What Are Terpenes and Why Do They Matter?

If you’ve read about cannabis long enough, or had any in-store consultations with your local budtender, you’ve likely come across the word terpenes. That’s because terpenes are not only an abundant component of cannabis and most other plants, they also add great depth and influence the cannabis experience.

Terpenes are aromatic oils secreted through the glands of almost all plants. They are designed to attract pollinators while deterring predators such as insects and grazing animals, and are the bedrock of the essential oil, fragrance, and aromatherapy industries.

In cannabis, terpenes emerge from the same glands that also produce cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. There are a multitude of different terpenes and in many cases they are responsible for the plethora of strain names that exist, such as Sour Diesel, Banana OG, and Cheese.

Why Do Terpenes Matter?

So your cannabis smells like fruit, or gasoline, or pine, why does that matter?

First off, if you’ve ever purchased essential oils, or consumed aromatic foods and drinks, you might have noticed that certain smells not only add to enjoyment of a substance, they also might affect your mood (think lavender to promote calm and unwind, lemon and citrus might make you feel more alert, walking through a forest can promote relaxation.

Much in the same way, cannabis can also be enhanced with these aromas. They are considered part of the entourage effect which is a term used to describe the many components that create a full cannabis experience. Other parts of that experience include a diverse array of cannabis compounds including CBD, THC, CBN, and many other cannabinoids.

Some of the more prominent terpenes include Myrcene, which has a citrusy aroma also found in a variety of fruits like mango. Linalool is another famous one that is also very abundant in lavender, and is commonly associated with relaxation and calm. Pinene is just as it sounds, giving off a strong pine scent, and Humulene, which has an earthy smell commonly found in hops.

There are an almost endless list of other terpenes that can be found in the wide array of cannabis strains that exist across the globe.

So the next time you find yourself in a cannabis store comparing the various qualities you’re looking for in your product, consider asking about the terpenes. Chances are, you already prefer certain strains and terpenes without even knowing this very important reason why.

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