Cannabis and terpenes have a truly beautiful relationship. Keep reading to find out why terpenes and cannabis are one of the most powerful combinations in nature
Reading Time - 10 min
News flash--the cannabis industry is a thriving, evolving creature that uses modern technology to enhance the benefits and effects of a centuries-old plant. While cannabis was once considered a controversial industry, today these essential businesses are making waves for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
A huge part of that success, however, comes from terpenes. These hydrocarbons are naturally produced by most plants, but cannabis is particularly dense in terpenes. But what exactly ARE terpenes? Why does cannabis produce terpenes? How do terpenes affect cannabis?
It’s ok. Take a nice deep breath, and let it all out.
Today we’ll cover the complex relationship between terpenes and cannabis. While they’re both pretty powerful on their own, when used together they have some truly spectacular effects.
The Ultimate Guide to Terpenes and Cannabis
Since there’s a LOT of information we’ll be covering, here are some of the different topics you can expect to find. Feel free to skip around or to slowly savor each new piece of information at your own pace.
- What are terpenes and why do they matter?
- What are cannabis terpenes?
- How terpenes influence the overall cannabis experience.
- Why terpenes are important for medicinal cannabis.
- Examples of cannabis strains and their effects.
- How YOU can take advantage of cannabis flavored terpenes.
- Why the cannabis industry needs terpenes.
- Are terpenes legal?
What Are Terpenes and Why Do They Matter?
Like we said just a second ago, terpenes are organic hydrocarbons produced by most plants. Plants use these compounds to attract pollinators and to deter predators. But terpenes are pretty sensitive and can be influenced by weather, soil quality, and even farming techniques. That’s why two identical seeds grown in different conditions might have different terpene profiles.
But that doesn’t really explain what’s so special about terpenes. Why do terpenes matter?
Terpenes matter because they’re the building blocks of scent and flavor. Essential oils were once considered the purest form of a scent, but we now know that they’re actually made up of unique blends of terpenes.
As an example, Eucalyptus Oil might smell like fresh, minty pine. However, it actually contains the terpenes Alpha-Phellandrene, Myrcene, Beta-Pinene, and more. Along with several other compounds, the blend of these terpenes is actually what creates the distinct scent we understand as eucalyptus.
Newer technology has allowed us to purify essential oils even further so we can isolate specific terpenes. The reason this is important is that terpenes can have some pretty spectacular effects on us! And there’s no better example than cannabis terpenes.
What Are Cannabis Terpenes?
First, we want to remind everyone that our terpenes are 100% cannabis free. They’re distilled and isolated for the highest purity possible. So if you don’t want to mess with cannabis at all, you don’t have to! While our terpenes are botanically-derived, it is entirely possible to isolate cannabis-derived terpenes too. More on that later!
Now, we know that plants naturally produce terpenes, however, cannabis tends to produce them in bulk. As more states legalize cannabis (either medically or recreationally), more people are paying attention to the specific terpenes it produces. The truth is, however, that each separate strain of cannabis has its own blend of terpenes that gives it a unique scent, flavor, and variety of effects.
That’s right. The reason why some of your favorite strains give you “couch-lock” while others turn you into a “Chatty Cathy” is because of specific terpenes and the way they interact with cannabinoids. Cannabis terpenes are basically what dictate the type of experience cannabis will give you.
Like we said earlier, cannabis produces a LOT of terpenes. So many, in fact, that you can almost see them when looking at a particularly “frosty” bud. The trichomes on cannabis flowers are where you’ll find both terpenes and cannabinoids. If you look at them under a microscope they kind of look like mushrooms with bead-like heads and narrow stems. That’s the good stuff.
Terpenes Influence the Overall Cannabis Experience
When we say terpenes influence the overall cannabis experience, we really mean it!
Imagine that you’re driving your car at a glacial 3 mph. When you turn the steering wheel 2° in either direction, you won’t see too much change in direction. However, if you’re going 100mph, that same 2° turn will now completely change the direction you’re driving.
In this example, think of terpenes as the steering wheel and cannabinoids as the gas pedal. Terpenes alone won’t get you high, but they help dictate the type of experience you’ll have. Plus, if you understand enough about terpenes, you can even predict what type of experience you’ll have by looking at the terpene chart of a specific strain.
Terpenes Are Important for Medicinal Cannabis
While this is really cool information for recreational cannabis users, it’s particularly important for anyone interested in medicinal cannabis. That’s because terpenes also influence any therapeutic benefits.
Certain terpenes have more analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic properties, and more. That’s one of the many reasons why activists, like Jack Herer, were so outspoken about the plant's medicinal properties.
While he may not have had the in-depth knowledge we have today about terpenes, we now know that, through the entourage effect, cannabinoids and terpenes work together. Basically, when they work synergistically together, they have more powerful effects than they would on their own.
Take the terpene B-Caryophyllene, for example. On its own, it’s pretty powerful. It can reduce pain, slow bacteria growth, relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, and it can even reduce inflammation. However, like our driving example earlier, without pressing down on the cannabis gas-pedal, these effects might be too subtle to notice.
Need a few more examples? We’ve got you covered!
Examples of Cannabis Strains and Their Effects
Let’s start with a classic like OG Kush. The aroma of this iconic strain is aggressive and the dry mouth is serious, but its unique terpene profile makes it phenomenal for inducing a calm euphoria while relieving pain and anxiety.
Its heavy skunk scent is livened up with sharp notes of lemon zest, creating an unforgettable gassy experience. Those scents are due to its dominant terpenes d-limonene, beta-caryophyllene, and myrcene.
D-Limonene is responsible for the citrus scents and the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and mood-boosting properties of OG Kush. Beta-Caryophyllene imparts those powerful spicy, earthy aromas while providing powerful pain-relieving properties. And Myrcene, with it’s sweet and minty notes, is also anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
The delicate combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds is what creates the unique experience that has made OG Kush such a classic strain.
The dominant terpenes of Blue Dream, on the other hand, are myrcene, alpha-pinene, and beta-caryophyllene. While they may share a few dominant terpenes, their flavor and experiences are still wildly different. That’s because the terpene profiles will have different ratios and the cannabinoid profiles are slightly different as well. In this case, alpha-pinene adds potential anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-ulcerogenic, and gastroprotective properties.
The particular terpenes in Blue Dream make it good for managing pain, promoting relaxation, and encouraging a calmer state of mind. It’s able to elevate your state of mind while boosting alertness and avoiding couch-lock.
Want one more? Let’s try something a little more exotic...
The truly mouthwatering strain, Mimosa, is primarily made up of d-limonene, myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and linalool. This Sativa-dominant hybrid is known for its bright citrus flavors reminiscent of tropical fruits like oranges and lemons.
This brunch-worthy strain owes itself to the terpenes D-Limonene, Myrcene, Beta-Caryophyllene, and Linalool. At this point, you should be pretty familiar with the effects of the first three, but linalool adds a special something to this strain. Linalool has a delicate floral quality and has powerful sedative properties. Ever wonder why lavender is so relaxing? It’s because of its linalool content!
This blend of terpenes creates an uplifting, energetic high, making it perfect if you still have errands to run. The onset of Mimosa is vibrant and uplifting, and at its peak, you’ll notice sharpened focus and an enjoyable body buzz.
How YOU Can Take Advantage of Cannabis Flavored Terpenes
Okay, so we know that terpenes influence the cannabis experience. We also know that we’re capable of isolating specific terpenes. But what’s the point of that exactly?
The point, my dear friend, is that this technology enables us to mimic specific cannabis terpene profiles for use in a variety of products. The ability to offer strain specific designer experiences opens up a whole new world for more than just the cannabis industry. You could utilize cannabis if you want to, but our technology means you can still take advantage of cannabis flavored terpenes without cannabis (if that’s your thing).
Our Native Series is made up of THC-free terpene blends that are designed to be used as functional flavors for a variety of products. This allows us to maintain a price per unit that’s a fraction of the cost of cannabis-derived flavors. Plus, not only are we able to ship these products internationally, these hyper-realistic aromas can be reproduced with unwavering consistency and purity.
Imagine a food and beverage industry that can utilize the flavors and effects of cannabis. Have you ever wanted a sports drink that had the flavor and effects of your favorite strain? With terpenes, that’s possible! Hell, you may even be seeing terpene infused beers pretty soon.
Edibles can have even more powerful flavors and effects by utilizing terpenes. Suddenly, those lemon haze flavored hard candies will have brighter flavors and more intense effects.
Considering the organic nature of terpenes, it also makes them ideal for skincare products. Certain terpenes help promote product absorption, can improve skin moisture, and even calm irritated skin. So, not only will terpenes create unique scents, terpenes can create cleaner skincare products.
And, of course, there’s the vast and ever-evolving vape industry. Regardless of whether or not your vape product will include cannabis, terpenes are one of the best ways to add flavor and boost effects.
Why the Cannabis Industry NEEDS Terpenes
You might be wondering why the cannabis industry would need to use terpenes at all. If they’re already using cannabis with their natural terpenes, why would they need to add terpenes in again? For two very important reasons...
First, the reason why cannabis businesses, in particular, should use terpenes is that terpenes are so incredibly volatile. Like we talked about earlier, terpenes are sensitive. Even if you have two genetically identical seeds, if you grow them in different conditions they’ll probably express different terpenes more prominently than others.
So, if someone wanted to create a consistent flavor for their products, they would have to tightly control their cannabis crop at every step. That’s hard, but not impossible.
The second reason is that even if you have a consistent crop, the manufacturing process can destroy the terpenes. Even a small amount of heat can alter the expression of certain terpenes, resulting in muted or dull flavors. Simply adding more plant matter wouldn’t necessarily make up the difference.
However, by adding terpenes back in towards the end of the manufacturing process, you skip all the guesswork and create a consistent product EVERY time. For a product to be successful and draw in repeat customers, consistency is key.
Are Terpenes Legal?
Considering the changing laws and regulations surrounding cannabis, asking if terpenes are legal is fair. Rest assured, however, that our botanically-derived terpenes are 100% legal. However, that’s because they’re not derived from cannabis. Let us explain…
Terpenes derived from your everyday herbs, flowers, and spices are considered “botanically-derived” and are totally legal. If your terpenes are derived directly from the cannabis plant though, they’ll only be legal in states where cannabis is legal. And then you have to figure out if that state has legalized cannabis recreationally, medicinally or both.
Honestly, it’s kind of a hot mess, which is why we stick to botanically-derived terpenes. As the cannabis industry expands, this green rush will inevitably carry terpenes along with it. But since the botanically-derived terpenes can accomplish the same goals as cannabis-derived ones, it’s just easier to deal with the former.
We hope this inspired you to keep learning about cannabis terpenes and maybe to start working on your own products too! If you’re ready to get creative and start concocting your own terpene infused products, be sure to check out our different isolates and premium blends. And, of course, if you’re interested in creating cannabis products with terpenes, be sure to check out the blends for our premium strains.
We’re genuinely fascinated by terpenes and enjoy being at the forefront of terpene science. Be sure to follow us for all the latest updates and feel free to tag us in all your Abstrax Terpene adventures!
Are you craving more info on cannabis and terpenes? Keep learning with some of these other Abstrax articles!