If you’ve decided to buy mail order weed in Canada, you’ll notice many websites mention not just whether a strain is a hybrid, an indica, or a sativa. Increasingly, more and more online weed shops in Canada mention the major terpenes present in the strain.
If you’ve only just managed to figure out whether you prefer sativas or indicas, this may seem like yet another wrinkle. Read on, though, because when it comes to terpenes, you already know a lot about them. You just don’t know what you know.
Terpenes are organic compounds produced by many plants and some insects (termites and caterpillars). The odours they produce can be part of the plant’s biomechanical defense system. Basically, terpenes are responsible for the aromatic oils plants produce. Terpenes are what make your cannabis smell and taste the way it does. Citrus, berry, mint, pine, and cheese flavours are just some of the more than 100 different cannabis terpenes that have been identified.
Every strain has its own terpenes and ratio of terpene combinations. And the optimal vaping temperature for each terpene is also different, ranging from 130°C for caryophyllene to 186°C for terpinolene.
What Do Cannabis Terpenes Do?
Because terpenes are responsible for how cannabis tastes and smells, they obviously affect the smoking experience. But they also have a key role to play in how they combine with the other cannabinoids present in a strain to produce different effects.
It’s not just the THC count or the THC:CBD ratio that affects the duration and quality of your high. It’s a more complex reaction between terpenes, THC, and CBD, and how the molecules bind together to produce different effects.
Whether you’re looking for couchlock, pain relief, euphoria or a cure for insomnia, you’d do well to take a look at the terpenes contained in the strains you ingest and try to pick the ones that will provide the relief (or high) you’re looking for. To some extent, the terpene premise is the same as that of aromatherapy: you would expect a strain heavy in the same terpenes as lavender to be calming rather than energizing.
How Are Terpenes Produced in Cannabis?
Terpenes are produced in the cannabis plant’s trichomes, its hairs or bristles. These are the same glands that produce THC. Trichomes are part of the plant’s early warning and defense system, and can protect plants from UV light, insects, freezing (up to a point), and transpiration.
Think about the little bristles on gooseberries. The odor molecules the trichomes produce increase as the plant matures. Before it flowers, terpene odors are faint. But as the buds get closer to being ready to harvest, the terpene odors get stronger. Levels of terpenes peak just before dawn and are released during the day. While it may seem counter-intuitive, as if the plant is advertising its presence with its smell, in fact the odour is designed to ward off predators.
Climate, weather, type of soil, and fertilizers can all affect the quantity and ratio of terpenes a cannabis plant produces. And just to add another wrinkle, there are multiple variations of the same terpene. Limonene, produced by citrus fruits, can be described as a “citrusy” odour. But most people can easily distinguish between the smell of lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit rind. Part of the difference in smell is due to the quantity of limonene, but there are other compounds at work too.
What are the most common cannabis terpenes?
Caryophyllene is one of the most interesting terpenes, as it acts within mammals as a cannabinoid. That means it can activate our endocannabinoid system on its own to provide anti-inflammatory effects. Present in black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, you’ll find higher concentrations of caryophyllene in GSC (formerly known as Girl Scout Cookies), Original Glue, and Purple Punch.
Also known as beta caryophyllene, it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in foods, and has been successfully used to treat colitis, osteoarthritis, and some of the memory-loss symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
An earthy-smelling terpene, humulene is also present in hops, coriander, cloves, and basil. Potentially an effective anti-inflammatory, higher concentrations of humulene are found in GSC, Gelato, and Sherbert.
Present in the rinds of citrus fruits, rosemary, parsley, dill, and peppermint, limonene relieves stress, reduces anxiety, and elevates your mood. It may also reduce inflammation.
Limonene terpenes are found in strains like Strawberry Banana, White Fire OG, Do-Si-Dos, and Wedding Cake.
Only one in 10 strains is “terpinolene dominant.” Those strains include XJ-13, Ghost Train Haze, Chernobyl, and Jack Herer. Terpinolene is also produced by lilacs, nutmeg, cumin, tea tree, and conifers. Its effects are usually described as “uplifting.” It may also have antibacterial, antioxidant, and antifungal properties.
One of the most common cannabis terpenes, myrcene is also found in hops, mango, and lemongrass. Its effects: soothing, relaxing, potentially even sedating.
Blue Dream, Granddaddy Purple, OG Kush, and Cherry Pie are all strains high in myrcene.
This terpene manages to smell sweet, earthy, and citrus-y. It’s found in mint, parsley, basil, pepper, mangos, and orchids and even kumquats and is often used to concoct perfumes. Look for higher concentrations of ocimene in Amnesia, Dutch Treat, and Clementine strains. Ocimene may be able to help with congestion and act as an antiviral, anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic aid.
We’re only beginning to learn about the importance of terpenes and how they can benefit both medical and recreational cannabis users. Because they’re so difficult to synthesize and are usually present in very small quantities, getting the terpenes you want may involve a certain amount of trial and error. Elite Buds BC can help you buy mail order weed in Canada so you can find the THC, CBD, and terpene combinations that work for you.