Terpenes are a popular buzzword used by cannabis retailers and consumers. They’re the chemical compounds that give your favorite strain its signature aroma profile. Although many users seek out high-potency and cannabinoid-rich cannabis products, there’s plenty of benefits in learning more about terpenes and what they do.
Terpenes: More Than Just a Scent
Terpenes are organic and aromatic essential oils found throughout the plant kingdom. They’re what give fruit and herbs their unique smells. Mounting evidence points to the fact that terpenes may also play a role in the endocannabinoid system and interact with cannabinoids to mitigate or amplify certain effects.
There are hundreds of terpenes found in cannabis, although they are found in trace amounts and can burn off when smoking or during extraction processes. Because of their minute levels, terpenes may not deliver considerable medical benefits on their own, but instead, work in conjunction with other compounds to elicit unique effects in the user.
Getting Higher Terpene Levels
Growers are especially excited about the renewed interest in terpenes. Using a variety of cultivation methods, growers can influence terpene levels in their strains and formulate higher levels of terpene than ever before. In the future, genetic manipulation could be used to create personalized medicine with greater terpene concentrations, if needed.
Cannabis flower typically has terpene levels below 2% and THC and CBD levels nearing 30%. It can take a lot of trial-and-error and many years of breeding to change a strain’s chemical composition. Over time, however, strains can have terpene levels nearing 10%. At this level, users may experience some noticeable difference in effects. For example, a high percentage of myrcene has been linked with drowsiness, pain relief, and more.
Learning More About Terpenes
From terpene testing kits to terpene education classes, consumers can boost their terpene knowledge from experts in the field. For example, the Trichome Institute offers an Interpening Level One five-hour online course that teaches students about cannabis appellations, chemotypes, terpenes, and other myth-busting topics.
Terpenes may not deliver one-off effects, but instead, progressive benefits over time as one takes them. There’s still not enough research to suggest using terpenes as a medical treatment. It’s important to consult with your primary physician before using terpenes consistently.
Consumers who previously wouldn’t consider trying cannabis have learned about cannabis terpenes and their unique effects. Chefs and bartenders are infusing terpenes into their creations. Prank, a bar in Los Angeles, has terpene-infused kombuchas and cocktails on their menu like their Calmboocha with lavender, tart cherry, and linalool terpene or the Gepetto cocktail with pinene terpenes for a piney kick.
Chefs and brewers are also loving the scents and non-intoxicating effects of terpenes. Los Angeles-based Bull & Dragon’s chef Aaron Ziegler or Clay Inscoe in Denver both incorporate different combinations of terpenes into their multiple-course gourmet meals.
Now that you know a bit more about terpenes, go out there and train your nose to detect different terpenes. Many dispensaries will even spring for terpene testing, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Keep in mind, terpenes aren’t forever. Heat, light, and moisture can all act against cannabis degrading its compounds over time. To have the freshest cannabis available at all times, a specialty cannabis storage is needed to retain its original aroma.