Terpenes are natural, oily and aromatic compounds produced by the cannabis plant and many other types of plants. Terpene compounds are responsible for the rich aromatic scents produced by cannabis. Terpenes are believed to be a powerful modulator or influencer of the effect of cannabis. Terpenes themselves have physical effects on the body and are produced by the same plant glands that produce cannabinoids. If you've ever grown an Orange Bud and got the resin on your hands, you'll notice a tangy citrus scent that can still be there even after many of the other scents have evaporated. This is because Orange Bud contains high levels of the terpene limonene.
There are more than 100 terpenes, each with its own aroma, taste and medicinal properties. They enable a unique aroma for our favorite cannabis strains. And terpenes are also found in other plants, from tree leaves to flower petals. Fungi, algae and bacteria also produce terpene compounds. Natural terpenes are responsible for unique scents that evoke a sense of calm when breathing in the fresh, fragrant morning air from the forest or walking past garden flowers.
How Cannabis Terpenes Work
Terpenes are widely used in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food and cosmetic industries. It is a diverse range of chemical compounds, from relatively simple compounds to complicated structures. Terpenes are delicate compounds that can easily be lost from the buds if the grow box is too warm or if the sticks are over-dried and poorly aged (curing).
Many of the terpenes in cannabis are already well known and understood due to their presence in other flowers, fruits, spices and other natural plant and animal sources. Various terpenes and their aromas have been known and used in aromatherapy for many years.
Hemp contains hundreds of biologically active compounds. Most of these are cannabinoids or cannabinoid-related compounds. But you will also find dozens of terpenes, flavonoids and various other naturally occurring chemicals. Some of these are likely to be largely underexplored and may prove to be extremely important for future medical applications.
Decades of prohibition stifled research to the point that most cannabinoids were barely explored. What's more, little is known about how cannabinoids and terpenes can synergize with each other. This is known as the entourage effect, where the synergy of multiple cannabinoids acting together is greater than the sum of their individual effects. The ability of terpenes and cannabinoids to modify their respective medicinal effects is another complication for medical researchers who only need to study a single pharmaceutical compound (and the metabolites produced) as it breaks down in the human body.
Terpenes are contained along with hemp oils and cannabinoids in the glistening trichome resin that covers the flowers and leaves. The rich content of terpenes gives your properly dried sticks an unbeatable, desirable and enticing aroma. Cannabis terpenes are also thought to modulate the effects of a given cannabis strain. Terpenes such as myrcene may even contribute to the physical effects of cannabis due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Terpenes are found in many plants, not just cannabis. Limonene is found in citrus plants and creates the typical citrus smell.
Many cannabis connoisseurs love the deep, rich terpene profile in their cannabis and feel that it enhances the effects of THC. Pinene is a terpene found in pines and conifers, giving sticks a fresh "forest" aroma.
One other important terpene from cannabis is known as beta caryophyllene. Also known as caryophyllene, it can make up to 25% of the total terpene content of the cannabis plant.
The final terpene content of cannabis depends on several factors. These include the genetics of the hemp plant as well as the way the hemp was grown and dried.
Usually, in properly dried sticks, the total terpene content is up to 0.5% of the total weight. However, with the best genetics and optimized growing and drying conditions, you can see terpene levels up to around 1% of flower weight.
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