It seems like everyone in the cannabis world is talking about terpenes, terpenoids, and terpene profiles. But what exactly are these compounds listed on the outside of cannabis packaging? Do they get you high? Let’s find out.
What Are Terpenes?
Here’s the simple terpenes definition. Terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic molecules that are found in plants. Have you ever stopped to appreciate the smell of a blooming lavender bush? What you’re actually smelling are the plant’s terpenes. In the case of lavender, the predominant terpene is linalool.
Plants evolved to produce terpenes for several different reasons depending on the plant itself. Some plants are rich in sweet-smelling floral terpenes that attract pollinators. Others give off bitter odors to ward off herbivorous predators.
Many people instantly associate terpenes with cannabis since the plant has such a high concentration of them. What smells do you think of when you imagine opening a bag of bud? A strong skunky fragrance with deep earthy undertones and subtle notes of citrus? That’s the terpenes! While the aroma of cannabis is instantly recognizable to anyone who’s been around it, the smell can vary drastically from strain to strain. That’s because different strains have unique combinations of terpenes. We call this combination a terpene profile.
What Do Terpenes Look Like?
Cannabis, especially high-quality or artisanal cannabis, has a spattering of frosty crystalline structures on the outside of its flowering buds. These are called trichomes, and they contain all the best parts of the plant, including cannabinoids like THC or CBD, and terpenes.
What Are Terpenes Used For?
Cannabis-derived terpenes do more than just smell good; they may also have a myriad of medicinal and therapeutic benefits.
Think about aromatherapy, for example. This holistic healing technique directly utilizes the power of terpenes to help relax the mind, body, and spirit. Terpene oil gets mixed with other compounds to create essential oils. Even something as common as a lavender bath bomb is employing terpenes therapeutically.
Studies suggest that terpenes have potent antimicrobial properties as well as significant antioxidant activity. One 2007 study even found that the terpene limonene has anti-cancer and tumor-inhibiting characteristics.
To answer the question posed in the title, no, terpenes themselves can not get you high. However, the terpene profile of a particular strain can have an effect on your cannabis experience.
The entourage effect refers to a phenomenon where the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes enhance each other. For example, the cannabinoids CBG and CBD have antimicrobial properties similar to the terpene pinene. When using a cannabis product containing CBD, CBG, and pinene, all three compounds’ antimicrobial effects are enhanced.
Are Terpenes Legal?
Unlike cannabis, terpenes are completely legal in all parts of the world.
How To Use Terpenes
The most straightforward way to use terpenes is to use a strain of cannabis, like the hemp found in E1011 Labs’ stelo™, that are naturally rich in terpenes. If you live in a state where cannabis is legal, your local budtender can help you find strains with an abundance of a particular terpene.
Alternatively, if you perform a search for terpenes for sale to find concentrated forms of the compounds. These can be added to various products like cannabis concentrates, beverages, or even flower. When adding terpene oil to a product, the key thing to remember is that they are extremely potent and a little bit goes a long way—emphasis on a little. Too much terpene oil can easily become overwhelming and ruin the product they’ve been added to.