Cannabis users come to love their favorite strains for a multitude of reasons. Whether due to flavor, scent, or effects, cannabis is a remarkable plant that's just starting to get the recognition it deserves.
Along with this recognition also comes a deeper understanding of cannabis and the mechanisms at work whenever you enjoy a go-to strain or bake your favorite treats. Like cannabis odor, the plant's many essential oils and cannabinoids are complex, and experts are only now beginning to scratch the surface of cannabis science.
One debate that has begun to circulate as states continue to legalize marijuana and dispensaries become commonplace in cities across the country, is whether a strain's high is dependent on strain type or the effects of terpenes and cannabinoids. If you're curious about a favorite strain's terpene profile read our deepdive into the world of terpenes, cannabinoids, and more!
Just like scent and flavor, the effects of terpenes also vary across strains. While it's still uncertain whether or not the terpenes in cannabis strains produce different types of highs, it is well established that terpenes do affect the brain.
According to the cannabis experts at Diem, terpenes affect the receptor centers in our bodies. Depending on the receptor, this can cause any number of responses from anti-inflammation to increases in dopamine. And each terpene binds in its own unique way.
Myrcene, for example, is the most common terpene found in commercial cannabis and may produce a calming or relaxed high. This terpene is also found in plants like lemongrass and hops, and has been used as a natural sleep-aid and muscle relaxant throughout history, as reported by Leafly.
While there is no concrete evidence to suggest that smoking a myrcene-dominant strain induces sleepiness, this historical context could help shape and inform research into the effect of terpenes and cannabis use.
There's an innumerable amount of terpenes in the plant world--too many for us to name within this article. But in terms of cannabis, and specifically commercial cannabis, the list of terpenes is much shorter and contains some key players that show up rather frequently.
The most common terpenes in cannabis include Limonene, Caryophyllene, Pinene, Myrcene, and Terpinolene. Each one of these terpenes has its own unique scent and flavor profile, and effects. Check out our list of terpenes below to find out more about which terpenes are found in some of the most common marijuana strains on the market:
Limonene (Lm) naturally occurs in orange and lemon rind. It's a highly aromatic terpene that is often categorized as citrusy. Outside of cannabis use, researchers have found one of the effects of this terpene to be an elevated mood when taken in large doses, and potentially even anti-fungal properties.
While much research is still needed to understand limonene's role in the cannabis high, as a strain terpene, limonene is found most commonly in these popular marijuana types:
As a slight departure from lemon and citrus rinds, caryophyllene (Cr) is found in black pepper, clove, and cinnamon. This terpene is unique in a lot of ways. For one, it has a different molecular structure and binds to receptors differently than the other most common terpenes in the cannabis industry.
Unlike other terpenes that bind with receptors in the central nervous system, caryophyllene's large molecular structure allows it to bind with endocannabinoid receptors. This gives caryophyllene powerful pain-relief and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Check out common strains with caryophyllene below:
Pinene (Pn) is another common terpene with a very descriptive name. Pinene, as you may have guessed, is found primarily in pine needles. It is the most commonly occurring terpene in nature, and also a very prevalent cannabis strain terpene as well.
Like limonene, pinene is believed to also have some anti-anxiety effects as well as pain relief. Where pinene differentiates itself among other strain terpenes though, is its possible effects on the respiratory system and the ability to open airways. Here are some popular, pinene-dominant strains:
Among commercial cannabis strains, myrcene (Mc) is the most prevalent terpene in the marijuana market. Additionally, myrcene is also found in hops and lemongrass and can be categorized as having a balsam and spice fragrance.
Myrcene is found in many very popular strains and its effects have often been described as calming. If you aren't sure whether you've ever tried a myrcene-dominant strain, odds are the flower you purchase form the dispensary contains some level of this prevalent terpene. Check out common Mc strains below:
Terpinolene (Te), like limonene, is also a citrusy terpene, but, unlike its lemony counterpart, terpinolene also appears in nutmeg, cumin, and even lilac. This chameleon-like scent profile allows Te to show up as citrus-forward in some strains and floral in others.
In terms of effects, like most cannabis research, a lot is still unknown about the way terpenes affect cannabis users when it's smoked or ingested. What is known about terpinolene, however, is its antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it a common ingredient in hand soap and cleaning products, as reported by Leafly.
Find out more about common strains with terpinolene below:
We've covered a lot of ground in this profile of the most common terpenes in cannabis, and while it's evident that terpenes come with a lot of benefits, they can also contribute to the unique stink of marijuana that many deem unpleasant.
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