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Harnessing Cannabis Terpenes

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Cannabis (including hemp) has come a long way from its stigmatized past. In many circles, flower buds (marijuana or hemp) are celebrated for their diverse strains, each offering a unique set of effects and aromas. Whether you are a cannabis user or not, it is fascinating to explore how the plant interacts with the human body and how it has been bred over the millennia to serve different roles in that relationship.

Many people are familiar with the terms indica (relaxing), sativa (energizing), and hybrid when discussing the effects of cannabis or hemp flower. Fewer know about the compounds responsible for the distinct flavors and effects that different varieties of cannabis impart. Enter terpenes. These aromatic compounds are the hidden gems within the cannabis plant, responsible for the wide array of scents and therapeutic properties that different strains exhibit. In this guide, we'll break down what cannabis terpenes are, how they work, and their impact on the average cannabis consumer.

Understanding Terpenes
Terpenes are organic compounds that give plants their distinct aroma and taste. They are found in various plants like lavender, tea tree, hops, and, in fact, you encounter terpenes daily in fruits, herbs, and even cleaning products. They have become widely used in aroma therapy for their mood influencing effects and have been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine for their healing properties. When it comes to cannabis, terpenes play a pivotal role in shaping the overall experience.

The Entourage Effect
Cannabis, including hemp, flower buds contain over 200 different terpenes, but their combination is what's fascinating. When terpenes and cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, interact, they contribute to what's known as the entourage effect. This synergy enhances and modulates the therapeutic properties of each compound and creates dynamic mood influencing activity. In Marijuana, when paired with high amounts of psychoactive THC, these terpenes are amplified. For example, myrcene, a terpene commonly found in cannabis, has a calming and sedative effect. This amplification however, is not nearly as strong when paired with CBD, as in hemp flower. Many hemp flower consumers still report subtle mood influencing effects from this terpene interaction though.

Common Cannabis Terpenes
Now, let's delve into some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis and their distinctive characteristics:

Myrcene: As mentioned earlier, myrcene is known for its sedative and relaxing effects. It's the dominant terpene in many "indica" strains and contributes to the "body high."

b. Limonene: This citrusy terpene offers an uplifting, energetic sensation. It's often associated with sativa strains and may help improve mood and reduce stress.

c. Pinene: True to its name, pinene offers a piney, earthy aroma. It can improve alertness and memory and is found in many sativa strains.

d. Linalool: Linalool is known for its floral and lavender-like scent. It's commonly found in strains that offer relaxation and relief from anxiety.

e. Caryophyllene: This terpene has a spicy, peppery aroma. It's unique because it can bind to CB2 receptors, offering anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

f. Humulene: Found in hops, humulene has an earthy, woody aroma. It's often associated with appetite suppression and anti-inflammatory effects.

When choosing a cannabis strain, the aroma can be a helpful indicator of its terpene content. Here's how you can identify terpenes by smell:

Citrusy: Likely contains limonene (energizing).
Earthy or piney: Likely contains pinene (uplifting).
Floral or sweet: Likely contains linalool (relaxing).
Spicy or peppery: Likely contains caryophyllene (anti-inflammatory & pain relief).
Herbal or woody: Likely contains humulene (appetite suppressant).

Many flower producers or retailers should also be able to produce a third-party terpene analysis on the terpene profile for the specific strains you are looking at. Attached is an example of a terpene profile from one of our certified organic sun-grown hemp flower.

Dosage, Moderation & Legality
As with any cannabis use, moderation is crucial. While terpenes play a significant role, the concentration of cannabinoids (THC and CBD) also influences the overall experience. Start with a low dose, especially when trying a new strain, and gradually increase it until you find your desired effect. Before you start experimenting with terpene-rich THC strains , it's essential to be aware of the legal status of cannabis in your area as well as employment and age restrictions. Laws and regulations can vary significantly, so always ensure you're in compliance with local laws. Luckily terpene-rich CBD strains (hemp) are legal across the country and provides a great way to learn and experiment with the cannabis plant. They do contain THC in small amounts but, not enough to get you "high" like traditional marijuana strains.

Cannabis terpenes are one of the most exciting and undervalued parts of the cannabis plant, responsible for its rich aromas and diverse effects. By understanding the key terpenes and their interactions with cannabinoids, you can better tailor your cannabis experience to your needs and preferences.

If you are interested in learning more or trying some varieties out for yourself, please feel free to visit our web store and browse the wide variety of CBD Flower we have available.

-Ben and Karah

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