What are terpenes exactly?
And why do people like to mix terpenes with recreational cannabis and medical marijuana?
Though you may not know what terpenes are, if you’ve ever stopped to smell a flower or sniff an essential oil, you already have experience with them.
First, What Are Terpenes?
This guide will help you learn all about what terpenes are and how to use them safely (and enjoyably).
Every plant, including ones that bear fruit and herbs, contain their own oils.
These essential oils, as they’re known, often have a rich, fragrant smell.
In nature, these distinguishable scents help attract the right insects to promote pollination and also ward off predators and plant eaters, depending on the situation.
They also help plants create resin which can then be used and extracted to make essential oils and terpenes.
When consumed, inhaled, or applied directly to your skin, these oils can offer medicinal benefits and natural relief.
Similar to most plants, marijuana also contains naturally high levels of terpenes.
The powerful aroma you smell from each strain comes from the terpenes found deep within the plant’s layers.
Terpenes in different marijuana strains all smell unique and distinctive.
So whether you’re sniffing a cheesy hybrid or a blueberry strain, you can thank terpenes for that dank, floral, or skunky smell.
But terpenes aren’t only sought after for their scents.
Terpenes can also affect how you feel since they bind to some of the same receptors in your brain cannabinoids found in cannabis do.
And this effect is even stronger when combined with cannabinoids like CBD and THC.
How Terpenes Affect Cannabis:
The Entourage Effect
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD can be mixed with different terpenes to enhance the effects of both, which is known as The Entourage Effect.
Terpenoids, or the combination of terpenes and cannabinoids, produce a completely different experience depending on the strains.
For some it can elevate their high while others use terpenes to enhance the medicinal benefits of their cannabis.
Certain terpenoids can also suppress specific receptors in the brain to combat issues like anxiety, depression, and pain.
Here are the terpenes you’ll most often encounter.
Top 10 Most Used Terpene Types
There are between 80 and 100 different terpene types, each with their own rich and unique flavor profile.
These 10 terpenes are the most popularly used:
The terpenes in bold (Humulene, Beta-Caryophyllene, and Pinene) each have anti-inflammatory effects.
Others, such as Limonene, can be more energizing and used for their antidepressant and antianxiety qualities.
Limonene can also help with acid reflux and may be able to enhance your mood while also providing a bit of stress relief.
Myrcene remains very popular since it:
- Boosts the effects of THC
- Offers pain relief thanks to analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties
- Increases sleepiness and relaxation
- Contains antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic benefits
Here’s a breakdown of the other common types of terpenes:
- Pinene reduces inflammation and helps with asthma, memory retention, and alertness. Pinene is also common in Chinese Medicine and used for its anti-cancer benefits.
While more research is needed, so far scientists believe Pinene may be able to reduce the effects of THC specifically if you’re only using marijuana for the health effects and not the “high”.
- Linalool offers calming and sedative effects. One study discovered it can help combat inflammation in smoker’s lungs by preventing the carcinogens from being absorbed into their bloodstream. This is great news for anyone who smokes cannabis, not just cigarettes.
Linalool may also give your immune system a natural boost and can help Alzheimer’s patients as well. In this study, researchers learned Linalool may be able to prevent Alzheimer’s from developing and improve cognitive functioning in those already diagnosed.
- Humulene may help with pain relief and contains both antibacterial and appetite suppressing properties.
When combined with this next terpene, the anti-inflammatory benefits of Humulene are intensified.
- Caryophyllene reduces muscle spasms and pain, helps combat insomnia and inflammation, and also contains antioxidants. What’s even better, Caryophyllene does not create any physical side effects, making it a safer alternative for pain management.
One study also found it can help reverse the negative side effects on kidneys that chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin bring on.
And another body of research discovered Caryophyllene terpenes may offer arthritis pain relief too.
- Terpineol has a light, floral fragrance and is usually paired with terpenes containing higher levels of Pinene.
Terpineol is known as a calming and relaxing terpene that also boasts antibiotic and antioxidant qualities too.
- Delta-3-Carene can be helpful for keeping mucus at bay, but may also be irritating for some people and cause an itchy, dry throat and coughing.
While all these terpenes sound interesting, you should understand a few facts about using them before you decide to crank up your levels.
Terpene Levels And Finding the Right Mix
Since terpenes can enhance or suppress the effects of cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, it pays to view the complete profile of each marijuana strain before making a decision.
It’s also good to note that the highest levels of terpenes can be found in butane hash oil.
However, you don’t want to go too crazy here because a little goes a long way.
Terpene extracts should always be diluted so you don’t exceed the 40% ratio.
Anything over 40% terpenes is going to result in an unpleasant experience, especially when used in a device like a vape pen.
How to Use Terpenes Safely
Terpene extracts can be used safely in a variety of ways:
#1. Add a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser or to a vape pen. When using the latter, be sure to keep a low heat rather than a higher temperature since terpenes can be destroyed if they get too hot.
#2. Terpenes can be applied topically although they should never be applied to your skin without first being diluted.
To do this, you can mix a few drops of your chosen terpene with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
#3. You can consume terpenes but only terpenes specifically approved for ingestion and consumption. Since not all of them are, you’ll need to do your homework when it comes to sourcing.
Find Terpenes Sourced From The Purest Ingredients
You should always choose terpenes made from high-quality sources that are free of cheap fillers, chemicals, and additives.
Otherwise, you could find yourself with unwanted headaches and adverse side effects instead of the relief you’re looking for.