What Exactly are Terpenes?

Cannabis | Learning Leaf
March 27, 2023
Any consumer of CBD and THC products has seen the word “terpenes” appear on a label. But what are terpenes? Why do they matter, and what do they bring to the table for your favorite infused products?

The Official Definition of Terpenes

If you want to get technical, terpenes are compounds that are grouped among hydrocarbons. They occur naturally in plants and animals and derive from isoprene, which is another hydrocarbon. Chemists recognize monoterpenes and diterpenes depending on the number of isoprenes in the molecules.

If these words just don’t roll off the tongue, consider that terpenes are directly related to smells, tastes, and even colors. It’s interesting to note that terpenes are particularly noticeable in cannabis and aromatic herbs like rosemary. You also find them in citrus fruits and pine products. Plants evolved aromatic compounds as protection against animals that would consume them or as an attractant for pollinators.

Terpenes in Cannabis Products

Manufacturers of consumer products like skincare items have long taken advantage of the aromatic properties terpenes bring to the table. By isolating desirable scents, you can create the types of products you recognize just by scent. Of course, the skincare industry isn’t the only business where a deeper understanding of terpenes is critical.

Besides being naturally present, terpenes appear to strongly connect to a strain’s cannabinoid content, which folks in the trade call the “entourage effect.” They influence how you experience different cannabis strains, even if tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) contents are identical. While terpenes on their own are generally not useful for getting high, they appear to affect how THC reacts in your system. For the customer, it’s clear that the budtender who can harness the different terpene effects will be better able to meet your needs.

Benefitting from an Understanding of Terpenes at the Sales Counter

Scientists have – so far – identified 400 terpenes in cannabis. Interestingly, only a small handful of them seem to connect to specific uses. For example, Beta-Caryophyllene has been found to be “a macrocyclic anti-inflammatory cannabinoid in cannabis.” A strain with this dominant terpene has also been said to be useful for dealing with depression. Another terpene of note is limonene. Scientists researching the hydrocarbon found it to function as a “gallstone solubilizer” and have anti-cancer properties. When dominant in a cannabis strain, you may likely enjoy anxiety-reducing effects.

That said, remember that serious research into cannabis terpenes is still in its infancy. Working with trusted brands is vital to finding the strains with the effects you’re looking for. It leverages the entourage effect for your unique benefit. Moreover, it’ll open the door to terpene-infused products that heighten the possibility of therapeutic effects on the body and mind.

The Future of Terpenes in Cannabis Use

Research is proving to be positive and many brands like BLNCD Naturals, Foundry Nation, and Element Elixirs are already blending and infusing products with a myriad of helpful terpenes. Terpenes help customize the experience, which is a welcome value-added dimension for an infused drink or edible. It’s not surprising that cannabis insiders are continuously looking to advance the understanding and targeted use of terpenes.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out the terpene-infused products at Turning Leaf and don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn more from an expert behind the counter!