A few years ago, terpenes were relatively unknown to the general public. Today, however, they reign supreme in the cannabis industry. So much so that products made without them seem inferior in both flavor and effect.
Commonly referred to as “terps,” terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants responsible for the flavors, aromas, and colors associated with various species of vegetation. However, when it comes to cannabis-derived terpenes (CDTs), not only do they play a role in their aroma and flavor profiles, but they also potentially contribute to the best part of cannabis: psychoactivity.
So if you’ve ever wondered, “What are cannabis terpenes?” or “What do cannabis-derived terpenes mean?” then read on to learn how these remarkable plant compounds enhance the experience of cannabis products.
What are cannabis-derived terpenes?
As the name suggests, CDT or Cannabis Derived Terpenes are terpenes that come directly from the cannabis plant. The plant creates and houses its terpenes in the trichomes, which are the shiny, sparkling, sticky adhesive crystals on the leaves and buds of the plant. Hence the name “Sticky Icky”.
These terpenes in the trichomes make the plant more appealing and help deliver that lovely citrusy, piney, sweet aroma we all know and love. Terpenes also play a role in the survivability of plants, making them more appealing to some creatures while seeming more volatile to others.
Each specific cannabis terpene carries its own unique distinctions per strain, called a terpene “profile”. These profiles lead to a mix of terpenes in different strains that give distinctive characteristics responsible for your preference over one or the other.
Growers have created strains with particular terpene profiles suited for different effects and experiences through breeding. That’s why some strains can promote rest and relaxation, while others can promote creativity, focus, and a boost of energy. For example, Myrceneone of the most common terpenes in cannabis, is responsible for the relaxed feeling and Pepe Le Pew (Skunky) smell associated with marijuana.
Psychoactivity and role of cannabis-derived terpenes
In the traditional sense, terpenes won’t get you high. Still, some are considered psychoactive because of how they affect the brain. Although not intoxicating, terpenes do impact the effects of THC through the entourage effect.
The entourage effect occurs when non-THC cannabis compounds (terpenes) work hand-in-hand with THC to produce strain-specific psychoactive effects. A good example would be the cannabis-derived terpene, Linalool, found in heavy indica strains like kosher kush and grandpa purp. Linalool is said to help calm the nerves, which helps relax users who are struggling with anxiety or stress.
This is why some strains that do not have a strong terpene profile but have a high THC content produce less psychoactivity than strains with a low THC content and a strong terpene profile. That being said, many cannabis connoisseurs say that the average consumer places too much emphasis on THC content when choosing a strain. Instead, many professionals recommend focusing more on a specific terpene profile that will meet your needs and produce the desired effects. This, in turn, can make strains with diverse and robust terpene profiles more potent even if other strains have a higher level of THC content.
Cannabis Derived Terpenes vs Botanical Terpenes
In the wide world of the cannabis industry, any terpene that is not derived from cannabis is considered a botanical terpene. Although cannabis-derived terpenes and botanical terpenes share the same terpene profiles, botanical terpenes lack the flavor of marijuana and have no psychoactive effects.
Although devoid of psychoactive properties, botanical terpenes are still used daily for their potential therapeutic benefits. For example, if you want to use a sleeping terpene like Myrcene but don’t want to dab in cannabis, you can use a botanical terpene instead. One of them would be the myrcene found in hops, the main ingredient in beer – which is why feelings of drowsiness are associated with drinking beer.
The most common cannabis-derived terpenes
Although there are over 150 different types of terpenes in the cannabis plant, the majority of them are found in trace amounts that they are difficult to detect. While some seem non-existent, others have a more prominent presence.
The following three terpenes are the most dominant terpenes found in cannabis:
- Caryophyllene, also known as beta-caryophyllene, is a terpene that is prevalent in cloves, basil, lavender, black pepper, rosemary, cinnamon, and oregano. With a black pepper aroma, caryophyllene is the only known cannabis-derived terpene that can bind to CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which is correlated to the body’s immune system. This gives Crayophyllene the potential to relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, liver fibrosis, and diabetes.
- Myrcene, a terpene found in mangoes, lemongrass, hops, and cardamom, is one of the most dominant strains found in cannabis. It is described as having herbaceous spice aromas and earthy scents. In addition to giving cannabis its signature scent and feelings of calm and relaxation, Myrcene has the potential to reduce inflammation and help relieve pain.
- Limonene has a name that is indicative of its aroma profile – fresh, clean and uplifted citrus scents. Limonene is most commonly found in citrus fruits, ginger, and juniper. In addition to being an essential oil, limonene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-stress, and potentially preventative properties. This is why ginger and citrus teas are frequently used to fight illnesses like colds and sore throats.
Where can you buy cannabis-derived terpenes?
Cannabis-derived terpenes for sale can be purchased online from many sources and are currently available in many different forms. The purest form of cannabis-derived terpenes is found in the liquid form of living resin, which can be applied to many cannabis products like distillate, flower, vapes, and gummies. You can even buy strictly botanical terpenes and mix them with other cannabis strains or cannabis-derived terpenes.
One of the best applications for cannabis-derived terpenes in recent years has been delta-9 THC and Vapor delta-8 THC. Since THC distillate is so thick, manufacturers can now use cannabis-derived terpenes to cut the distillate into something more fluid and smokable. As a result, a more powerful and less harmful product is available since the use of hazardous cutting agents like
Vitam E or MCT oil is no longer required.
The bottom line
So what is a cannabis-derived terpene? It is an essential part of the cannabis plant that gives it its unique aroma, appearance, color and therapeutic properties. Although strains containing 100% cannabis-derived terpenes are available, purchasing strains containing a blend of botanical and cannabis-derived terpenes can help create a more robust terpene profile that utilizes the entourage effect for an experience more potent and effective cannabis.
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