Imagine you are walking into San Francisco’s Japanese Gardens. You are surrounded by the most pristinely pruned plants and trees. As you pass by roses, lavender, and eucalyptus you walk across a small bridge over the glass calm pond. You can’t help but notice the smells gracefully entering into your nose. You glance out your periphery over the next few moments to enjoy the garden aesthetic and you begin to feel more calm, and more relaxed. A subtle yet noticeable difference.

In this example, live chemical evaporating chains coming from the trees and plants are the smells of terpenes. You are now connected to those plants through that chain of molecules. When those chains get into your body through your nose you absorb those terpenes exhibited (aromatherapy).

It is terpenes that create the “indica” and “sativa” effects in cannabis!

People are generally less familiar with terpenes than cannabis: however, terpenes are vital to the psychoactive and physiological effects of cannabis. Like cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and stimulate effects like relieving pain, aiding sleep, and reducing inflammation.

“Terpenes play a vital role in the plant kingdom; they deter insect predation, protect plants from environmental stresses, and act as building blocks for more complex molecules, such as cannabinoids. Many terpenes act synergistically with other varieties of terpenes, and some either catalyze or inhibit formation of different compounds within a plant. Understanding how terpenes function allows scientists to manipulate cannabinoids to desired ratios.” 

Terpenes have been used for things like aromatherapy in doctor’s offices to casino floors using them to create better gambling experiences. Terpenes are everywhere, 20,000 registered worldwide, and the general public concedes that they have medicinal benefits.

In Cannabis, hundreds of different compounds exist and each cultivar (strain) is different. The ratios of these compounds together create what is known in the cannabis community as the “entourage effect”. Meaning that one cannabinoid, let us say THC, when taken alone will certainly get you high, but when you smoke or vape the same THC with something else, let us say CBD, you will notice a different effect. Marinate on that for a sec.

Now, same scenario, same levels of THC and CBD. Then you spice it up adding terpenes such as myrcene (earthy) and Linalool (lavender) to your entourage, you again may notice a difference, overwhelmingly in taste but also maybe a couch lock or sedated type of high. Depending on whether your body likes these particular terpenes, there is a greater chance for a more pleasant experience and better flavor of smoke.

What we have seen at cannabis cups over the last 5–10 years is that the winners are increasingly testing high in terpene content. The highest levels of THC cultivars are not necessarily taking home gold. Instead, the cultivars with the highest terpene content are coming out the winner. Many are reaching 5% in terpenes! Many attribute these wins to better entourage effects and more desirable ratios of cannabinoids and terpene profiles.

We think that in the next 5 years the average person will know their 2–3 favorite terpenes tailored for their different activities. The customer (you) will increasingly be looking for a little CBD to buffer some of the negative side-effects of high THC; such as short-term memory loss and anxiety.

When Moonflower selects its flower products for you, we make sure there is a robust (terpene) profile because we know THC isn’t everything. As category 3 testing comes online this year, 2019, terpenes will be front and center and terpene content will be on full display if brands choose to test for it. People will figure out what they like and as experimentation and consumer tastes begin to be refined, so will the conversation and education.

Food for thought:

Remember: When choosing your flower, “Your nose knows” what your body likes, so like your gut, trust it.

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