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What are Terpenes & What Do They Do?

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You may have never heard the word “terpenes” before, but you’ve definitely encountered them in your lifetime. In this guide, we’ll explain:

  • What are Terpenes?
  • What Do Terpenes Do?
  • How are Terpenes Different From Cannabinoids?
  • What Types of Terpenes are There?
  • Do Terpenes Exist Outside of Cannabis?

Get to know other parts of the cannabis plant, like flavonoids and trichomes.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are unique compounds found in plants that give them their flavor and aroma. Cannabis plants are no exception either. Depending on the cultivar of cannabis, terpenes can vary wildly and produce unique scents, including grape, citrus, pine, and even diesel fuel, and flavors, such as peppery, sweet, citrusy, and woodsy.

What Do Terpenes Do?

Terpenes are unique little chemicals. In the plant, they serve a variety of important roles. Some terpenes actually attract pollinators to the plant, but other terpenes are designed to repel predators, including bugs and foraging animals that might eat them. Plus, terpenes can have protective qualities too. Some terpenes help plants recover from damage, other terpenes help protect a marijuana plant from harmful UV rays just like sunscreen does on our skin. And still, other terpenes actually work to keep the plant healthy by boosting the plant’s immune system.

How Are Terpenes Different From Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, are unique from terpenes in a variety of ways. For instance, cannabinoids do not have a distinct smell or flavor. Terpenes do. So, do terpenes have psychoactive properties like THC? By themselves, the answer is no.

However, while marijuana terpenes and cannabinoids are different, when consumed, they work together in the body to create the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the theory that cannabinoids and terpenes actually work together to create the effects we feel in our bodies when consuming cannabis.

Cannabinoids can be confusing. Check out our guide to cannabinoids today.

What Types of Terpenes Are There?

There are hundreds of different types of terpenes in cannabis and other plants, but there are a few that stand out from the rest. These terpenes have unique properties, and they are frequently cultivated for things like essential oils and household cleaning products. When it comes to a few of the most prominent ones, here is a list of terpenes:

Humulene: This terpene has been used for centuries, but we’ve only just started really trying to research and understand it. It is one of the primary terpenes in hops, and it is what gives beer that hoppy flavor.

Caryophyllene: This spicy, woodsy-scented terpene is found in a lot of household spices, including cinnamon and black pepper. In addition to common herbs and spices, this terpene is also found in a variety of popular marijuana cultivars.

Myrcene: Like with all terpenes, we’re continuing to study and understand myrcene, but there are a few things we know: it has a sweet, earthy scent that has a good chance of reminding you of mango—because myrcene gives mango its unique flavor.

Limonene: This is one of the most popular terpenes and what gives most household cleaning products its lemon scent aroma! Limonene is also a popular botanical insecticide because it repels certain bugs. This citrusy-scented terpene gives oranges and grapefruits their unique scent, and it does the same in certain marijuana cultivars.

Pinene: Another household product favorite, pinene has a sweet, woodsy aroma much like your favorite conifer. From candles to cleaning supplies and essential oils, pinene is found in a wide range of products.

There are other terpenes we’re keeping our eyes on, including linalool, terpineol, ocimene, valencene, and geraniol. Each of these terpenes is present in cannabis and is being studied for the potential of additional benefits.

Do Terpenes Exist Outside of Cannabis?

Yes! Terpenes are key compounds in most plants found in nature. They play important roles in the plant’s life, whether we’re talking about rosemary and basil or a cultivar of cannabis. While cannabinoids are unique to marijuana, terpenes are not—so remember that next time you craft a basil pesto pasta dish or scrub your kitchen floors. There’s a good chance those scents are coming from terpenes.

If you’re interested in learning about how terpenes work with some of your favorite cannabis products, talk to an expert at a Verilife dispensary near you.

Recreational Cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.

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