A Crash Course On Terpenes

by Brad P
Weed with terpenes

What are terpenes?

Whether you’re in a crowd at Coachella or at a friend’s patio party, it doesn’t take long to recognize the skunky smell of dank bud. That smell is caused by terpenes. You may have heard them referred to as terpenes, terpenoids or just plain terps. Whatever you call them, they’re responsible for that delightful aroma we’ve all grown to know and love.

Terpenes give weed its smell and taste

Like a reckless wingman, terpenes help you sniff out the cool people at a party, but they’ll also get you busted blazing from your hotel balcony. That’s because terpenes are the organic compounds found in cannabis that give it that delightful aroma. Terpenes also influence flavor, deciding if your flower tastes earthy, sweet, citrusy, or somewhere in between. 

In nature, plants use the strong smells produced by terpenes to protect themselves from predators and to attract pollinators. Sounds like mother nature didn’t account for cannabis culture.

So the next time you stop to appreciate the distinctive skunky smell of some Sour Diesel or the sweet, citrusy flavor after a puff of Sherbert, dedicate a toke to terpenes. 

Do terpenes get you high?

Now that you know what a terpene is, let’s move on to the important stuff: Will terpenes get you high?

While smoking terpenes on their own will not get you high (remember, lots of plants have terpenes), they may still impact your high. Cannabis is a complicated plant, containing not just THC and CBD, but hundreds of other components, including terpenes.

While a lot of research has been dedicated to isolating THC and CBD to see how they impact the mind and body, scientists are just now starting to research the possible “entourage effects” of smoking or consuming the entire cannabis flower. 

Early research suggests that some terpenes might promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others help you focus without weighing you down. The terpene Myrcene, for example, is found in many chill-inducing cannabis strains like Blue Dream and Granddaddy Purps. Whereas, Terpinolene is more often found in get-up-and-go strains like Jack Herer and Dutch Treat.

What does entourage effect mean? 

THC and CBD have specific impacts on our brains and bodies. When they are consumed with the natural terpenes found in cannabis, the components all act together to create a whole new experience for your mind and body. 

The cannabis entourage effect is still a relatively new area of research, but many growers and connoisseurs believe that a “full spectrum” analysis of cannabis (including terpenes) is the best way to determine which strain is right for you. 

Lucky for us, many labs and dispensaries are beginning to provide full terpene/flavor profiles for their products, making learning about your terpene preferences easier than ever.

What are some common cannabis terpenes?

So far, over a 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis plants, and research in the area is still growing. We’re no scientists, but we have done more than a little personal research. So, here are a few of our favorite terpenes, their effects and the flower you can find them in.

Myrcene (Mur-seen)

Myrcene is probably the terpene you’ll come across the most. It’s found in many commercial strains of flower. 

  • Fun fact: Myrcene is also found in thyme and lemongrass. For those of you eyeing the spice rack, remember that Myrcene without THC won’t get you high.
  • Effects: Calming, Relaxing, Sedative
  • Flower options: Grandaddy Purps, OG Kush
Limonene (Limb-o-neen)

Smell that citrus? Then someone’s smoking weed with a heavy dose of Limonene.

  • Fun fact: Limonene is also found in fruit rinds, rosemary and peppermint. The calming effects of this terpene may be why you find so many essential oils and soaps in these scents.
  • Effects: Anxiety Relief, Relaxing, Happy
  • Flower options: Do-Si-Dos, Wedding Cake
Caryophyllene (Carry-off-uh-lene)

Weed with a peppery smell and a faint flavor of cloves is probably packing high quantities of  Caryophyllene.

  • Fun fact: Caryophyllene is one of the only terpenes known to also act as a cannabinoid. Specifically, it can activate our endocannabinoid system and provide anti-inflammatory effects. 
  • Effects: Anti-Inflammatory, Stress Relief, Uplifted Mood
  • Flower options: Gorilla Glue, Purple Punch
Terpinolene (Ter-pin-uh-leen)

Terpinolene highlights the floral and herbal components of weed and is also found in cumin, nutmeg and lilacs.

  • Fun fact: Only around 1 in 10 cannabis strains are Terpinolene dominant.
  • Effects: Uplifting, Energizing
  • Flower options: Jack Herer, Dutch Treat
Pinene (Pie-neen)

You ever get some flower that tastes more like a tree? If it smells like you’re puffing on pine, then you’ve got a Pinene dominant strain.

  • Fun fact: Pinene is the most commonly occurring terpene in nature, and it’s also found in basil, rosemary, dill and of course, pine needles.
  • Effects: Improved Alertness, Focus, Energizing
  • Flower options: Cannatonic, Blue Dream
Humulene (Hyoo-myu-leen)

Although there aren’t many Humulene dominant strains, you’ll definitely notice the complimentary herbal aroma in some of your favorite strains.

  • Fun fact: Humulene is also found in hops and coriander, so it shares a flavor palette with beer. Sounds like an excellent pairing.
  • Effects: Anti-inflammatory, energizing
  • Flower options: Sherbert, Gelato
Ocimene (Oh-sih-meen)

Ocimene is responsible for an amazingly earthy, citrusy and sweet cannabis experience. In fact, this terpene is so appealing that it’s often used in perfumes.

  • Fun fact: While humans find the smell of Ocimene to be very pleasing, turns out cannabis infiltrating bugs like aphids can’t stand the smell and steer clear. If you’re looking to start your own outdoor grow, look for strains with Ocimene to avoid battling bugs.
  • Effects: Anti-Inflammatory, calming
  • Flower options: Clementine, Dutch Treat
Linalool (Linn-uh-lool)

While Linalool is often found in cannabis, it’s rarely the dominant terpene. You’ll typically find it in a supplemental role as the third or fourth most dominant terp in a strain.

  • Fun fact: Besides making your bowl smell deliciously floral, Linalool also has medicinal uses. Usually in the form of lavender or peanut stems and leaves, Linalool has been used in traditional medicine for its sedative and anti-epileptic properties.
  • Effects: Mood Enhancement, Sedating, Anxiety Relief
  • Flower options: Zkittlez, Do-Si-Dos

Try new terpenes

Now that you’re up to speed on how they impact your cannabis experience, it’s time to try some different terpenes and decide what you like best.

Fortunately, finding your favorite can be quick and easy when you get flower, concentrates and distillates delivered directly to your door using Emjay.

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