Terpenes, also known as ‘terps,’ are aromatic compounds found in a variety of plants, including cannabis. However, even if you have never used cannabis before, you have likely experienced terpenes in some form or another.
Terpenes are usually found in the glands or resins produced by plants. In nature, they are used as defense mechanisms against predators or to attract pollinators. While they may be produced in defense, terpenes can be beneficial to humans. For example, one of the reasons we enjoy or feel less stressed after taking walks through certain forests or paths may be due to the natural terpenes in the air. A study done on forest bathing showed that when compared to urban settings, being immersed in nature has various health benefits, including reduced pulse rate and blood pressure. You can experiment with this yourself by comparing your own levels before and after walking through your favorite trails.
In cannabis, terpenes are found in the same glands that cannabinoids are found. It is important to note that when it comes to percentages in products, terpenes are far more potent. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are usually found anywhere between 10-30%. For terpenes, you only find 1-2%. This explains why inhaling only small trace amounts outdoors is still beneficial.
Terpenes exist in cannabis for the same reason as other plants (defense/reproduction) and may also offer potential health benefits. Studies have shown terpenes may have unique medicinal properties that could alleviate symptoms from ailments like migraines, pain or inflammation. However, research also shows terpenes found in cannabis have been known to work synergistically with other cannabinoids and our bodies to produce even more of a variety of effects.
Some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis are:
- Scent often described peppery, spicy, or woody.
- Potential stress relieving properties and treatment of pain
- Can also be found in black pepper and cinnamon
- Scent often described as citrusy
- Potential mood elevating and anti-anxiety properties
- Can also be found in rinds of citrus fruits
- Scent often described as floral or herbal
- Potential relaxation and anti-depressive properties
- Can also be found in lavender
- Scent often described as earthy, musky
- Known for its sedative, calming effects
- Can also be found in hops and thyme
- Scent often described as pine
- Potential memory retention & alertness properties
- Can also be found in pine needles and rosemary
While these are currently the most common, there are hundreds of different terpenes found in cannabis all with unique aromas and properties. Each strain or variety of cannabis tends to be dominant in a couple of terpenes over others. While each of these terpenes has different potential health benefits, they may also affect our general preferences. For example, some of my favorite varieties are gorilla glue, mendo breath, and purple punch. After looking up the terpenes common in those strains, I realized I have a strong preference for limonene and caryophyllene. You can figure out your own preferences by comparing the lab tests of your favorite products and recording them. The combinations you find may not always be what you expect.
A common discussion nowadays revolves around using terpenes to recommend products to consumers in addition to cannabinoid content. Certain websites and menus like Leafly, are already moving towards describing products by their terpene profile. After recording your own preferences let us know what you think.
Want to learn more about your favorite terpenes and their potential benefits? Check out https://mcrlabs.com/the-cannabis-review/terpenes/