What are cannabis terpenes?

Terpenoids, or terpenes, are the fragrant oils responsible for the plant’s smell and flavor, such as berry, citrus, pine, or earth. Like cannabinoids, they are secreted by the trichomes of the cannabis flower. Terpenes are also abundant in nature, from pine needles and mangos to lavender and hops. Alone, they show medicinal value such as in aromatherapy. In cannabis, the terpenes and cannabinoids work synergistically, contributing to the effects of different cannabis strains.

Most strains today are bred for high THC content, so many of the other cannabinoids are only present in very small amounts. Because of this, it is believed that the terpene and cannabinoid content are the main contributors to the unique effects of each strain.

The terms “Sativa” and “Indica” have become the norm in determining whether you want a more energetic or a more relaxed high. The actual terms only describe the geographical origin and structure of the plant. Because of cross-breeding over time, most strains these days are some form of hybrid, either leaning one way or the other or falling right in the middle. Sativa strains are more energetic because they tend to contain more uplifting, invigorating terpenes, while Indicas contain more relaxing, sedating terpenes. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much research done on cannabis-derived terpenes, but scientists are beginning to realize the depth of their benefit and medicinal value.