Terpenes are the chemical compounds that give your favorite strain its signature aroma profile. Terpenes are aromatic chemical compounds commonly found in plants, including marijuana and hemp plants.
Cannabis breeders and growers have worked tirelessly to create new and increasingly potent and flavorful varieties of cannabis strains, each with their own unique smell. When consumed, terpenes don’t produce a “high.” Instead, they work indirectly on the same network of cell receptors that cannabinoids work on.
Currently, botanically-derived terpenes are safely used for cooking, making topicals, and even vaping.
Cannabis-derived terpenes won’t get you high, even if they’re derived from cannabis. Cannabis terpenes are created inside the mushroom-like glands, called trichomes, that form primarily on cannabis flower buds. Manufacturers have been able to extract terpenes through a variety of extraction methods that preserve terpenes. Terpenes have a relatively lower boiling point than more commonly extracted cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Terpenes won’t get you high, no matter how hard you try. Terpenes may work indirectly with other chemical compounds found in cannabis to increase the effectiveness of cannabinoids or diminish THC’s side effects such as paranoia and anxiety. Terpenes act on cell receptors and neurotransmitters that affect our mood and other biological responses. More research is needed on cannabis-derived terpenes to uncover the extent to which terpenes play a role in cannabis effects. Using a variety of cultivation methods, growers can influence terpene levels in their strains and formulate higher levels of terpene than ever before. Cannabis flower typically has terpene levels below 2% and THC and CBD levels nearing 30%. It can take a lot of trial-and-error and many years of breeding to change a strain’s chemical composition. Over time, however, strains can have terpene levels nearing 10%. At this level, users may experience some noticeable difference in effects. For example, a high percentage of myrcene has been linked with drowsiness, pain relief, and more. Terpenes may not deliver one-off effects, but instead, progressive benefits over time as one takes them. There’s still not enough research to suggest using terpenes as a medical treatment. It’s important to consult with your primary physician before using terpenes consistently.