For many people the word “terpene” is a strange and unfamiliar term, but it won’t be for much longer. As science and technology carry us to better understandings of cannabis, we’re beginning to see that there’s a lot more to marijuana than its cannabinoid content. To get a hint of the other therapeutic compounds in your strain, just give it a sniff.
Terpenes are fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity. They’re what give Blueberry its signature berry smell, Sour Diesel its funky fuel flavor, and Lavender its sweet floral aroma. These oils are secreted in the flower’s sticky resin glands, the same ones that produce THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Terpenes are by no means unique to cannabis; they can be found in many other herbs, fruits, and plants as well.
Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and give rise to various effects. The above infographic outlines properties of six common cannabis terpenes along with a few strains that tend to express notable levels of each.
When choosing a strain based on its terpene content, keep in mind that different harvests may demonstrate dramatically different terpenoid profiles due to variances in growing and curing techniques. Lab-tested products are the only surefire way of knowing a strain’s terpene potency – without it, you’ll have to rely on your nose to guide you.
Lastly, when choosing your method of ingestion, keep in mind that the beneficial qualities of terpenes can be seriously damaged if heated past their boiling point.