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Aroma, Flavor, and Healing: Exploring Cannabis Terpenes

4 Mins read

Sharpening Up Your Cannabis Knowledge

There are numerous terpenes found in cannabis, each with its own unique aroma and potential therapeutic benefits. The research on terpenes is hot right now, with multiple new findings on the medicinal properties of terpenes over the past few years and more on the way. These scientific discoveries are motivating me to develop the skill to identify the terpene of a strain just by smelling it.

To that end, I’m making sure I take a step back for an extra minute or 2 whenever I have a chance to smell weed.  Now I make time to call out my best guess of the strain’s terpene type. I try to distinguish different smells in the same bud. And then I observe the connections between the smell of the flower and the taste of the smoke.

But the act of smoking is secondary when in search of the right terpene. Save for high tech solutions, the only path to terpene identification is through the encounter of raw bud and your nose. You can’t name the terpene if you don’t smell the flower.

Think Before You Grind

It seems sensible to say that being a friend of cannabis means getting to know the plant through multiple encounters. I’m not suggesting anything insane. Let me frame it this way: Commercialization of cannabis is good; over-commercialization is bad. I would put all dried flower products that respect the human/plant encounter in the category of good commercialization.

After all, it is the empirical touch-point that is the basis of all biology – having the opportunity to describe the plant as you perceive it through your senses. That’s what I’m talking about.

Developing a nose for terpenes is like forging a key to the basic empirical aspects of the plant, that is, everything you can smell, feel, see and taste.For someone who can consistently identify strain terpenes, real cannabis expertise is at hand.

Some Scientific background

Terpenes and THC are two components of cannabis that have distinct differences, yet they work together to create the unique properties and effects of each strain. While THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the “high” effect, terpenes are special odor molecules that contribute to the aroma and flavor of each strain.

While THC is undetectable to drug dogs, terpenes are what they are trained to seek out. Cannabis plants release more terpenes when temperatures are higher, which is why the aroma can be more intense on hot days.

Terpenes are proving themselves to have significant medical value, similar to cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. For example, pinene has been shown to help in the treatment of bacterial and viral infections, while limonene exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer characteristics and helps those suffering from depression and digestive issues.

Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis and helps to produce other terpenes. It is also produced in high amounts in mangos, hops, and other plants. There are a few others that we all should learn.  

The 7 Most Common Cannabis Terpenes and Their Associated Benefits:

  1. Alpha-pinene   Known for its piney aroma

Alpha-pinene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, and memory-boosting effects.

  1. Beta-pinene   Also known for its piney scent

Beta-pinene has demonstrated antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.

  1. Limonene   Citrusy aroma

Limonene has been shown to have anti-anxiety, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory effects, and may also improve digestion and respiratory function.

  1. Myrcene   Earthy and musky aroma

Myrcene is known for its sedative effects and may have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial properties.

  1. Linalool   A floral scent

Linalool has demonstrated anti-anxiety, anti-epileptic, and analgesic effects, and may also have antipsychotic properties.

  1. Caryophyllene   Spicy and sour aroma

Caryophyllene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective effects, and may also help reduce anxiety and depression.

  1. Humulene   Awoody, charcoal aroma

Humulene has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial effects, and may also suppress appetite.

It is important to note that the effects and benefits of these terpenes may vary depending on the individual and the strain of cannabis. Additionally, these terpenes may interact with other cannabinoids and terpenes to produce unique effects and experiences. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using cannabis for medical purposes.

THC is Legacy Signage. Engaging With Terpenes Is Only Possible In A World Where Cannabis Is Legal

Information is scarce in black markets. While many consumers may base their purchase decisions on THC percentage alone, this can be a limitation in the context of legal cannabis. Terpenes and other cannabinoids play an essential role in the overall effects and experience of each strain, and understanding these components can help consumers make more informed decisions.

It is important to note that terpenes can also influence the effects of THC. For example, strains with high levels of the terpene myrcene have been reported to produce a more sedative effect and enhance the psychoactive effects of THC.

In contrast, strains with high levels of limonene may produce a more uplifting effect and counteract some of the negative side effects of THC, such as anxiety.

Therefore, it is crucial for consumers to consider the terpene profile of a strain and how it interacts with THC when making a purchase decision. Simply choosing a strain based on THC percentage alone may not provide the desired effects or experience.

Terpenes provide a range of medical benefits and contribute to the unique aroma, flavor, and effects of each strain. Understanding the interaction between terpenes and THC can lead to a more informed and satisfying cannabis experience.

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About author
I write the # 1 Newsletter for cannabis in Thailand. I call it Cannabis in Thailand. http://carlklinn.substack.com. I'm crazy about Cannabis Policy Analysis, Weed Business, Popular Cannabis Science, Thai Cannabis Culture & Cannabis Tourism. I manage Town Hall as Cannabox CCO. Live in Phuket Thailand.
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