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What are Terpenes and How Do They Affect Your High?


Cannabis has a distinctive smell that can be recognized by connoisseurs and nonsmokers alike. The unique smell is created by aromatic compounds, called terpenes, that contribute to a strain’s scent, flavor, and its effects on the body and mind.   

While cannabis has traditionally been categorized as indica, sativa, or hybrid, these classifications don’t tell the whole story.  

If you want to know exactly what to expect when you smoke a strain of cannabis flower, pay attention to the terpene ratios. 

A terpene ratio is a high-level overview of the dominant terpenes in your herb. Without terpene ratios to compare, it is difficult to know what each strain is going to do for you. You may end up buying a kush to feel relaxed, but when you smoke it, you end up with too much energy to handle.  

As science progresses, the cannabis industry will be shifting from the standard indica, sativa, or hybrid model of classification for a more sophisticated look at what’s inside. If you want to keep up with the industry and know the ins-and-outs of your flower, continue reading about terpene effects.

What are Terpenes?

Cannabis terpenes are aromatic oils that are secreted from the same glands that produce cannabinoids, like CBD and THC. They have distinctive flavor profiles such as citrus, pine, and herbal aromas that add therapeutic value based on their unique medicinal properties.  

Due to legislation and current laws, we are not allowed to fully educate users on the true benefits of these terpenes. We are only able to express what characteristics one may feel while inhaling cannabis smoke that includes these terpenes. 

What are the most common terpenes?

Terpenes have a diverse flavor profile that can treat a variety of ailments. Terpenes can be found throughout nature, but there are a few that are abundant in strains of weed.   

  • Myrcene: Myrcene, pronounced MUR-seen, is the most common terpene found in today’s commercial cannabis. It is known for its calming effects and can be found in legendary strains such as Granddaddy Purple and OG Kush. Myrcene can also be found in thyme, mango, and lemongrass.  
  • Limonene: Limonene is the second most popular terpene known for its anxiety and stress-relieving properties. You can find it in the skins of citrus fruits and can likely guess what traits it offers smokers. Limonene is great for energizing or adding life to experiences. Popular strains with limonene include Berry White, White Fire OG, and Wedding Cake.  
  • Caryophyllene: Caryophyllene, pronounced carry-OFF-uh-leen, is a unique terpene found in black pepper, cloves, and hops. What makes caryophyllene interesting is its ability to act as a cannabinoid, activating our endocannabinoid system to help with inflammation and sleep. You can find it in strains like Bubba Kush, Sour Diesel, and Chemdog. 

Which terpenes are best for specific effects? 

While many people believe smoking weed is only a relaxing experience, there are terpene profiles for every type of mood. Continue reading for more information on what terpenes you should consider for energy, anxiety, or sleep.  

Best Terpenes for Energy

When your energy levels are feeling low, you’ll want to find strains of weed with terpineol, pinene, and limonene to help pick you up. These terpenes are great at relieving stress, improving alertness, and elevating moods. You can find them in popular strains like Jack Herer, Super Lemon Haze, and Alien OG. 

Best Terpenes for Anxiety

If you suffer from bouts of anxiety, caryophellene, myrcene, and linalool are the terpenes that will help to calm you down. They promote pain relief, relaxation, anti-inflammatory effects, and can even decrease aggression that comes with agitated moods. Find these terpenes in calming strains like Harlequin, Bubba Kush, and White Widow. 

Best Terpenes for Sleep

When you have a hard time going to sleep, reach for strains with terpinolene, caryophellene, and phytol. These terpenes have been known to increase the level of REM sleep, reduce the urge to become active (perfect for restless leg syndrome), and improve the duration of sleep. For some of the sleepiest strains you can smoke, look for Cherry Pie, Super Sour Diesel, and Northern Lights. 

Each cannabis strain has a variety of terpenes and cannabinoids that work together to produce a unique high. While in the past you may have bought weed based on the name, in the future you will buy it based on the ratio of terpenes and the medical benefits it offers.  

The key to predicting your highs is knowing the terpene ratios of your cannabis. Growers are crossbreeding new strains every day – it’s time we switch from the old labels of indica, sativa, or hybrid and make way for terpenes. 

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