When it comes to cannabis the compounds that take precedence in conversation are usually the cannabinoids, these are compounds like Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabinol (CBN), but there are over 100 cannabinoids in total!
As well as cannabinoids, cannabis, like all plants, contains terpenes. But what exactly are terpenes?
Terpenes are compounds in cannabis (and other plants) that give each strain their distinct smell, taste, and also its effect! These are the ‘essential oils’ of the plant in which they are extracted from.
For example Linalool which is extracted from the lavender plant, which produces a number of terpenes but is very linalool dominant. Most people have used lavender oil in the hopes of getting a deeper and more restful night’s sleep, having sprayed a mist on their pillow, slept under an infused blanket or used an eye pillow. If you fall into this category then you have experienced the effects of at least one terpene.
Cannabis can produce hundreds of different terpenes, with currently around 400 different found, the blends of these various terpenes are what give different strains their unique taste, smell, and effect. Of course having so many different terpene combinations possible through selectively breeding strains the possibility of terpene profiles seems to be endless.
For the longest time cannabis has been mainly categorised as either “Sativa” for uplifting or “Indica” for relaxing properties. While this may have been a good generalisation many years ago, years of breeding sativas and indicas together have led to terp profiles that would have been traditionally sativa profiles now growing in indica plants.
This now leads us to where we are today, having access to technology that allows us to see a plant or extract’s terpene profile, allowing consumers the ability to make better decisions on which product best suits their needs. But there is one market that does is reluctant to utilise the true potential of these compounds and their benefits, the medical market! Some producers don’t ensure they are supplying the same strain profile, just the same THC % so make sure you are talking to your doctor about terpenes and how they can improve your experience and ensure they are providing you with the best suited terpene profiles for your needs.
The effect terpenes have on a consumer can also play a role in the perceived potency of a cannabis product. Some people prefer to consume lower THC product with a preferred terp profile as it better helps an ailment or is a more enjoyable experience (or even both). As attitudes and laws surrounding cannabis change around the globe, more information on terpenes comes to light and websites such as leafly publish strains along with their terpene profiles.
To get the most out of the terpene profile don't forget to use your dry herb vape on lower temperatures and incrementally increase. This is because each terpene will vaporize at different points, if you go straight to a high temperature you will degrade and burn off the lighter terps in your profile.