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Terpenes: What are they and what do they do

Terpenes, also known as terpenoids, are a large and diverse class of organic compounds that give plants, such as cannabis, their aroma, taste and flavor. Terpenes do not interact with our body’s cannabinoid receptors but rather cause a different effect with the cannabinoids that are interacting with our receptors. A single cannabis plant can potentially contain upwards of 200 plus terpenes.

Terpenes provide a higher level of accuracy when it comes to differentiating strains, or varieties, of cannabis. For instance, some cannabis varieties have been found to have matching THC and CBD levels and only differ in their terpene profiles.

vNgLM6BQ.jpegIn the cannabis world, three types of terpenes exist.

  • Cannabis-derived terpenes are terpenes extracted from a cannabis plant and will provide a more natural entourage effect in most cases. Unfortunately, cannabis-derived terpenes are expensive to extract due to the extraction process being complicated.

  • Natural, or botanical, terpenes are extracted straight from the source such as plants, herbs or whole foods. Botanical terpenes are sold cheaper in bulk which adds an economic benefit to reintroducing botanical terpenes after a cannabis plant has been processed into a concentrated oil.

  • Synthetic terpenes are produced in a lab by chemical manipulation and blending.

A cannabis plant can contain up to 200 plus terpenes. Here is a list of five of the most common cannabis terpenes, their aromas, and their effects:

  • Limonene

    • Boiling point - 176℃ (349℉)

    • Aroma-Citrus, Lemon, Orange, Fresh Spice

    • Effects/Benefits - Elevates Mood, Stress Relief, Anti-depression, Anti-anxiety, Gastric Reflux, Antifungal, Cannabinoid Agonist, Immune Potentiator, Antimutagenic

    • Also found in - Citrus Rinds, Juniper, Peppermint

    • Common Cannabis Strains - Super Lemon Haze, Star Dawg, Sour Diesel, Fire OG, Do Si Dos

  • Pinene

    • Boiling point - 155℃ (311℉)

    • Aroma - Sharp, Sweet, Pine, Cedarwood, Woody, Earthy

    • Effects/Benefits - Memory Retention, Alertness, Cough Suppressant, Anti-inflammatory, Asthma (Bronchodilator), Antiulcerogenic

    • Also found in - Pine Needles, Conifers, Sage

    • Common Cannabis Strains -  Trinity Kush, Black Jack, Gelato, Blue Dream, Alien OG

  • Linalool

    • Boiling point - 198℃ (388℉)

    • Aroma - Floral, Citrus, Spice

    • Effects/Benefits  - Sedating, Calming,  Insomnia, Stress, Analgesic, Anti-epileptic, Anti-Depressant, Anti-Anxiety, Immune Potentiator

    • Also found in - Lavender, Citrus, Laurel, Birch, Rosewood

  • Caryophyllene

    • Boiling point - 160℃ (320℉)

    • Aroma - Black pepper, Wood, Spice, Citrus

    • Effects/Benefits - Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Muscle Spasms, Analgesic, Insomnia, Alcohol craving reduction, Anti-Anxiety, Anti-Depressant, Anti-Malarial, Treatment of addiction

    • Also found in - Pepper, Cloves, Hops, Basil, Oregano, Cinnamon, Rosemary

  • Myrcene

    • Boiling point - 168℃ (334℉)

    • Aroma - Musk, Cloves, Herbal, Citrus, Pungent, Earth, Floral

    • Effects/Benefits - Sedating, Relaxing, Enhances THC's psychoactivity, Sleep aid, Muscle relaxant, Antiseptic, Anti-Bacterial, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Antibiotic, Antimutagenic

    • Also found in - Mango, Thyme, Citrus, Lemongrass, Bay Leaves, Hops


For more information on the other commonly found Terpenes and their profiles, we recommend checking out this information from SC Labs. 

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