which terpenes are best for me?

which terpenes are best for me?

From roses to oranges, cedar wood to cannabis—every natural scent contains a unique combination of terpenes (aka terps), and they all have different effects on our health and mood. In fact, these amazing molecules have a lot of special powers—some are powerful sedatives, some activate cannabinoid receptors in the body, while others increase the potency of cannabinoids at key receptors in the brain.

What does 'terps' even mean?

The phrase terps is shorthand for "terpenes"—instead of saying the entire word, pronounced tur-peens, people instead use this popular phrase when referring to terpenes and their amazing superpowers. 

I've heard of indica and sativa—is that about terpenes?

Sativa and Indica are terms for the plant—but they won't help you better understand how you'll feel after consuming that flower. If you really want to understand a complex plant like cannabis, it's better to focus on the chemistry.

Several scientific resources have pointed to the interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes. A study from 2021 in Scientific Reports describes evidence in support of the entourage effect, which was first proposed in 2011 by Dr. Ethan Russo, in his study "Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects."

Which Terpenes Should I Care About the Most?

That's a big question, but we'll do our best to get straight to the truth.

Interestingly, the natural production of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant involves chemically combining a phenol with various monoterpenes! This means the presence of terpenes directly relates to the overall potency of cannabinoids.

If you want an indica feel, consider looking for strains with Linalool because it exhibits powerful sedative properties or beta-caryophyllene because it activates CB2 receptors and may help manage pain according to some research.

If you want a sativa feel, consider looking for ocimene or limonene because they tend to enhance mood and modulate THC activity in the brain. 

How Many Terpenes Are in Cannabis?

The total amount of terpenes in a given sample of plant material is represented as a percentage of total weight. The resin glands on female cannabis flowers contain as much as 6% terpenes, though its more often around 2%.

When looking at a terpene profile for any herb, you'll also notice the each terpene concentrations as they appear within the total sample. If you'd like to learn more about terpene testing for cannabis, we suggest this article from SC Labs in California.

Quick facts about cannabis and terpenes:

1) 30% THC and 3% TERPS is impressive

2) Total Terpene content indicates quality: they add potency & degrade quickly

3) Some terps increase THC potency, including linalool, ocimene, terpineol and especially limonene, borneol, and sabinene; beta-caryophyllene activates CB2.

How Terpenes Contribute to THC Potency

If you're interesting in selecting the perfect flower for your situation, you should understand how terpenes effect the potency of THC. Recent research described three categories of terpenes, depending on how they interacted with cannabinoids at the CB1 receptors in the brain:

1) no activity: alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, bisabolol, eucalyptol, humulene, myrcene, nerolidol, and terpinolene do not increase THC activity.

2)  add potency: linalool, ocimene, and terpineol add to total THC potency (5+3=8)

3) potency multiplier: limonene, borneol, and sabinene multiplied THC (5x3=15) 

Understanding the chemistry of terpenes

If you want to be an expert regarding terpenes, its important to understand their key chemical characteristics. There are more than 200 volatile compounds identified in cannabis flowers, and there are 58 monoterpenes and 38 sesquiterpenes.

Monoterpenes turn into vapor quickly and tend to dominate the aroma associated with many fruits & flowers, while sesquiterpenes are more durable and remain well-preserved during the drying and curing processes. 

The essential oil of lavender contains 44% linalool while the essential oil of cannabis rarely exceeds 4% total terpenes.

Key Monoterpenes in Cannabis: limonene, β-myrcene, α-pinene, and linalool with traces of α-terpinolene and tran-ocimene. 

Key Sesquiterpenes in Cannabis: caryophyllene, humulene, longifolene and germacrene

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