Have you ever found yourself in a cannabis dispensary faced with so many different fancy-sounding varieties of weed to choose from, not knowing which ones to pick and which ones you really need? Don’t worry because everybody else started this way: confused.
The first thing you might want to do when it comes to knowing the different strains and varieties of marijuana and their different characteristics is to know about cannabis terpenes.
Terpenes are the aromatic organic compounds that are present in many plants. They are even found in some insects, too. Terpenes are the essential oils that give plants their scents and their therapeutic properties, making them the foundation of aromatherapy.
In cannabis, it is the terpenes that give weed its natural flavor and that enhance the “high” you experience from smoking a joint. Moreover, terpenes also hold many medicinal benefits.
So when you come across cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like berry, pine, mint, and citrus, it is because of terpenes.
Why cannabis has terpenes
Cannabis plants have over 100 different terpenes.
Cannabis terpenes are secreted in the same glands where cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are produced. And just like other strong-smelling flowers and plants, cannabis plants develop terpenes mainly for adaptive purposes, which is to lure pollinators and repel predators.
But why do different cannabis strains and varieties have different terpene composition, thus giving different odors and different effects on the body?
Each strain of cannabis plant tends toward a unique type and composition of terpene. Many factors influence this. These factors include weather, climate, fertilizers used, soil type, age, and maturation. Even the time of the day affects terpenes.
Most common cannabis terpenes
While more than a hundred terpenes have been identified in cannabis, there are those that are considered most common. Here are the most common cannabis terpenes and their respective characteristics:
Potential Medicinal Value: used in the treatment of pain, ulcers, cancer, asthma, inflammation, and anxiety
Potential Effects: memory retention, alertness, counteracts some THC effects
Vaporizes at: 311ºF (155ºC)
Also Found in: rosemary, pine needles, basil, dill, parsley
Aroma: cloves, cardamom, musky, earthy, herbal
Potential Medicinal Value: antioxidant; treatment of insomnia, pain, and inflammation
Potential Effects: sedating, relaxing
Vaporizes at: 332ºF (167ºC)
Also Found in: lemongrass, mango, thyme, hops
Potential Medicinal Value: used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, inflammation, cancer, and pain
Potential Effects: stress relief, elevated mood
Vaporizes at: 348ºF (176ºC)
Also Found in: peppermint, fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper
Aroma: peppery, spicy, woody
Potential Medicinal Value: used in the treatment of pain, ulcers, anxiety, and depression
Potential Effects: stress relief
Vaporizes at: 266ºF (130ºC)
Also Found in: cloves, black pepper, cinnamon
Potential Medicinal Value: used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, pain, and neurodegenerative disease
Potential Effects: sedating, mood enhancing
Vaporizes at: 388ºF (198ºC)
Also Found in: lavender
Aroma: woodsy, earthy
Potential Medicinal Value: anti-inflammatory
Vaporizes at: 222ºF (106ºC)
Also Found in: coriander, hops, basil, cloves
Aroma: Sweet, woody, herbal
Potential Medicinal Value: anti-fungal, antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, decongestant
Vaporizes at: 122ºF (50ºC)
Also Found in: parsley, mint, pepper, mangoes, orchids, kumquats, and basil
Aroma: floral, piney, herbal
Potential Medicinal Value: sedative, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-cancer
Potential Effects: relaxing, sedating
Vaporizes at: 366ºF (186ºC)
Also Found in: lilacs, nutmeg, tea tree, apples, conifers, and cumin