Have you ever gazed at a fresh hemp flower wondering what could be going on in something so small and delicate? Okay, maybe you would have more deep thoughts while smoking weed rather than analyzing it critically, but there is a science to how cannabis influences your body. Cannabis terpenes play a crucial role in how cannabis works and affects the body.
By now, you may have heard of common terms associated with marijuana, such as THC and CBD, which are responsible for its medicinal properties and other desirable effects. However, there is another element that is as well-loved but often overlooked.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes found in cannabis buds give us that addicting aroma and flavor we enjoy while blowing a puff, and it does so much more that completes our experience with weed. Learn more about what cannabis terpenes do as we run through its background, benefits, and how you can enhance the terpene content in your flower.
There are lots of properties that go into a cannabis flower to give us the most satisfying experience, as little as it may seem. THC and CBD are common features mentioned when you check out different strains on the market, but another important feature to cannabis plants are terpenes.
To choose which strain best addresses your needs, smelling the flower alone can help determine which one is the right remedy for you. Aromas such as citrus, fruit, pine, and herbal usually have certain effects associated with them so you can make better decisions and get the most out of your experience.
Background: How do Cannabis Terpenes Work
Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons found in fresh cannabis flowers. They’re secreted by the glands of the flower in the form of oils with a usually powerful aroma. Our bodies can’t breakdown and absorb terpenes in its initial form, so if you have purchased pre-packed weed that’s ready to smoke, it appears frail and dry. This is because the buds have undergone a curing process to convert the terpenes and terpenoids, a “digestible” version of it, by exposing the flower to light and heat.
As the plant grows, cannabis terpenes work as a natural defense system. The compound works to repel pests and inhibit the growth of mold and fungi. It also fights other common diseases that affect cannabis plants. The aroma then invites pollinators to help with reproduction.
A single cannabis plant can contain up to a hundred types of terpenes, but only one or two will be more dominant over the rest, which is identified by the aroma of the flower.
Here are some common, occurring terpenes in cannabis plants and popular favorites too:
- Limonene, an aromatic citrus terpene
- Myrcene, common in sweet, fruit-scented strains. Strains high in myrcene content are often pure indica or dominant-indica strains
- Pinene, a pine or wood-scented strain
Other terpenes that you can also find with the aforementioned items include Caryophyllene, Humulene, and Linalool.
What Benefits Do We Get from Terpenes?
Each of the common dominant terpenes also comes with benefits to match their sweet and sometimes pungent aroma. These are the effects often observed with these terpenes:
- To uplift your mood, ease anxiety, and manage other mood disorders, try citrus-scented strains of the Limonene terpene
- To fight stress and relieve body aches and pain, myrcene in fruit-scented strains should do the trick
- Earthy, wood, and pine aromatic strains containing pinene enhance focus and alertness, and also contains anti-inflammatory properties
Most terpenes, though, do put the mind and body in a euphoric and relaxing state by increasing the production of hormones such as serotonin and dopamine while alleviating stress and tension in the body.
Terpenes serve as the filter of THC to reduce its adverse effects on the body, such as causing anxiety and migraines. This is known as the entourage effect.
Depending on the strain, terpenes produced by cannabis can have different effects.
Terpene wheels have been designed to assist patients with selecting a strain appropriate for their treatment, while also helping consumers and breeders with how they cross strains and purchase them based on their needs.
How to Extract Cannabis Terpenes
To extract and enhance the effects of terpenes, you may either decarboxylate them by baking them in the oven or use a portable vaporizer. These processes often require high heat but may vary depending on the strain. The temperature you set to vaporize or decarb your cannabis can affect the strength of the effects experienced with it, so we advise you to seek advice from a trusted dealer or from a friend who may have tried this before.
Nonetheless, you can always purchase a pack that you can roll and light up right away. If you want to get busy in the kitchen, decarbing with an oven is the easiest and most cost-efficient route to take. Here’s a simple tutorial on how you can get those terpenes to really come through:
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper or aluminum foil
- Weed Grinder
- Fresh cannabis flower of your choice
- Baking oven
- Begin by preheating your oven at 121 degrees Celsius or 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If your flowers are still whole, you will need to crush them first. You can do this by hand or use a weed grinder if you don’t want your hand to get dirty. Break the flower into small bits, and avoid crushing to fine dust. You want the texture to be coarse with visible particles, so you don’t dissolve any terpenes in it.
- Lay your parchment paper or aluminum foil flat on the baking sheet. Spread the crushed cannabis flower over it.
- Seal the baking sheet with aluminum foil then let it bake for an hour, check time after time by peeling the aluminum foil until you see the buds turn golden brown.
- Take out the baking sheet and let the decarbed flower cool. Transfer it to an airtight container and store in a cool and dry place away from light. Smoke and enjoy.
Other methods you can try are with a freezer bag or by baking in the oven using a mason jar to lock in the aroma.
Cannabis terpenes give off the signature scent each cannabis strain has by excreting aromatic oils. They also protect plants from pests and diseases caused by harsh conditions and environmental stress. Benefits we enjoy from terpenes are it’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, along with stress relief, reducing anxiety and depression, while it also uplifts our mood by increasing the production of dopamine and serotonin in the body.