Justin Alexander
Sep 07 2017 . 9 min read

Terps: A Pot-pourri of Taste and Aroma

Terps: A Pot-pourri of Taste and Aroma

Whether a patient or a recreational user, terpenes are dominating the cannabis experience

Whether a patient or a recreational user, terpenes are dominating the cannabis experience

With the multitude of terpenes available in cannabis, it is important to know what the health benefits are of each. By far the most dominant is myrcene which is well-known for its sedative quality. After that it’s a potpourri of terpenes that provide a potpourri of effects. From anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral and antidepressant properties to analgesic, anti-anxiety and antibiotic effects, there’s a terpene for just about every condition. 

The industry is becoming more and more aware of the capabilities of terpenes. Don Decatur, director of operations for City Trees, says he couldn’t be happier that the industry and the patients are really embracing the world of terps. “[There are] indicas that have uplifting effects as well as sativas that have relaxing effects,” he says. “The terpenes are what modulate the effects of THC and other cannabinoids. These are much more important than monikers that are more to differentiate growth traits rather than effects.”

Those monikers include the categories by which we have been identifying cannabis strains. “Sativa and indica only tell part of the story,” says Daniel Wacks, co-founder of State Flower Cannabis. “Considering that the majority of the commercially viable genetics are hybrids these days, it's important to look to other indicators, such as terpenes and some of the lesser known cannabinoids, for classification purposes.”

Read on as elevate checks out some of the market’s terpene-heavy products. 

Cherry AK from State Flower Cannabis

Although rich in the terpene myrcene at 13.24 mg, well-known to be a sedative, don’t be deceived by Cherry AK-47’s aggressive name. “The cherry phenotype of the classic AK-47 strain has many positive qualities,” Wacks says of the strain. “It is an effective analgesic and the terpene medical efficacy is similar to that of opium, only without the addiction. Myrcene is also known to have antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory qualities.” 

Myrcene’s sleep inducing quality depends on the amount. “Strains containing more than 0.5 percent Myrcene are sedative indicas; strains with less than 0.5 percent Myrcene are typically sativa,” offers Wacks. 

Another terpene, caryophyllene, also found in Cherry AK and testing in at 4.53 mg, is known as an antioxidant and is good for the treatment of muscle spasms, pain and insomnia.

State Flower Cannabis’ philosophy is that terpenes are just as important as cannabinoids and when they harvest their flower, the idea is to preserve both in equal value. “Terpenes are classified as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and they're as delicate as their name implies, which means we take every precaution possible—from harvesting early when trichome and terpenoid production is at its peak—to carefully handling our cannabis so that it never touches a bare hand until you open our packaging,” says Daniel Wacks, co-founder of State Flower Cannabis. 

Just when you were starting to understand terpenes, the next big thing will be flavonoids, according to Wacks. “The unique smell and flavor of a cannabis strain is actually produced in part by its flavonoids, the aromatic molecules with names like quercetin, luteolin and kaempferol,” he says. “These compounds are found in many plants but cannabis has their own unique class of them called cannaflavins, and they don’t just smell good, they are pharmacologically active as well. For example, cannaflavin A has been found to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the inflammatory molecule PGE-2, and it does this 30 times more effectively than aspirin.”

Medizin’s Mango Live Resin

An indica dominant strain testing at 69.25 percent THC, Mango Kush Live Resin relieves stress, depression, and pain. With its uplifting effects and delicious tropical mango flavor, it has become a go-to for concentrate lovers. 

One reason for its popularity is that Mango Kush Live Resin packs lots of the terpene that really delivers best for Las Vegas patients: Myrcene, at a hearty 19.2 mg. “Because of its sedative and relaxing indica-like effects, I do feel people love the medicinal qualities of myrcene after a long day in this city that never sleeps,” says Dave Farris, general manager of Medizin medical marijuana dispensary. 

Mango Kush also has 5.92 mg of limonene (elevated mood and stress relief) as well as low amounts of B-pinene (1.08 mg) and linalool (1.21 mg). 

When talking terps, Farris predicts that limonene is on the rise. “Many people love the sweet citrus aroma it translates,” he says. His favorite, however, in the ongoing conversation about the aromatherapy of cannabis, is linalool for its ability to reduce stress and deliver anti-anxiety benefits.

The+Source’s Sin City CBD vape

Sin City CBD vape embraces the notion that CBD works best in conjunction with THC to reduce negative side effects such as paranoia and anxiety while working in perfect harmony to reduce inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, spasms and many other ailments. It’s all the goodies in one package at a CBD:THC ratio of 1:2. 

But it’s not without a strong terpene profile of the ever-popular sleep-inducing myrcene with its earthy, clove-like aroma at 6.78 mg as well as caryophyllene (anti-anxiety and anti-depressant) at 7.17 mg, and 2.98 mg pinene (anti-inflammatory and natural bronchodilator). 

Terpenes are such an important factor that in taking flower to an oil, they can often be compromised if not treated carefully. “Through trial, error, testing and analytics, we have dialed in a process from extraction through post processing that allows us to preserve much of that original terpene profile that would otherwise be destroyed,” explains Sin City’s extraction specialist Mark Lucas, who notes while they can’t be created, they can be enhanced. “What I can do is use different techniques in the lab throughout the extraction and processing that will preserve as much of the natural terpene profile as possible.”

As for other popular terpenes, Lucas points to the interesting borneol terpene with a cool soothing scent that he describes as similar to camphor or eucalyptus. “It’s been used medicinally for ages as a natural anti-fungal and anti-oxidant. It’s also a natural pest repellent,” says Lucas. “Sometimes terpenes aren't there for their smell and they have some other purpose, in this case, keeping bugs away.” 

Personally, Lucas is also a fan of linalool for its sweet candy-like, floral aroma. “Found heavily in plants such as lavender and cocoa, it has been shown to be a major anti-inflammatory, so it helps with pain and arthritis,” he says. “Research has also shown linalool can help with anxiety and insomnia due to its sedative properties. Linalool also shows promise in helping fight cancer, MS, epilepsy, leukemia, and even acne.” 

Giddy Up Extracts’ Strawberry Fields Terp Sauce

“I have been saying for 20+ years that it is about the whole experience: smell, taste, and high,” says Tony Gentile, Nevada Medical Marijuana’s Head of Production. “Before I was aware of terpenes, I knew there was a therapeutic effect when you inhale and have a sensory overload from the flavor of the weed. Terpenes are a big part of cannabis but not one terpene is responsible for making any strain what it is.”

Strawberry Fields, as a strain, is known for relieving anxiety, asthma, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, depression, headaches, insomnia, migraines, muscle spasms and PTSD. With a rich terpene profile of myrcene (sedative) 14.6 mg, caryophyllene (anti-inflammatory and analgesic) 9.7 mg, humulene (anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory) 2.9 mg, limonene (elevated mood and stress relief) 1.3 mg, and linalool (anti-anxiety and antidepressant) 1.3 mg, Strawberry Fields offers users a rich variety of terpenes to treat numerous conditions. 

As far as looking into his terpene crystal ball, Gentile says there is still so much to be discovered. “Right now, the state of Nevada tests for 21 different terps and last time I checked there are 157 plus terps in the cannabis plant.”

Green and Gold Supply’s Kosher Kush

One of the ideal strains to mellow out those who are high-stress all the time is Kosher Kush. It has a rich and varied terpene profile of limonene (4.30 mg), b-caryophyllene (4.12 mg), and myrcene (1.78 mg) that come together to form a symphony that causes stress to slip away with every inhale.

“We spend a lot of time with medical patients and adult-use customers explaining terpene profiles and why they are important,” says Thrive Nevada’s Mitch Britten. 

While he somewhat agrees that the classifying of strains based on indica or sativa to denote the smoking experience is a bit dated, he says that it is still a convenient way for people to understand general categories. “As people start to understand how important terpenes are and the role they play, I think we’ll see the days of indica/sativa as main identifiers fade away.”

He isn’t quick though to jump on the idea of strains being named for their terpenes to make it easier for patients to find what they need. “Since I’ve been involved in the industry, I’ve seen fads come and go—people naming products for their effects versus naming them for their lineage, etc. I think the names are here to stay and people identify the feeling they want with a popular strain name,” concludes Britten.

City Trees’ Terpene-Infused Disposal Vape Pens

Named for what they are designed to do, City Trees’ vape pens relieve pain, induce relaxation, energize your mood, or inspire a blissful state. City Trees’ newly launched terpene-infused disposable vape line features pure distilled cannabis oil mixed with specific blends of terpenes to create and aid specific effects: pain, relax, bliss and energize. “Each one tastes amazing and parodies wonderful effect,” offers Don Decatur, director of operations for City Trees. 

City Trees’ Relax vape is aptly named with an impressive 54 mgs of myrcene. Other terpenes in its profile include linalool (14.65 mg), also a sedative, and d-limonene (5.95 mg), known for its calming effect. With a- and b-pinene as the dominant terpenes (20.30 mg and 13.61 mg, respectively) in City Trees’ Energize vape, it provides focus and alertness as primary characteristics. 

Decatur says he couldn’t be happier that the industry and the patients are really embracing the world of terps. “[There are] indicas that have uplifting effects as well as sativas that have relaxing effects,” he says. “The terpenes are what modulate the effects of THC and other cannabinoids. These are much more important than monikers that are more to differentiate growth traits rather than effects.”