One of the most appealing parts of cannabis is the scents and flavors associated with the various varieties of the plant. Organic compounds known as terpenes are produced by most plants as a defense against herbivores, who otherwise would consume them, and as semiochemicals that serve to communicate chemically with other living things. There are over 120 different types of terpenes that can be expressed by the cannabis plant, although some are only found in trace amounts.
Terpenes make up between five and 10 percent of the total oils that are produced in the trichrome glands. Although they are constantly being produced, they’re easily vaporized by heat and daylight throughout the day, making the morning an ideal time to harvest.
When grown in different soils or with different fertilizers, some strains can produce different profiles due to the variations. Besides making herb smell the way it does, these organic compounds also have mild physical effects and are also partially responsible for the different subjective effects induced by different strains of cannabis.
Limonene is the most pungent citrus-oriented terpene, giving off scents of lemon and orange, while relieving stress and elevating moods. In addition to being relaxing, it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-carcinogenic properties and can also be used as a gallstone treatment.
A common cannabis flavor is the natural taste of pine needles, which comes from the pinene terpene. This terpene keeps people alert and can be used as an expectorant, topical antiseptic and bronchodilator.
This terpene smells like menthol and is known to be calming and to relieve stress. Borneol is used in traditional Chinese medicine and is also known to repel insects.
This earthy and musky scented terpene can also be found in bay, ylang-ylang, wild thyme, parsley and hops. Myrcene is famous for its sedative effects, as well as its use as an antioxidant, an anti-carcinogenic and for reducing pain inflammation.
Yet another sedative terpene, linalool gives off hints of flowers and citrus to mellow things out. Aside from promoting relaxation, it can also be used for anti-convulsing, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and anti-acne treatments.
Cottonmouth and red eyes are commonly associated with using cannabis, and this terpene produces similar reactions. Delta-3-carene has a sweet and cedar aroma but is more importantly used to dry excess fluids like tears, running noses and excess menstrual flow.
Eucalyptol is a balancing and stimulating terpene that gives off a spicy and minty aroma and is also found in rosemary and eucalyptus. Medicinally, it can be used to increase circulation and relieve pain as well.
This terpene is found in cannabis, and its scent is often described as sweet, woody, spicy and peppery. Beta-caryophyllene has been known to take away pain and is used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory remedy.
Ever open up a Heineken and it smells like weed? The high hop content of this particular beer means it contains high amounts of humulene. Derived from the Latin name for hops, Humulus lupus, cannabis also produces high amounts of this sesquiterpene, as hops and cannabis have similar traits and fall into the same taxonomical category called Cannabaceae
This terpene is a major constituent of many essential oils found in plants. Its aroma gets filed under floral, lime and citrus, although it is used in all types of fragrances. After a certain amount of exposure, it has been known to give off sedative, couch-lock effects.
(Cover Image Courtesy of Leaf Science)