabis), have a practiced answer to the question “What Are Cannabinoids?” and understand the difference in cannabinoid receptors. You’ve served as your family’s CBD ambassador for years, and even got them buying from a Massachusetts cannabis dispensary instead of the gas station counter. And as the world of cannabis compounds is unveiled to us all by research, there’s a new field to learn about before new ones are added to our consciousness by all that science: terpenes.
Whether you’re a casual cannabis consumer or a practiced pro, there’s no denying that the list of terpenes can be daunting to navigate. The cannabis plant has more than 200 of them, each with its own specific characteristics and effects or benefits. That’s a lot to take in, but we’re here to help you start your terpene journey. Your “Terp Tour”, if you will. What are terpenes? What do they do? Is it cool to say “terps”? (that one’s easy - yes, it absolutely is.)
It may surprise you to learn that terpenes are naturally occurring in almost* every plant on earth.
Terpenes are chemical compounds that give plants certain tastes, smells, and even colors.
In cannabis plants, terpenes give strains their specific aromas and flavors. And emerging research shows they may work with cannabinoids, which typically get the credit for the health and wellness benefits of cannabis, to produce psychoactive effects and/or provide health benefits. The simple answer is that terps are one of the many compounds in the cannabis plant, which together are responsible for creating what we call “The Entourage Effect of Cannabis.”
While research into the terpenes in cannabis is only about a decade old, it is clear that terpenoids serve to enhance the effects of cannabinoids in decarboxylated cannabis. Most obvious is the aromatherapeutic value - did you know that terpenes are the main bioactive compounds of essential oils? But data and research show terpenes can provide amazing health benefits, too, with everything from boosting serotonin levels to providing antidepressant and anti-inflammation therapeutic effects.
Terpenes are thought to have first been biosynthesized by plants in response to environmental challenges, pests, and herbivores, to be used as defenses to those challenges. For example, a plant can produce compounds that draw in pollinators including birds to help them in the fertilization process or seed dispersion. (Source: The National Library of Medicine.)
So terpenes help the plants AND help the people. We’re calling it - they’re the heroes of cannabis.
We talked about Caryophyllene quite a bit in our most recent blog post, “The Best Weed For Sleep,”, and with good reason. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has published that as many as 1 in 4 American adults use recreational weed or medical cannabis to help with sleep issues. It’s a special terpene because it acts a bit like 2020’s favorite cannabinoid, CBD, in how it interacts with CB2 receptors without producing psychoactive effects. Caryophyllene is also proven to give antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and even gastroprotective effects.
Limonene is the terpene with the most internet search queries currently. It’s found in many different cannabis strains. Its name is a giveaway - limonene (also found in citrus peels) gives cannabis a citrusy scent and flavor profile. It is shown to have therapeutic effects like providing stress release and mood elevation. And it’s just fun to say. “Limonene.”
One of our Temescal Wellness team’s favorites, and any good stoner’s best friend, in Pinene. Yes, pinene is what gives us that beautiful piney smell, but did you also know that it has been said to minimize cognitive dysfunction induced by THC intoxication, and aid memory? Here’s to less of those “what did I come in this room for?” moments.
Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. Myrcene is most known for its sedative effects and its earthy smell. For anyone who loves to use weed to relax, whisper a little “thank you, myrcene” during your next session for good luck.
So, what’s the least common? It may be Terpinolene, also known for imparting a citrusy smell, there is new research that indicates it may offer anticancer and cardiovascular benefits! We expect to be hearing a lot more about this one in the future.
If almost* every plant has terpenes, then you guessed it - all of the products we carry at our MA dispensaries in Framingham, Hudson, and Pittsfield, being plant-derived, contain terpenes.
With flower and distillate, it’s easy to Google the “strain name + terpenes” to find data on what those strains are known for. Here in Massachusetts, the Cannabis Control Commission requires that all edibles disclose “Marijuana type” so you know what strain you’re consuming - look closely at your labels to find it. Or ask one of our Temescal Wellness MA sales associates when you visit us in Pittsfield, Hudson, or Framingham - they’d love to help you learn more about terpenes and help you choose products with the right one for you!
For more information on finding medical cannabis or recreational weed with the right terpenes at the best nearby Massachusetts dispensary, check out our blog and Frequently Asked Questions page. As always, you can follow Temescal Wellness on Twitter and Instagram, and check out our online menus to find what is available at your favorite cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts!
If you want to read more about this subject, check out the following blogs: