What are Terpenes and What is their Use?

by: Helena Miles
Content Manager, Greencamp

You might have noticed that not all strains smell the same. Pine, berry, mint…There’s more than a few distinctive fragrances in cannabis. Cannabis has a unique smell. Some people find it unpleasant and overwhelming, while most marijuana enthusiasts find it very calming and enjoyable. Just like any other plant, pot has components which are responsible for its unique aroma and flavor.

These components are terpenes, aromatic molecules of cannabis, secreted inside the tiny resin glands of cannabis flowers.

Terpenes produce a citrusy aroma in some strains, fruity and sweet notes in others and while some may smell and taste like lavender, others can be more earthy and pungent. Certain strains even smell like cheese. However, it’s not all about the smell.

Terpenes also produce a wide range of medical effects and that is exactly what’s so captivating about them in the first place. There are at least 80-100 terpenes unique to the cannabis plant and the combination of these chemicals and cannabinoids is responsible for the entire success of the cannabis plant as we know it.

Terpenes are organic chemicals produced by most plants and even some animals like swallowtail butterflies and termites. The term terpene is also often used to refer to terpenoids, which are oxygenated derivatives of terpenes.

The easiest way to understand them is to think of them as volatile aromatic molecules . What’s so special about these chemicals is that they give plants their unique aroma.

From the chemical point of view, terpenes are derived from the basic molecule of isoprene which replicates to make terpenes.
These substances have two very important roles in every plant’s life: to protect the flowers from predators and to produce resin.

They are a major part of resin and are heavily used in the production of essential oils, so they are a good fit for medical and beauty products. That is how terpenes made their way into the fragrance industry, as well as conventional and alternative medicine. They are most commonly used in aromatherapy, but they’re also synthetically made as flavors and aromas and as food additives.

There are a few more fun facts about terpenes: natural rubber is made of terpenes, as are many steroids. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to know that an organic and completely natural maple syrup contains about 300 terpenes, which makes it so yummy in the first place.

But what about cannabis?

Terpenes basically give each strain its unique smell and taste. Not only that but they also enhance the effects of cannabis by influencing how we process cannabinoids.

About Greencamp: Greencamp is a cannabis advocacy, education, and informational service. They have created an impressively complete informational regarding terpenes and their varied effects alone and in conjunction.

15 Cannabis Terpenes Explained (Complete Visual Guide)