The fresh smell of pine trees is soothing our body on a misty morning walk. The sweet scent of roses is enticing our minds, seconds before we receive them as a gift. The aromatic delight of a warm cherry pie is tickling our tastebuds as we enter the kitchen.
What we are sensing here are terpenes, the building of blocks of smell and flavor. We encounter them every day as they can be found in almost all fruits, vegetables and other plant life. A strong smell might act as a repellent for pests while a pleasant smell may act as a lure to attract pollinators. For a similar purpose, they are found in the resin of cannabis flowers.
After CBD and other cannabinoids became the biggest stars in the hemp renaissance, now the terpenes are taking the spotlight. Their effects, already well known with the use of essential oils in aromatherapy, add to the cannabis plant another beneficial attribute. Similar to how terpenes from lavender essential oil make a bath even more relaxing, terpenes from cannabis make an additional layer when experiencing its benefits.
THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT
Yet to be proven as fact, the entourage effect is what occurs when different cannabis compounds, like terpenes and cannabinoids, combine together to create an effect that is more powerful than what they would produce on their own. With more than 100 terpenes found in the cannabis plant and some of which directly affect our endocannabinoid system, this correlation definitely needs to be researched more.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence proving the theory of this relationship:
- Mango, the fruit rich in myrcene terpene, is said to potentiate the effects of cannabis, if eaten before cannabis is consumed
- Black paper, full of beta-caryophyllene terpene, is added to cannabis edibles to reduce potential side effects associated with anxiety.
- Lemon, rich in limonene is known as an antidote for cannabis in case the effects are too high or just not desired anymore
It might be our memory playing tricks on us, that just smelling the coffee in the morning kicks us out of the bed. But without terpenes, wine wouldn’t have countless unique flavors and being a sommelier would be pretty dull. Even if the therapeutic effects of terpenes complementing cannabinoids will be dismissed by science, just smelling and tasting the cannabis flowers is an adventure. Throughout its evolution, cannabis spread all around the world, and by adapting to different conditions it developed complex terpene profiles. With more recent hybridizations, strains with surprising terpene cocktails were obtained, making cannabis an extraordinary aromatic herb.
Out of 150 terpenes that occur naturally in cannabis, we can outline the major ones:
|Myrcene||Musky herbaceus woody||Mango, bay leaves, wild thyme, cardamom|
|Terpinolene||Herbal,smoky, wood||Nutmeg, tea tree, apples, cumin, and lilacs|
|Alpha pinene||Pine, fresh, cool,||Pine needles, Conifers, rosemary|
|Beta-Caryophyllene||Peppery spice, woody, dry||Black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, oak|
|Limonene||Citrusy, sour||Citruses, fruit rinds, lemongrass, juniper|
|Ocimene||Herbal, floral, sweet||Mint, parsley, pepper, basil, orchids,|
|Beta pinene||Green hay, piney, spicy woody||Rosemary, basil, parsley, dill|
|Humulene:||Hoppy, woody, earthy, bitter, peppery, floral||Hops, coriander, sage, ginger|
|Linalool:||Floral, gentle sweet||Lavender, rosewood, cinnamon|
|Alpha Bisabolol:||Coconut, fruity, nutty,||Chamomile|
|Eucalyptol:||Floral, sweet, fresh||Tea tree, eucalyptus, bay leaves|