What Are Terpenes and Why Are They So Important for Cannabis Growers?
As research and knowledge about marijuana biology expand, we come across new dimensions of our favorite plant. Cannabis users and growers across North America are eager to discover new ways to make their more savory and potent. Terpene content is the primary driver behind marijuana taste and smell. But what exactly are terpenes and how are they important to cannabis growers?
What are Terpenes?
According to popular marijuana publication High Times, the search term “terpene” is now Googledfive times morethan it was just two years ago. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we just recently discovered that terpenes exist! However, it is indeed only recently that we found out more about their exact role on cannabis plants.
Terpenes are scientifically classified “as unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants.” These organic compounds are mainly found in coniferous plants (and even some insects), that produce them to defend themselves against their natural predators. Terpenes should not be confused with terpenoids, which are part of a more complex system. Terpenes are the building blocks of plant turpentine, that is distilled from live resin.
To put it simply, terpenes are the essential oils that regulate the smell and the taste of cannabis. If you’ve ever wondered why fruity strains smell suspiciously like blueberry, lemon, or strawberry the answer lies within the glands that produce other cannabinoids. There are hundreds of different terpenes, and their fluctuations produce different flavor profiles.
What makes terpenes even more interesting when it comes to marijuana plants, is their ability to interact with the human endocannabinoid system and enhance the effect of other compounds via the “entourage effect.” According to the Director of R&D at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Insitute Dr.Ethan Russo, terpenes can “strengthen and broaden clinical applications and improve the therapeutic index of cannabis extracts.”
Why Are Terpenes Important to Cannabis Growers
As one can easily imagine, terpene content adds an exciting aspect to the marijuana growing and extraction process. Of course, enhancing the production of terpenes will not increase the potency of the final product. However, it can alter the quality of the effect that THC and CBD have on the body, as well as the perceived potency of a strain.
Essentially, terpenes are (or at least, should be) an important part of every grow, as their content and balance are what gives a strain its particular bouquet. Especially when it comes to craft cannabis and high-end cannabis products, exquisite flavor and a pungent smell should be an indispensable part of the deal. Careful extraction methods and proper storage are just some of the most important factors in terpene preservation.
Terpenes are just a part of a more holistic cannabis experience, valued by connoisseurs and enthusiasts. Given that cannabinoids and terpene contents are usually volatile and fluctuate, growers should include charts indicating the terpene profile of a plant, along with the THC and CBD measurements. The rest, as they say, is a matter of personal preference!