The words terpenes and terpenoids are often used interchangeably, although the meanings vary. Terpenes are the naturally occurring combination of carbon and hydrogen, whereas terpenoids are terpenes that have been modified through a drying and curing process (chemical modification), altering the oxygen content of the compound.
Custom Terpene Profiles
Research and information about terpenes are becoming increasingly available as interest in cannabis continues to grow. However, the average cannabis shopper can still be unaware of the effects that terpenes have on their cannabis experience. Furthermore, testing profiles showing cannabinoid and terpene content are not widely available to consumers. Companies are stepping in to remediate this by rebranding how we talk about terpenes.
How Terpenes Affect your Mood
Here’s an example: A sour-smelling flower may have a strong lemon scent to it. Lemon scented strains are often correlated with strains like lemon skunk or lemon haze; these are zesty Sativas that give the consumer a boost of energy and euphoria. With a better understanding of terpenes and how they relate to the scents that you are experiencing, you are able to come to certain conclusions about the plant in front of you by simply smelling it. This is powerful information for consumers, patients, and growers alike.
These are some of the major terpenes used:
You may be more familiar with terpenes than you realize. Considering our lemon example above, do you know what terpene a lemon scent refers to? Limonene. Limonene is not only characteristic of citrus-smelling cannabis but it’s also the exact terpene found in lemons and other citrus fruit rinds, like oranges and limes, giving them that fruity smell.Among other products, limonene is commonly used as a fragrant additive in cosmetics and cleaning supplies.
Limonene is known for its powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties. It’s a natural insecticide on the cannabis plant and can even assist in treating toenail fungus in humans. Limonene is easily absorbed through inhalation and even improves absorption of other terpenes through the skin and body tissue, like mucous membranes and the digestive tract. Limonene is also known for its stress-relieving and mood-enhancing effects.
Can you guess where pinene is commonly found? That’s right — pine trees. Pinene actually comes in two types: alpha, which smells like pine needles and is the most commonly found terpene in nature, and beta, which smells like rosemary, basil, dill, or parsley. Pinene is also found in conifer trees, citrus peels, and turpentine. Pinene is a powerful bronchodilator, which helps improve airflow to lungs, making it a good option for those struggling with asthma. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and local antiseptic and has been used by cultures around the world for its healing properties for thousands of years. Pinene easily crosses the blood-brain barrier improving memory and alertness. It’s even said that pinene counters memory loss associated with THC.
Commonly found in mangoes, hops, thyme, and lemongrass, myrcene is said to be one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis. Myrcene is important because its presence determines whether a strain is indica or sativa. According to Steep Hill Labs, if a plant has more than 0.5% myrcene, it will produce indica-like effects. Anything less than 0.5% myrcene produces sativa-like effects. Myrcene is also known for its antibiotic, analgesic, and anti-mutagenic properties.
Linalool is commonly found in lavender and its aroma is light and floral. Widely known for the ability to reduce stress, linalool is used as an anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and sedative. Linalool is also used to relieve seizure symptoms and provide relief to those suffering from psychosis.
Profile charts, like this table or this wheel, provide an easy, visual way for consumers and patients to understand which terpenes produce particular effects. Generally, terpenes can be associated with different strains or products. These visual aids can help educate curious consumers so that informed purchasing decisions can be made.
The Future of Cannabis is in Delivering a Consistent Feeling, Like This..
Recently, there has been an uptick in companies who discuss their products based on feelings. Some brands advertise solely based on their intended effects. You can now buy a vape pen labeled “relax” or “energy.” This is a game changer for a few reasons. Two customers may walk into a dispensary asking for something sativa. The first customer may ask for a sativa seeking to focus, while the other may ask for a sativa seeking higher levels of energy. Because varied terpene content within sativa strains will make certain products better for certain effects, the use of mood-based branding provides solutions for different types of customers.
Custom Terpene Profiles, Should I Care?
Custom terpene profiles can also be beneficial to patients seeking relief. Medical cannabis patients often suffer from several ailments at the same time, for example, nausea, pain, and stress. The severity and sensitivity of conditions vary among patients making individual, customized treatment essential.
As more brands hit the market with custom terpene and cannabinoid profiles, patients are provided with increased treatment options, and in ways that we have not seen before. Because growing conditions and plant genetics determine terpene quality and content, growers are now able to make adjustments to the “how” and “what” they grow, in order to meet patient demand. This is a much faster and transparent process than waiting for a new pharmaceutical drug to hit the market.
More scientific research is necessary in order to better understand how terpenes affect the human body. Cannabis Science is still a relatively new field and there is so much more to be discovered. Until then, you can learn more by educating yourself on what research has been validated in order to better inform your consumption and purchasing decisions.
Terpene-based products are pushing the conversation about these compounds into the mainstream. Consumers are beginning to understand the correlation between terpenes and cannabinoids and their cannabis-consumption experience. The more sophisticated the consumer becomes, the more evolved the products on the shelves (and their marketing) will become.
As cannabis legalization marches forward, the market for products geared towards patients and consumers will rapidly expand. New companies and brands will jump in developing products to meet demand. Simultaneously, research will continue to move forward and more information regarding the benefits of the cannabis plant will come to light.
It’s up to consumers to better understand what they are looking for from their cannabis experience and from their products. By having open conversations with budtenders and asking brands for what they want, they open to door to new possibilities.