You’ve no doubt noticed that different strains of cannabis have distinct flavors and scents, from citrusy to woodsy to minty.
Organic compounds within each cannabis plant called terpenes are responsible for how each plant smells and tastes – and they also help determine each plant’s effects on the human body.
Terpenes aren’t unique to cannabis – they’re also found in other herbs, fruits and plants. But in cannabis, they’re secreted as oils from the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
With names like Pinene, Lemonine, Linalool and Myrcene, more than 100 different types of terpenes have been identified in cannabis plants, and they all serve different functions. Many of them are pivotally responsible for a plant’s growth and development; others serve protective roles, such as repelling harmful insects. But most interestingly, like cannabinoids, terpenes bind with receptors in the human body. They can alter the effects of natural chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin, for example, and thus affect mood and stress levels. In fact, the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes as it effects ones response to cannabis is called the “Entourage Effect.”
Weather conditions, age, fertilizers, soil type and many other factors combine to influence a plant’s development of terpenes.
Terpenes are being studied with great interest to fully assess their medical value, and we’ll have more information as science determines it!