This smell of cannabis is unmistakable, in a way few other odors are. It’s a complex aroma—skunky but also sweet like fruit, earthy, but with pungent notes of petrol. While not all cannabis strains smell the same, there’s a universality to the fragrance of cannabis that makes it instantly recognizable to anyone who has experience with the plant.
Cannabis’ distinct scent is the product of all the terpenes contained in the plant. Today, we’ll learn a little about these terpenes in general and do a deep dive into one terpene in particular—humulene. Keep reading to find out more!
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are tiny aromatic molecules found in all sorts of different plant species. When you peel an orange, and a rich tangy citrus smell tickles your olfactory senses, you’re smelling terpenes.
Chemically speaking, terpenes are made up of simple five carbon isoprene units. We break different terpenes down into categories depending on how many of the isoprene units they contain. Monoterpenes have 2 isoprene units, sesquiterpenes have 3 isoprene units, diterpenes have 4 isoprene units, and triterpenes have 6 isoprene units.
Plants evolved to develop these aromatic molecules to help propagate and avoid getting eaten. Sweet-smelling terpenes help plants attract pollinators, while bitter or spicy terpenes discourage herbivorous predators from snacking. Ironically, some of these defensive terpenes meant to ward off predators are responsible for the culinary applications of certain herbs and spices.
Do Terpenes Get You High?
Even though almost all plants on this planet have terpenes, we commonly associate terpenes with cannabis. That’s because the cannabis plant, in particular, is super rich in terpenes. We know of hundreds of different terpenes that potentially can be present in the cannabis plant. This smorgasbord of terpenes is what gives cannabis its characteristically complicated scent.
Even though we heavily associate terpenes with cannabis, terpenes themselves don’t produce any intoxicating effects. This means terpenes don’t get you high. However, the entourage effect theory suggests that terpenes may work synergistically with THC and impact the high you feel when you smoke weed.
Even though terpenes don’t get you stoned, they do more than just smell nice. Terpenes have played an integral role in traditional and folk medicine for centuries, and now modern science is starting to uncover the mechanisms that drive these medicinal properties.
Some of the common therapeutic properties that terpenes possess include:
- Anti cancer
What Is Humulene
Now that we have some basic background info on terpenes let’s turn our attention to our featured terpene humulene.
You’ve likely smelled the terpene humulene without even realizing it. It has a subtle aroma that’s predominantly woody but with musky undertones and notes of herbs and spice. It’s commonly found in several items you probably have sitting in your spice drawer right now—black pepper, sage, coriander, basil, hops, and of course, cannabis.
Like many other terpenes found in cannabis, humulene effects may have several medicinal and therapeutic applications.
For one, humulene has documented anti-inflammatory properties. Combining humulene with other anti-inflammatory cannabinoids like CBD could potentially make for a potent analgesic and help treat certain inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Humulene also functions as an appetite suppressant, which could help stave off the munchies when consuming THC-rich cannabis strains.
Additionally, one 2016 study determined that humulene combined with other cannabinoids and terpenes can inhibit tumor growth in rodents. While these anti cancer effects are extremely promising, we still need more research to confirm humulene’s efficacy as an anticancer agent.
Strains High In Humulene
Anxious to try humulene for yourself? Here are some of our favorite cannabis strains rich in humulene:
- Headband: This popular hybrid strain comes from two true cannabis classics—OG Kush and Sour Diesel. The tart petrol aromas of Sour Diesel shine brightly in headband, and the high THC content is perfect for users who want a rich intoxicating experience.
- Girl Scout Cookies (GSC): Girl Scout Cookies has won more awards than almost any other strain of cannabis out there—and for good reasons. Its full-body high is great for unwinding at night, and its desert-like flavor is positively mouth-watering.
- Deathstar: Another potent indica, Deathstar is a strain best enjoyed after you’ve finished with all your day’s responsibilities as the effects can be downright debilitating.
- Stelo™ Uplift: Designed for use with the elon®, this eco-friendly cartridge is filled with premium sun-grown hemp. Its expertly crafted terpene profile is designed to uplift and energize, so you can take on the day while staying relaxed.
Do you have a favorite humulene-rich cannabis strain? Let us know on Twitter!