What are terpenes, and what do they do?
Terpenes are aromatic phytochemicals that are present in all plants. Cannabis has very high concentrations of terpenes which modulate the flavor, smell, and even the effect of a given strain.
Common terpenes found in cannabis include a-pinene (pine flavor with an uplifting effect), caryophyllene (peppery flavor with a sedative effect), linalool (lavender/ floral flavor with a calming effect), myrcene (musky/fruity flavor with a calming effect), and terpinolene (“fresh” herbaceous flavor with a relaxing effect).
Our current understanding of terpenes is all based on studies of isolated compounds, so we don’t actually know very much about how terpenes interact with one another to define a strain’s unique flavor and effects, but it’s widely believed that understanding terpene content is more valuable for cannabis users than going off of THC percentages.
Unfortunately, very few cannabis producers test the terpene content of their products, and even less list the actual terpene content on their product packaging, so it’s up to the consumer to experiment with different strains and terpene profiles and learn what works best for their unique needs.