Ask any cannabis connoisseur, and they’ll agree that no two strains are the same. From a hint of blueberry to a pungent earthy aroma, a zesty citrus zing to a slight diesel-like after-taste, the flavor body of cannabis adds considerably to the cerebral experience. But what exactly causes the distinct difference in taste and aroma from one bud to the next. Organic compounds called terpenes.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are oils secreted by the same pot plant glands that produce THC and CBD during flowering. Over 100 terpenes have been identified so far, each with its own unique flavor, smell and medical marijuana properties. From muscle strain, asthma or breast cancer, to depression, stress or gallstones, there’s a terp to treat any ailment.
Naturally found in fruits, veggies, herbs and spices, these compounds are what affect the flavor profile and aroma of a bud. Knowing how climate, fertilizer and soil type alters their characteristics, can give you more control over the flavor of your cannabis crop.
Types Of Terps
As its name suggests, this terpene is a zesty citrus twist of flavors. It is found in tropical marijuana varieties like Pineapple Express, and Jack Herer. Both these citrus strains are known for their depression fighting qualities as a result of their high limonene count. This terp can also treat bronchitis, combat cancer and help out in weight loss. Limonene is a typical terp used in medical creams and skin ointments. If you’re looking for a magical drop of marijuana medicine, this is the terp to keep an out eye for.
If you’ve ever fallen asleep after smoking a spliff of Blue Dream, then you’ve been lullabied by Myrcene. This terp is well known as an anti-insomnia warrior. In fact, it is anti- a lot of things: antibacterial, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-spasmodic. Unsurprisingly, because of its sedating side effects, this terp makes a perfect marijuana pain reliever. Mother Nature manufactures myrcene in mangos, bay, thyme, parsley, sweet basil and hops. Ever heard the urban legend that munching a mango before smoking increases the high? This terpene is responsible for that popular pothead tale.
Along with Myrcene and alpha-humulene, beta-pinene is one of the terpenes that make beer and weed such a perfect pairing. Taking a puff full of its deep pine-like pungency will compliment the taste of your favorite ale or lager. To imagine the flavor, think of a winter’s stroll through the woods on a drizzly late afternoon, the scent that comes to mind is the same smell that’ll scintillate your olfactories when smoking this terp. But more than just please your nose and palate, this terpene also has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and asthma combatting properties.
Delta 3 Carene
In need of an anti-inflammatory? Keep the medicine cabinet closed and pack a bowl of wholesome self-medication instead. Delta 3 Carene is a terp known for its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. If you’ve hurt yourself to the extent of an involuntary tear or two, don’t worry Delta 3 Carene dries tears (and other body fluids) right up, taking just one hit will have you manned up in no time. Other than in a variety of cannabis strains, this earthy flavored terp can also be found naturally in rosemary.
Looking to up your Bear Grylls skills? Then Alpha Bisabolol, with its wound healing abilities, and natural deodorant replacement capabilities, is the terp for you. Surprisingly, this is also the floral, herb-like terp that gives chamomile its soft, fragrant flavor. But, come 4:20 tea time, you prefer a bowl to a cup, then delight your senses as you light up a Alpha Bisabolol scented strain such as Master Kush, Pink Kush and Rockstar. This terpene fights bacteria, heals wounds and soothes inflammation.
Picture yourself with sticky chin and sugary fingers as you delightfully devour a pillow of cotton candy while standing in a field of endless purple lavender. This florally sweet sense sensation is what you can expect from Linalool. Not only can this sugar and spice-flavored terpene be found in your favorite weed, it is also in certain species of fungi, mint, flowers and cinnamon. Feeling a little blue or frazzled around the edges? The chilled effect of Linalool is great for treating anxiety and depression. It can also clear up acne, that’s a win for your sense of wellbeing and your skin too.
Body going through the wars? Then take a time out and settle down for some serious couch lock time with Borneol. This terpene is known to act as an effective pain reliever and bronchodilator, as well as also having antiseptic and anti-insomnia qualities. Dose yourself with a dope variety such as K13 which contains high levels of this minty, camphor-like terpene. Interestingly, this terp is also what is commonly used in acupuncture practices.
To imagine what hops flavored Caryophllene taste’s like, bring to mind your favorite brand of beer and brew mentally on that for a while. This terp is found in full power in popular pot strains like Chemdawg. Because of this particular strain’s sky-high levels of Caryophllene, it is a marijuana magic worker for depression, PTSD, anxiety, migraines, muscle and joint stress and nausea. This is one potent medicinal terpene as prescribed by Dr Mary Jane herself.
Ever found yourself wondering why koala bears always look so dopey and pondered where you could get some of that? Their lazy nature is a direct result of their eucalyptus rich diet. Eucalyptol is the primary terpene found in the eucalyptus leaves that koala bears are so fond of munching all day long. This spicy terp is more often used in cooking, but medicinally it can also be applied to gums or skin, and can also be found in cough suppressants and mouth washes. To get your own dose of eucalyptol, light up a joint of Silver Haze.
This forest fragranced terp smells like an earthy mix of pines and cloves. It’s often found in soaps and perfumes because of its olfactory pleasing sensation. Not surprisingly then, its woody scent appeals also to the seasoned pot smoker and can be savored when smoking varieties such as Jack Herer and other Jack crossbreeds. Studies have found cannabis extracted Terpineol to have antioxidant properties which carry an array of health benefits as well as being a trusted cancer-fighting ally.
In need of a bit of brain stimulation, or just an extra cerebral zing? Cineole is the terpene for the job. This luscious mix of spice and mint will get your neurons up and firing while possibly sparking memories of your pop’s old spice aftershave in the background. You’ll feel revved up and ready to go in no time. On the medical marijuana side, Cineole is the perfect pot partner for your anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral and anti nociceptive needs.
Taking care of your terpenes
To fully reap the rewards of your marijuana’s terpenes, you’ll need to take extra care to keep the flavor fresh. Packaging weed properly is a vital step to terpene upkeep. Glass is a safe packaging option as it doesn’t secrete any harmful chemical compounds that could put your terpenes under attack. Be sure to house your weed in a safe and cozy environment. Too much moisture could cause a community of mildew to ensemble, not enough moisture, and you’ll dry your trichome resin out.
Keep terps optimal by storing your jars in a cupboard or similarly dark and cool area. Your jars should be fit snug with buds, any extra space will let unwanted sabotagers like humidity, heat and mildew in .
Being able to identify that faint forest aroma or deep berry burst as a particular terpene in your weed will add a much rounder edge to your smoking experience. If you’re a home grower, upping your terp knowledge will also give you more control over how your cannabis crop turns out. You can manipulate your baby pot plants to yield exactly the flavor you’re after.
More than just adding to the sensory indulgence, knowing your terps will also give you a deeper appreciation for the medical benefits that you inhale with each puff.
So far medical marijuana research has focussed more on the composition and effects of chemicals like CBD and THC, but terpene research is slowly lighting a trail. You can expect to hear a lot more about these medical and flavorful wonders in the future. In the meantime, though, just sit back, relax and take a toke of your favorite terp.