What are terpenes in weed, and why are they important? How can you figure out the terpene profile of a cannabis strain? Our guide explains it all.

Once upon a time, THC content was the deciding factor for which strain a person consumed (in some respects, it still is). Today, that conversation is much more nuanced, especially as scientists begin to understand how terpene profiles impact flavor, health benefits, and psychoactive effects in cannabis.

Keep reading to learn about terpenes and determine why terpene profile analysis matters for your (or your customers) high.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are the natural scented oils derived from cannabis and more than 2000 other plants (and some animals, too). 

Scientists believe terpenes are natural compounds that plants use to protect themselves. 

Though you can find terpenes in many plants, they’re strongly associated with cannabis due to the high terpene concentration in the plant. 

Why terpenes in weed matter

Terpenes determine each cannabis plant’s unique scent and taste. Whether for recreational use or health benefits, each cannabis consumer can potentially match their desired high to a terpene for the best effects. 

Today, many cannabis experts agree that there’s more to a strain than THC content. And many growers use terpene analysis and measurements as a way to know what they’re growing.

What is a terpene profile?

Each cannabis strain has a specific type (and amount) of terpenes, known as its terpene profile. The quantity and kind of terpenes your cannabis contains influence its aroma, psychoactive effects, and even the potential benefits the strain could offer.

Many factors influence terpene profiles, including:

  • Climate
  • Soil
  • Plant age
  • The type of fertilizer used in cultivation
  • Types of plants grown nearby

For example, you can find the terpene myrcene in many berry-scented cannabis strains. Myrcene is particularly abundant in sativa strains, and it’s excellent for counteracting insomnia and easing pain.

What is the most common terpene?

Some of the common terpenes found in popular strains of marijuana include:

  • Pinene– Grape ape
  • Myrcene– OG kush
  • Limonene– Hindu kush and Lemon OG
  • Linalool– Amnesia Haze and LA Confidential

There are more than 20,000 terpenes in the world, and at least 100 exist in cannabis plants.

Do terpenes have psychoactive effects?

Terpenes don’t get users high on their own. Still, experts believe they indirectly affect your cannabis experience due to their interaction with THC (the main psychoactive component in cannabis). 

This is known as the “entourage effect” in expert cannabis circles. It’s the idea that terpenes work in synergy with other compounds in the plant.

This is why mixing and matching terpene profiles is useful. Choosing a strain based on both terpenes and THC content can help your customers achieve the high (or receive the benefits) for which they’re searching. 

Terpene profile analysis: What to look for

Here are some factors your customers should consider when using terpenes to shop for cannabis. 

Desired Effects

First and foremost, asking a budtender (or researching online) about the effects terpenes can have will help your customers narrow down their list. 

Examples include:

  • Sleepy– limonene and myrcene
  • Mild high (or to counteract being too high)– linalool
  • Energy and focus– Beta-Caryophyllene

Basically, you want to match the desired high to the type of terpenes consumed.

Health Benefits

Understanding which types of benefits terpenes offer is a good idea when your customers are implementing cannabis for health purposes, 

  • Analgesic (pain relief)
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Cancer-treating
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Relaxation and stress relief – Myrcene

It might also be worth looking into other herbs and natural products that contain the terpenes they want to consume. For example, linalool is also naturally found in lavender.

Flavor

Similar to coffee and wine, terpene flavors in cannabis vary widely. These flavors, especially in strains with high concentrations, may make you enjoy a particular strand or avoid it altogether.

Typical terpene flavor profiles include:

  • Citrus
  • Berry 
  • Mint
  • Pine
  • Earthy
  • Bitter
  • Sweet

Currently, it’s thought that the smell of terpenes will result in a similar effect, regardless of the strain your customer consumes.

The future of terpenes in weed

As terpenes in weed become more understood by scientists and cannabis experts, expect growers and shop owners to hone in on the specific benefits available from each compound. You can also expect the in-house testing of cannabis and hemp materials to become more nuanced as well. 

As understanding of the compound grows, it will likely become a standard of the cannabis buying experience.

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