“Do I detect an oaky flavour?”
There are those that drink their morning double double from Tim Hortons on the way to work; those who pick up a $15 bottle of wine when they have plans with friends; and those that eat sushi from a grocery store. Then there are those who brew their own artisanal coffee using expensive machines; expert sommeliers who can tell you exactly where a wine is from and what year it was made; and those who fly to Japan and pay $300 for a twenty-minute, twenty-piece sushi experience.
What we’re saying is, there are people who “like” something, and others who “really really love” it. And cannabis, as a thing that can be enjoyed, is no different.
We’re not naive enough to say that October 17th was the first time Canadians tried recreational cannabis, ever. However, we are coming up on four months since Legalization Day, and maybe the people who first tried cannabis last October want to start developing their newly-legal interest in cannabis. For those people, we would like to welcome you to the wonderful world of terpenes.
Terpenes: For your enjoyment
Just like experienced coffee drinkers can tell the difference between coffees brewed from Arabica and Robusta beans, different strains of cannabis each have their own unique flavour. These flavours come from terpenes, natural oils that give each strain a unique scent and flavour.
Terpenes aren’t solely found in cannabis – they’re also what give plants their unique scents. Terpenes are what make lemons smell like lemons, and pine trees smell like pine trees.
There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence and at least 100 produced by the Cannabis plant. Terpenoid production evolved over time in plants, including cannabis, to attract pollinators and to act as defense compounds.
(From Green Relief)
Unlike cannabinoids, of which there are two to keep track of, there are dozens and dozens of prominent terpenes. Which is bad news if you want to become a comprehensive, walking cannabis encyclopedia, but very good news if you are a picky connoisseur.
If you love camping and the smell of the great outdoors, try to find a strain with Pinene (that’s the stuff in pine trees). If you’re in a more flowery mood, Linalool might be a better bet, as it’s found in plants like lavender and coriander. And if you’re feeling the citrus, Limonene will bring that lemony smell to the party.
Maybe you’re a more recreational smoker, and so how your cannabis tastes and smells is of utmost importance to maximize your enjoyment. Plenty of people, however, take cannabis for medicinal purposes. For them, terpenes become a lot like broccoli: you might not like the flavour, but you still eat it because it’s good for you.
Like with the rest of the crazy world of cannabis, there hasn’t been a ton of research done in these fields. But what research exists suggests that terpenes effect how your endocannabinoid system interacts with good old CBD and THC (click here for our post on these cannabinoids).
The effect profile of any given terpene may change in the presence of other compounds in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. More research is needed to understand each terpene’s effect when used in harmony with others.
Linalool, in addition to smelling like pretty purple flowers, might also reduce the levels of anxiety brought about by big doses of THC, making it a popular terpene in the THC-heavy strains that are being cultivated right now. Humulene, found in cloves and hops, might play a role in lessening your appetite, making Humulene-laden strands munchie-resistant.
It’s not all good news for terpenes though. Myrcene, for example, is a potent muscle relaxer, which might “couch lock” (when you feel like you can’t lift your limbs) you if your strain is made up of more than 0.5% of the terpene. As always, if you’re taking cannabis medicinally, you need to talk to your doctor before exploring anything by yourself.
All in all, our growing awareness of terpenes is broadening the ways we think about cannabis as a recreational substance, as well as a medicinal drug.
Your cannabis label might not tell you what terpenes are in which strain, but your growers might. We highly suggest talking with your growers to select the strain for you.