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10 Things to Know About Terpenes

10 Things to Know About Terpenes
PHOTO Bruna Branco


10 Things to Know About Terpenes

Learn about the compounds that give cannabis its scents, flavors and effects.

The cannabis industry is abuzz over terpenes. Everyone in the know is claiming it’s “all about them terps brah,” but do you truly understand these magnificent compounds? Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the intoxicating aromas of cannabis.

1. Terpenes Are Everywhere

These wildly diverse organic compounds are produced by an array of plants and insects and exist abundantly in nature. From orange peels to pine resin, these powerful scents play a major role in our lives that we hardly ever consider. Their distinctive scents shine brightly in cannabis; from fruitiness to skunky, it’s all in the terpenes.

2. Terpenes Interact With Cannabinoids

Additionally, they are understood to play a vital role in the plant’s effects on the brain. They can increase and decrease dopamine and serotonin production, speed up THC absorption, and alter our moods. Whichever dominant terpenes are produced in a particular plant make a huge difference in the resulting “high” when consumed. The differences between myrcene and limonene are not only in the scent but also in the psychological and physical effects on the plant and the human body.

3. There’s a “Terpene Wheel”

The terpene wheel is similar to the color wheel, which at its core is composed of sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. Many cannabis strains will exhibit a multitude of these flavors before and after smoked or ingested. As you move farther out the wheel, flavors get more specific.

4. Terpenes Change Once Dried

Terpenes are volatile organic compounds that alter after a plant is harvested. Once the flower is dried and cured, terpenes are technically considered terpenoids. Proper curing procedures will keep these compounds intact, but excessive heat while drying can ‘cook’ them off. Hence, proper dry room conditions are important.

5. Terpenes Have Been Understated

The therapeutic values of the terpenes found in cannabis have been greatly understated until now. From anti-carcinogenic to anti-inflammatory, the ‘terps’ offer amazing benefits. It is commonplace for laboratories to offer terpene testing, and as a greater understanding of these compounds arises, choosing the terpenes that suit your particular taste or health conditions will become the norm.

6. You Can Buy Terpenes In a Bottle

Some producers have even mimicked the aromas produced by certain strains. While these essential oils may offer you the scent of Gorilla Glue #4, remember it is the cocktail of thousands of chemical compounds that create the wondrous effects of this magical cannabis strain. Some concentrate producers have even begun spiking their products with aftermarket terps. While there is technically nothing wrong with this, stick to the trusted goodness of full flower or a producer that you trust isn’t trying to dress up a mediocre product.

7. Don’t Look to THC Percentages When Choosing a Strain

At the 2016 Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa, California, the vast majority of top 20 finishers didn’t even break 20% THC. This is obviously due to the multitude of other beyond the plant’s most famous intoxicant. It is becoming more and more obvious that terpenes play a magnificent role in the overall effects of cannabis.

8. Feed Your Terps

When cultivating cannabis the food you feed it will help or hinder its terpene production. Organic feeds are widely considered the premier way to produce the most flavorful of flowers.

9. Flush Your Plants to Taste the Terps

Dosing your plants with plenty of fresh water before your harvest is basic know-how, but it also plays an integral role in allowing your terp profiles to shine brightly. Chemical or salt build-ups in your soil can block your plant’s expression of one of its most crucial goodies. Give your plants at least a week of pure fresh water before you hack them down and taste the difference.

10. Savor the Flavor

Proper storage of your cannabis flower and concentrates not only maintains the THC content but also the terpenoids. Overheating, overdrying and overcooling can turn your terp-rich Black Lime Reserve into flavorless brick weed. Treat your nugget with respect and it will return the favor and flavor.

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