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Can Terpenes Be Indica or Sativa?

If you’re wondering whether terpenes can be Indica or Sativa, you’re not alone. The simple answer? No. However, terpenes do influence the effects cultivars produce. Read on to learn more.

Terpenes dictate a plant’s aroma, flavor, and unique properties. Every plant, including cannabis, produces its own unique ratio of terpene isolates. That’s why different cannabis strains smell different and produce different effects. So, if different cannabis strains are categorized as Indica or Sativa… can terpenes be Indica or Sativa as well?

This question is so commonly asked that we won’t bury the answer. No. Terpenes are not either Indica or Sativa. However, we understand the confusion.

Terms like Indica and Sativa are so commonly used in the cannabis world, that they’ve pretty much cemented themselves into canna culture. The issue is that these terms are often used incorrectly. Read on and learn why terpenes don’t fall into these categories and how these terms should REALLY be used.

Are Terpenes Either Indica or Sativa?

We’ve already answered this, but now let’s dive into the science.

Terpenes are hydrocarbons naturally produced by most plants. In nature, terpenes play an important evolutionary role. Some plants rely on them to lure pollinators, deter predators, protect them from pathogens, etc. When we encounter terpenes, they interact with us and promote various effects. 

Think about how different plants make you feel. Linalool, found abundantly in lavender, has sedative properties. That’s why the scent of lavender is so relaxing. If the scent of lemons puts a pep in your step, it’s likely due to d-Limonene which has mood-elevating properties. That doesn’t mean terpenes fall into the Indica or Sativa categories though.

Still confused? Here are the three main takeaways that should help clear everything up:

While the terpenes found in cannabis DO influence the effects you’ll experience during your psychoactive experience, there are three important items to remember:

  1. Terpenes aren’t psychoactive, so they won’t get you high.
  2. Terpenes do INFLUENCE your high by promoting various effects.
  3. The terms Indica and Sativa… don’t necessarily have anything to do with cannabis effects.

Indica and Sativa Refer to Plant Structures

If the last item on that list was a shock, we don’t blame you. Unless you actually grow cannabis or have a background in botany, it’s unlikely you’ll have heard these terms used accurately. 

You’ve probably heard someone say something like “I want a Sativa strain because I want to feel energized” or “An Indica strain will help you sleep because they’re sedating.” The truth is that these terms don’t actually refer to effects, they refer to cannabis plant structures.

Cannabis plants that are shorter with thicker stems and broader, darker leaves are almost always categorized as Indica. These specific features make it easier to absorb sunlight and heat which is needed for growth in colder climates. 

Sativa plants, on the other hand, are usually taller with narrower leaves. These features allow them to survive more easily in warmer climates abundant in sunlight and heat. These climates also tend to be more humid, so the height and narrow leaves make it easier for plants to dry out and avoid things like rot.

While there is evidence that Indica cultivars produce certain terpenes more abundantly than Sativa cultivars (and vice versa), terpenes themselves aren’t considered to be part of either category since they can be found in both. 

The Indica and Sativa Label Problem

Ok, so if terpenes don’t fall into Indica or Sativa categories and if those same labels don’t actually refer to effects… why are people still using these terms in reference to effects?

Honestly, it’s a lack of education. As we mentioned before, people have been using these terms to distinguish stimulating and sedating strains for a long time. It’s very ingrained in the cannabis culture, and very few consumers are aware that such usage is inaccurate. It’s even more difficult when cannabis companies continue to inaccurately label and advertise cannabis products as Indica or Sativa.

For example, when products are labeled Sativa, consumers might incorrectly assume they’ll be stimulating or energizing. Since that’s not necessarily true, consumers may be purchasing products without fully understanding the experience they can produce.

Consumers that are shopping for specific experiences should really be shopping for products with specific terpene content. For example, many energizing chemovars have lots of d-Limonene whereas more sedating chemovars are dominant in beta-Myrcene

Abstrax Tech | Promoting a More Accurate Cannabis Industry

We take cannabis and terpene science very seriously. That’s why we’re the only terpene manufacturer licensed in the U.S. to study, extract, and formulate botanical terpene profiles from cannabis completely in-house. In addition, our cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art analyses allow us to accurately capture and recreate terpene profiles from both botanical and cannabis samples. 

Using our expert knowledge and exceptional terpene products, we partner with businesses to facilitate the creation of cannabis products with specific consumer experiences in mind. From vapes and edibles to topicals and personal-care products, our terpene formulations can be chemovar-specific, flavor and aroma-specific, or mood oriented.

Interested in crafting innovative products with us? Contact us to talk about using our terpene isolates or blends in your product formulations today.


READ NEXT → How NOT To Shop for Cannabis

Abstrax Tech | Promoting a More Accurate Cannabis Industry

We take cannabis and terpene science very seriously. That’s why we’re the only terpene manufacturer licensed in the U.S. to study, extract, and formulate botanical terpene profiles from cannabis completely in-house. In addition, our cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art analyses allow us to accurately capture and recreate terpene profiles from both botanical and cannabis samples. Using our expert knowledge and exceptional terpene products, we partner with businesses to facilitate the creation of cannabis products with specific consumer experiences in mind. From vapes and edibles to topicals and personal-care products, our terpene formulations can be chemovar-specific, flavor and aroma-specific, or mood oriented. Interested in crafting innovative products with us? Contact us to talk about using our terpene isolates or blends in your product formulations today.

Be sure to follow us for all the latest updates on terpene science and contact us if you have any questions.

Sedating chemovars are dominant in beta-Myrcene

beta-Myrcene is a prevalent terpene in hops, mango, bay leaves, lemongrass, and eucalyptus. The flavor is a strong sweetness with minty balsam and a vegetal leafy feel. 

Many energizing chemovars have lots of d-Limonene

As its name suggests, d-Limonene has a loud citrus flavor and smell. It is found in oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, and many other citrus fruits.  

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