Cannabis Quick Take: What are Terpenes?


Many names come with cannabis, from Indica, Sativa, THC; being in the cannabis world requires its own dictionary, and now let’s add terpenes to that list of words. In short, terpenes are compounds in cannabis, but there is a little more to the story than just that.

When relaxing, you know that easily recognizable smell, the aroma of cannabis? The fragrance can be distinctive, and tart or sweet scents of citrus or mint. Terpenes are responsible for the aromas produced in cannabis. Terpenes, in short, are oils. Let’s dive a bit deep, though.

All About Terpenes

Terpene is a common compound found in not just cannabis but in animals and flowers as well. Just like in flowers and animals, it is responsible for odor. When you smell a cannabis plant, that is the terpenes giving off the odor. For typical plants, it’s believed to be one of the main ways to protect themselves from predators, but now people are looking to use terpenes in cannabis to classify them and have a rough idea of what effects they may possess.

The thinking is that terpenes work with the content of the plant, mainly THC, to produce the effects a person can feel when using different strains, giving the reason why two plants with the same THC levels may give off similar results to the user. However, Terpene is not only used with THC. It is also combined with CBD to heighten those effects.

Terpenes on their own are not responsible for the effects you get from the plant, but they possess properties arousing to the brain. Some believe that focusing more on terpenes would be a better way to judge cannabis than THC levels. It’s also true that terpenes may positively affect how cannabis can impact anxiety or depression, but that is still just a theory.

To date, there have been more than 400 terpenes dictated within various strains. Research has only proven a couple associated with the effect you would feel from cannabis, such as Humulene and Linalool.

Research is still in the early stages to determine whether terpenes are the best way to differentiate certain strains of cannabis or if it is simply a contributor to odor. The community disagrees whether this is something to continue investigating or if it’s nothing. Only time will be able to tell. New theories and research are popping up in the cannabis world almost daily; this could either be a game-changer or another hypothesis debunked.

What Is Your Opinion?

Do you believe terpenes have benefits beyond simply smell association? Or do you side with the group of people that believe we’re researching something that just isn’t there?


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