What the fuck are terpenes and why should I care?
Why the terpene content of your weed is more important than you realize.
Seriously, what the fuck are terpenes?
I’m seeing terpenes labelled on cannabis packaging, stated on company websites and talked about at all the dispensaries. If you get your cannsell, you need to know about terpenes. If you’ve read more than one of these articles, you’ve probably notice that every time I talk about a strain, I make sure to list its terpene content.
I suspect that over time, the cannabis conversation will increasingly include terpenes. In this article I will tell you:
- What terpenes are.
- How terpenes effect you.
- How terpenes effect your bud.
- 10 terpenes to keep an eye out for and 1 strain recommendation per terpene.
If you’re curious about why terpenes matter when talking about cannabis, read on. If not, still read on.
Terpenes, basically just chemical compounds.
Terpenes are not unique to the cannabis plant. Terpenes are chemical compounds formed in the trichomes and excreted by the plant to ward off pests. There are over 20,000 individual types of terpenes.
Only 200 different terpenes can be found in cannabis. Roughly one percent. If you eat fruit or vegetables, buy cleaning products, cosmetics, skin care products and hundreds of other products, you probably come in contact with terpenes every day.
Terpenes are used to add scent and flavour to products on a regular basis by companies of all kinds. Many products we use on a daily basis puts in direct contact with terpenes. Of course, unless it’s a cannabis company, the terpenes aren’t extracted from cannabis plants.
Terpenes and you.
Terpenes are responsible for the smell, taste and color of your bud. At one time, it was believed that terpenes only effected the smell, taste and color. In recent years, it’s been determined that terpenes also effect the experience for consumers. It had long been believed that THC and CBD content were the only factors that determined the cannabis high.
The entourage effect, not to be confused with the popular HBO show Entourage is the theory that the terpenes in cannabis actively work with the cannabinoids in the plant to alter the effects for the user. They can increase or change the effects completely based on their chemical makeup.
Terpenes also have their own effects independent of the entourage effect. They are part of the reason some people have positive experiences with aroma therapy.
Ever wonder why stinky weed is considered better?
Scent is an important factor when considering the quality of cannabis. Primarily because a strong scent indicates a higher terpene content. No two strains are the same, terpenes come from the grow techniques used by an LP. Which is also why two strains with the same names can have major variances in their terpene content.
Color is also an important factor. Of course, most weed is green, but if you look closer, those orange, yellow, pink or purple streaks come from the terpenes. Of course, brown weed comes from somewhere else entirely…
Go to your provincial cannabis sales site and look at the terpene content of two or three Pink Kush strains. They might be similar but there will be variances. It’s because they have differences in their growing practises and equipment. Growing practises and equipment greatly affect the terpene of cannabis. Although it’s hard to say who has the best process. If you want to know who has the better growing practises, you kind of have to try everything and be the ultimate judge.
10 terpenes and where you can find them:
So, I’ve given you a blanket explanation for what a terpene is. There’s more science involved and let’s face it, I’m not a scientist. I put research into an article, cite my sources and do my best to put everything in my own words. Feel free to go out and get a better understanding of what terpenes are or what they do from someone who is qualified to tell you about the science behind terpenes.
If you’re a visual learner, here’s a youtube video from Leafly.
I’m going to tell you about ten terpenes, their smells, tastes and effects. I will also recommend you one strain per terpene. The strains I’ve recommended I have either tried myself or I’m recommending you something because I’ve tried other products from the licensed producer and stand by their cannabis. I’m not reviewing these strains, although I have already reviewed one or two of them in other posts.
Terpene #1: Myrcene
Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in modern, commercial cannabis. For whatever reason, it feels like there’s myrcene in everything. At the very least, it’s in a number of Indicas. Outside of cannabis, it’s found in hops, lemons grass, mango and thyme. Myrcene is also responsible for fragrances you can find in beer.
In cannabis, myrcene is often the source of the musky or earthy smell. It also interacts with CBD to amplify the effects of anti-anxiety and pain-relief.
If you’re looking for a myrcene strain, look no further than the San Rafael Pink Kush.
SR Pink Kush is an Indica with:
• A THC content of 18-23%.
• A lemony scent with notes of spice and lavender.
• A terpene portfolio including beta-caryophyllene, bisabolol, and limonene.
Terpene #2: Caryophyllene
When your bud is spicy, look no further than Caryophyllene for the cause. Caryophyllene is the spiciest of the terpenes found in cannabis. Not only does it provide the spice, but it also creates the musky, perhaps even fuel-like aroma we’ve come to recognize and perhaps also expect from our bud. I’ve heard people compare the scent of caryophyllene to diesel fuel, I don’t know If I completely agree with it, but I can see where they’re coming from. I’ve been covered in diesel fuel once or twice and I didn’t smell like weed.
Caryophyllene can also be found in black pepper, basil, oregano and cinnamon. It has been found to relieve pain, boost the immune system and has been found to be a possible treatment for addiction. I’m not saying you should replace your one-a-day vitamins for a caryophyllene strain or could help you get off a harder substance, that's something a doctor needs to tell you.
If you want to experience a caryophyllene strain for yourself, try the Balance Hybrid from Solei.
Solei’s Balance Hyrbid has:
• A THC content of 6-11%.
• A CBD content of 8.5-15.5%.
• A lemony scent with notes of spice and pepper.
• A terpene portfolio including beta-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, linalool, myrcene and limonene.
Terpene #3: Pinene
I think it’s pretty obvious where Pinene can be found other than cannabis. Pine needles. You know, the little needles pine trees have instead of leaves. I think my grandmother used to have one on her front yard. It’s gone now. Pinene can also be found in rosemary and basil.
Pinene makes weed smell like pine, taste like pine, and generally reminds you of pine trees. It’s also been known to create anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic and anti-anxiety effects. As well as been suggested as being able to prevent cancer cells from growing. I’m not a doctor though, I have a liberal arts degree. Please don’t just take my word for something like this. I’m not an authority on cancer or human-sciences.
If you want to try a cannabis strain containing the terpene pinene, start with the Sensi Star Spinach has on the market.
Spinach’s Sensi Star has:
• A THC content of 18-24%.
• A sweet, sour and piney aroma that also influences its taste heavily.
• A terpene portfolio including alpha-pinene, myrcene and trans-caryophyllene.
Terpene #4: Limonene
Guess which plant limonene is found in. Go on. Limes, right? Nope, limonene can be found in orange rinds, lemon rinds, and fruit rinds of all kinds (that rhymed). It can also be found in juniper. Limonene doesn’t always make cannabis smell like lemons. Often there are trace amounts of limonene, it is rarely the dominant terpene in the cultivar (the strain). Often, limonene will only contribute the effects of the plant. When you get a lemon strain, check the terpene content on it. There may not be any limonene at all.
Limonene is often added to sodas, desserts and candies to provide a lemon flavour. Limonene comes out in the taste of the plant as well as its effects. Limonene has been suggested to work as a(n):
• Gastric reflux aid.
So, if you’re feeling farty, maybe look for a limonene strain. You could try No. 17 Craft from FIGR.
No. 17 Craft is a stronger Indica with:
• A THC content of 15.8-22%
• A strong citrus smell and taste, which comes from their:
• Its Beta-Pinene, Caryophyllene, Limonene, Myrcene, Terpineol terpene profile.
Terpene #5: Humulene
Much like myrcene, humulene is integral to beer. Its commonly found in hops. Molecularly, it’s close to caryophyllene. They are quite similar and produce earthy, woody and spice smells and flavours. Aside from hops, humulene can be found in black pepper, ginseng and tobacco.
Humulene has been found to be an anti-bacterial, an anti-inflammatory, and has been suggested as a possible aid for weight loss. Of course, if you don’t get the munchies first. If you want to try a strain containing Humulene, look no further than Glueberry OG by Muskoka Grown.
Glueberry OG is a strong hybrid with:
• A THC content of 18-24.5%,
• Slight spicy and fruity notes created by,
• Its Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Humulene, Linalool, Myrcene terpene profile
Terpene #6: Linalool
Aside from cannabis, linalool is most commonly found in lavender, jasmine, basil and thyme. Linalool contributes greatly to the floral flavour and aroma of many plants. Including cannabis. Linalool can be found in over 200 plants. Linalool is used in soaps, perfumes and many aroma therapy treatments. People consume linalool all the time and have no idea.
Linalool has been known to promote:
• Calming effects
• Lower depression levels
• A strong immune system
For a Linalool strain, try Cold Creek Kush from Redecan.
Cold Creek Kush is a strong Sativa with:
• A THC content of 17-23%,
• Strong herbal, earthy, woody smell due to its
• Its Beta-Pinene, Trans-Caryophyllene, Limonene, Linalool, Nerolidol terpene profile
Terpene #7: Ocimene
Ocimene is often the cause of the sweet and herbaceous smells you find in cannabis. It can also add citrussy or woody undertones. It does a bit of everything really. Ocimene can also be found in mint, parsley, tarragon, and orchids. Crazy how versatile a hormone you find in weed can be right? Ocimene is also used in shampoo, anti-perspirants, soaps and surface cleaners. You basically wash yourself and your house with terpenes. Because of covid-19, we cover surfaces in terpenes. Although, they’re not coming from cannabis.
There are many that believe ocimene can work as an:
If you want to try a strain with ocimene, UP Cannabis (Hexo) has Ghost Train Haze in their UP20 line.
Ghost Train Haze is a strong Sativa and has:
• A THC content of 17-23%,
• Sour citrus and floral smell due to its
• Its Beta-Pinene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Limonene, Terpinolene, Ocimene terpene profile
Terpene #8: Nerolidol
Nerolidol is pleasant in lavender, ginger, jasmine, and citronella. It’s incredibly similar to linalool in that manner. It also produces floral aromas, much like linalool. Unlike linalool, it produces woody aromas and taste as well. Nerolidol is also used in many perfumes, lotions and scented moisturizers for its scent.
It’s been found to have natural sleep and sedative properties. Which means you will find it in predominantly in Indica. Some Indicas may even draw their powers from nerolidol. It is also used as an anti-anxiety as well as anti-oxidant properties.
If you want to try a strain with Nerolidol in it, I have the perfect one for you. Organic Bubba Kush from Whistler Organic co.
Organic Bubba Kush is a strong Indica with:
• A THC content of 20-26%,
• Sweet and earthy scent due to its
• Its Beta-Caryophyllene and nerolidol.
Terpene #9: Bisabolol
That’s a funny sounding word, right? Try and say it aloud, you can’t. Bisabolol. In all seriousness it’s found in chamomile, as well as bark from a specific tree in Brazil. This is another terpene that contributes a light, sweet or floral smell and taste to cannabis.
Bisabolol has been used in cosmetics for its skin-healing properties. Bisabolol also been found to be a good:
Bisabolol can even treat sunburns. Not if you’re smoking it though. If you want to try a strain rich in bisabolol, A-Mint by Truro might be perfect for you.
A-Mint is a strong Indica and has:
• A THC content of 17-23%,
• Sweet and cookie-like smell due to its
• Its Beta-Caryophyllene, Bisabolol, Guaiol, Humulene, Limonene.
Terpene #10: Guaiol
Guaiol is often found in cypress pine and guaiacum. Typically, guaiol is found in trace amounts in cannabis. It’s not very abundant, but trace amounts of Guaiol are found in a number of strains. The way to pronounce guaiol is “g-why-ee-ol”. Aside from the created confusion of how to pronounce guaiol, it also produces wood, rose smells as well as notes of pine.
Guaiol has a history as a natural medicine. It’s also been used to treat constipation, coughs and arthritis. I’m not sure how the three are related.
For a strain with its own trace amounts of guaiol, seek out the 7Acres Sensi Star.
In the 7Acres Sensi Star, you will find a strong Indica with:
• A THC content of 19-25%,
• Lemon and peppery aroma due to its
• Its Trans-Caryophyllene, Nerolidol, Guaiol, Myrcene, Limonene and Myrcene.
Normally these articles take me a couple of days to write. I split up the work into three phases, research, draft and polish. This article’s taken me at least a week and a half, maybe closer to two. I started writing it before a break-up and finished it about a week afterwards. I typically write my articles two weeks in advance and by the time I’m publishing one article, I have two more on the way. One waiting to get published and the other somewhere between draft and polish. Between feeling emotionally stuck, starting a new job and being bitten up by a new puppy, I just couldn’t get anything done. I feel like I’ve been running on empty for weeks.
I was finally able to write this after what I’m calling a week hiatus. It took me much longer than usual to put together 10 terpenes and 10 strains for you. I’m also behind. I’m hoping to eventually catch up to being ahead by two weeks.
That being said.
I want to hear from you.
If you’re happy to see me writing again, pleased with how I’ve put this information together or absolutely fucking grateful for getting you through a fifteen-minute break on the can, don’t hesitate to leave a tip!
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About the Creator
Josh Socket Writes
I'm a copywriter. My first thought was to create a library of cannabis information but I've decided to expand my writing.
I used to write for an agency that specialized in merchandising for influencers. Check it out.
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