Terpenes 101: Deep Dive Into Terpinolene

If you’ve spent any time in dispensaries, or around cannabis in general, then you’ve likely heard a lot of people mention terpenes. But what exactly are these curious compounds, and what do they have to do with weed?Today, we’ll take a long look at one of our favorite terps out there — terpinolene. But first, let’s go over some basic background info. 

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes in cannabis plants

Terpenes are small aromatic molecules found in almost all species of plants. These tiny compounds provide all the smells we love in flowers, herbs, and spices. The subtle floral fragrance of a freshly picked rose — that’s terpenes. The spicy scent of ground black pepper — also terpenes. The natural sour citrus smells in a juicy lemon — you guessed it, terpenes! Plants originally developed these pungent molecules as an evolutionary quirk that helped ensure the survival of certain species. Sweet-smelling terps helped plants attract pollinators, while bitter or spicy terpenes help ward off potential predators.The cannabis plant can potentially have tons of different terpenes depending on the specific genotype and phenotype. This multitude of various terpenes contributes to the infamously nuanced aroma of cannabis, where earthy muskiness often combines with sweet fruit and skunky petrol aromas.

Do Terpenes Get You High?

Terpenes will not get you high

Why is the cannabis community all about terpenes? Do they get you high? Not exactly. Terpenes are non-intoxicating, and consuming them on their own won’t produce any psychoactive effects. However, preliminary research suggests that they may play a significant role in what’s known as the entourage effectEssentially, the entourage effect is a theory that suggests different compounds in cannabis, mainly cannabinoids, and terpenes, work together synergistically to enhance each compound’s individual benefit. For example, while many terpenes have anti-inflammatory properties, those properties may become even more potent when combined with another anti-inflammatory agent like the cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD). So, while terpenes themselves don’t get you high, they may play a role in shaping the overall psychoactive experience when combined with THC. 

Terpene Benefits

In addition to smelling nice and encouraging the entourage effect, a growing body of research suggests that terpenes have several medicinal applications. Some curative terpene properties include:

  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Antiseptic
  • Antibacterial 
  • Anti-anxiety 
  • Antioxidant 
  • Anti cancer
  • Antimicrobial

People have used terpenes in various forms of folk medicine for centuries. Now, modern science is starting to uncover the true efficacy of these compounds. 

What Is Terpinolene?

Now, we get to our terpene of the day — terpinolene! Certain terpenes are strongly associated with the smells of specific plants. For example, limonene and citrus or pinene and pine needles. Terpinolene, however, is a bit of a jack of all trades. It’s found in all sorts of common plants, foods, and spices. This includes cumin, apples, nutmeg, and lilacs.It’s hard to pin the aroma of terpinolene into a single category, as it has several characteristics similar to other terpenes. It’s sort of like an amalgam of some of our favorite terps. It’s piney, but a little citrusy too. It’s herbaceous and skunky but also a bit floral.

Terpinolene Benefits

Terpinolene Benefits and cannabis

Like other terpenes, terpinolene may have several potential medicinal and therapeutic applications. Some terpinolene effects include possibly helping reduce the chance of heart disease and inhibiting cancer cell growthOne 2013 study found that terpinolene produced sedative effects in mice, suggesting it could help treat insomnia in humans. Research also indicates that terpinolene has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidative effects.   

Strains With Terpinolene

Terpinolene shows up in many different strains of cannabis. However, it’s usually in small amounts — acting more as a supporting player than a lead role. That said, there are certain strains that tend to have larger percentages of terpinolenHere aree’s some of our favorites:

  • Jack Herer: Named for the famed activist, this classic cannabis strain boasts potent THC percentages, and skews heavily on the energizing side of the spectrum. 
  • Dutch Treat: Dutch Treat originates from the renowned cannabis cafes in Amsterdam and is a powerful hybrid strain perfect for those looking for a balanced bud.
  • XJ-13: No, this isn’t the name of Elon Musk’s and Grime’s most recent child. XJ-13’s actual parents are Jack Herer and G13 Haze. Similar to the father strain Jack Herer, XJ-13’s effects are known to be very stimulating and cerebral. 

  • Do you have a favorite terpinolene-rich strain of cannabis? Let us know on Twitter!