Terpenes are exciting the marijuana industry. Labs are testing terpene profiles in controlled environments. This is all new and exciting in the world of cannabis, but people have been talking about terps for a while. Most plants (and even some insects) contain terpenes. People have been testing and mapping coffee, wine, oranges – you name it.
So, what is a terpene exactly, and why should you care?
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are classified as organic compounds. Different strains of cannabis have a wide variety of smells and tastes. Many terpenes affect the aroma and flavor profile of your bud. By mapping out the terpene profiles, we can predict and manipulate them. Changing the smell and flavor is pretty cool, but it’s not even the most exciting part about terpene research.
Some terpenes have been found to have medicinal benefits. That means, there are non-psychoactive compounds that can be used to safely treat an array of medical conditions. There are a ton of different terpenes in cannabis, but here are 11 profiles you should know about.
- Flavor / Aroma – Citrus.
- Medicinal Uses – Limonene can be used to help promote weight loss, prevent and treat cancer, and treat bronchitis. It can also be used to make ointments and medicinal creams that penetrate the skin better.
- Strain – Perhaps you know Super Lemon Haze gets it’s name partially from the aroma, but did you know the smell is present because it contain’s Limonene?
- Flavor / Aroma – Earthy and musky with a hint of fruity flavors.
- Medicinal Uses – Myrcene has been shown to be an effective anti inflammatory. It also works as a sedative and muscle relaxer. This could possible contribute to the tired/stoney feeling often attributed to indicas.
- Strain – A Swiss study found that most of the strains they tested contains high levels of myrcene. One strain they tested, Lovrin 110, contained over 65% myrcene.
- Flavor / Aroma – Floral with a hint of spice. In addition to cannabis, linalool can be found in an array of flowers,mint, cinnamon, and even some fungi.
- Medicinal Uses – Can be used as an anti inflammatory. It also helps to modulate motor movements. Another study found that Linalool could be used to help treat liver cancer.
- Strain – A lab tested sample of Amnesia Haze showed slightly over 1% linalool.
4. Alpha Bisabolol
- Flavor / Aroma – Floral. Alpha bisabolol is also found in chamomile.
- Medicinal Uses – Can be used to heal wounds, fights bacteria, and can be used a deodorizer. Research suggests alpha bisabolol has been effective in treating a variety of inflammations.
- Strain – The Werc Shop analyzed a strain called ‘Oracle’ and found high levels of alpha bisabolol.
5. Delta 3 Carene
- Flavor / Aroma – Piney / earthy.
- Medicinal Uses – Studies have found Delta 3 Carene to be an effective anti inflammatory. It is also known to dry fluids like tears, running noses, and menstrual flows.
- Strain – A research study examined 162 marijuana plants, which represented over 80 strains. They detected carene in many of the samples.
- Flavor / Aroma – Earthy and camphor.
- Medicinal Uses – Borneol can be used as an analgesic, anti-insomnia, anti-septic, and bronchodilator.
- Strain – Dr. Mariano García de Palau claims that haze strains such as K13 contain high amounts of borneol.
7. Alpha-Pinene / Beta-Pinene
- Flavor / Aroma – Pine. This is, of course, partially where pine trees get their scent from.
- Medicinal Uses – Pinene has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Strain – One study examined 16 marijuana plants and found all the strains contained notable amounts of alpha-pinene and beta-pinene.
- Flavor / Aroma – Spicy. Eucalyptol is used as a cooking spice and fragrance.
- Medicinal Uses – Eucalyptol is used in a variety of products including cough suppressants, mouthwash, and body powder.
- Strain – Some cannabis strains contain eucalyptol, however, it is typically in very small amounts. An analysis of super silver haze showed .06% eucalyptol.
- Flavor / Aroma – Pine, clove.
- Medicinal Uses – Studies suggest cannabis-extracted terpineol contains antioxidant properties.
- Strain – A marijuana testing lab claims terpineol is a unique terpene found in Jack Herer and Jack crossbreeds.
- Flavor / Aroma – Hoppy. Cannabis and hops are basically cousins.
- Medicinal Uses – Studies suggest that caryophyllene may help treat anxiety and depression.
- Strain – Green House Seeds tested a hydroponic and a soil-grown specimen of Train Wreck. They found the soil grown cannabis contained .33% caryophyllene. The hydronic only contained .07% caryophyllene.
- Flavor / Aroma – Herbal.
- Medicinal Uses – Camphene has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and antibiotic characteristics.
- Strain – One study suggests camphene is significantly higher in concentration among ‘mostly indica’ strains.
How to Increase Terpenes in Marijuana
There is no shortage of ideas on how to manipulate terpene profiles. Some methods include using horticultural molasses, slightly stressing your plant regularly, or using any one of the commercial products available. Most of these come with mixed reviews.
In my opinion, what we need most right now is research. Once we have marijuana strains mapped out we can begin to breed plants in a way that produces more of a certain terpene.
The Future of Terpenes
There is still so much to learn about terpenes. Researchers will continue to map out different strains. Once terpenes have been identified researches can extract them and test clinically. Just thinking about the possible medical benefits is incredibly exciting. Get ready, because you are going to hear at lot of buzz about terpenes – if you haven’t already.
If you liked this article then here’s a few of my other article you may also enjoy:
It is pretty neat how you can manipulate the taste and smells of cannabis. What is even more amazing is this is another component that has medicinal properties to this amazing herb. It is too bad that the government decided if we were allowed to smoke or ingest this plant, all because some big company paid them to keep it illegal for so long. Thank you for this wonderful article to show this plant needs to be legalized nationwide, and not just for medicinal purposes. In 1973 Senator Shafer gathered evidence from doctors, cops, lawyers, people who used cannabis and went to other countries and found that marijuana was not a dangerous substance, it did not lead to harder drugs, it has many medicinal uses, and should not be a schedule 1 drug. Your article is just more proof.
I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I learned a lot about terpenes while researching the article so a lot of the benefits were new to me.
I agree – it’s terrible that the government has been keeping this from the public, but there’s good news. More and more states are approving medical marijuana so there is certainly progress.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Your article discusses the ways of identifying the Turpines present through odor, physical and psycho-active properties. and then illistrates how mapping will allow strains to be developed for specific treatments. “Excellent” -John Halverson RN
Could you please discuss the effects of heat and/or pressure when applied to organic materials, such as when using a Rosin Press to Extract THC Oils on the Turpines you discussed in your article?. Can I use increased pressure to reduce the amount of heat in my extraction process? Or, is a critical tempurature value neccesary to induce a liquid state?
Do I have to look at the boiling point of each indivisual Turpine
Thank you considering these questions
These are all very good questions and I wish I had the answers to all of them but unfortunately I’m a bit stumped. I’m gonna do some research and try to get back to you.
The Food & Drug Administration states that for a drug to be aevorppd for human use 1) The drug’s chemistry must be known and reproducible, 2) There must be adequate safety studies, 3) there must be adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy, 4) Acceptance by qualified experts is required, and 5) the scientific evidence must be widely available. There is simply no way to measure the dose or purity of smoked marijuana. Unless, of course, some of its more than 465 compounds are found to have medical benefit and can be extracted or replicated synthetically. Two of these, already available by prescription, are dronabinol and nabilone. Marijuana, like many plant and animal matter, contains compounds that, when isolated and purified, can have therapeutic effects. Today we find that even the deadly poison causing botulism has been isolated for therapeutic use. However, no one would suggest recommending the bacteria causing botulism for self-medication. And several drugs have been developed from snake venom but that doesn’t mean a bite from the snake is safe. There are myriad examples but the one thing they don’t have in common is the psychoactive and addictive effects of marijuana. And it is marijuana’s psychoactive properties that are its real attraction.
You sir, clearly have never used it for anything BUT it’s psychoactive properties. You are also making a very large assumption, which is very unscientific of you. You are assuming that for most people who pursue marijuana, all they want is the psychoactive component. As a medical marijuana patient, I can tell you sir, YOU ARE WRONG. I have seen parents in tears over how this plant has helped alleviate their child’s suffering, and I’ve seen the children and adults who are so ill that without this plant (in it’s whole efficacy) they would either be dead or in the hospital. You can get “high” off of essential oils, laughter, chocolate, and SEX. Wow, we’d better stop ALL of those right now. To demand that this medicine not have any psychoactive effects is silly. Your coffee sir, affects your brain chemistry, sugar does too, and if we are really going to get started – how about all those drive-thru trips for high fat, high calorie food you occasionally divulge in? There is mounting evidence that those substances which you find on every corner in America (caffeine, sugar, fast-food) are affecting our brain chemistry, and there is compounding evidence that these substances are in fact addictive! Your argument, has serious holes. They sell toxic substances OTC everyday for therapeutic use. Fluoride is a neurotoxin but society STILL thinks ingesting it is a good idea (we swallow on average 30% of the toothpaste we use). You are making assumptions…and they are leading you towards a false positive. Rethink your argument. The therapeutic qualities of marijuana outweigh the negatives by a long shot compared to the toxic and therapeutic qualities of fluoride.
Marijuana is the LEAST addictive “recreational” substance out there, and used medically under a health care provider’s supervision, “marijuana is the SAFEST therapeutically active substance known to Man!” (emphasis added!)http://www.ccguide.org/young88.php
In your research for this article, did you hear of anyone extracting terpenes to infuse into concentrated forms of marijuana. For instance the terpene limolene, one of the more prevalent terpenes in marijuana, is also present in many citrus fruits. I was just curious of the efficacy of say extracting limolene from a cheaper and more readily available source such as fruit and infusing it. Also there is much research done by the perfume industry into terpenes, though not in their medicinal value.
Hmmm, I didn’t see much about extracting from other fruits, but that’s an incredibly interesting notion. The medicinal value has been long overlooked, but I’m totally stoked about the possibilities. I’m going to look more into your questions and see what I can dig up. Thank you for sharing!
I’m a Chemist, actually involved in extracting cannabinoid concentrates in the lab, and the problem with infusing terepenes into it is that you lose concentration of the cannabinoids, be it, THC or CBD, or others. I can’t get into what we are doing in the lab, but I feel that the there are certain cannabinoids that aren’t getting the same attention as THC. It has already been found that CBD has far reaching medicinal value than THC. Well, I am also more interested in the other cannabinoids which so far, are normally only in small percentages in the plant such as CBG, CBN, CBDV, CBD and others. There are many other cannabinoids as well, and in my humble opinion, this plant deserves more attention in research into its medicinal properties. I just don’t understand why modern society embraces alcohol and “cancer sticks” (IE tobacco cigarettes) and seems afraid of marijuana, especially with all the talk about its medicinal effects such as cancer treatment and cures, epilepsy, and many others.
Hi Mary Jane,
Thank you so much for publishing your insightful informative article on Terpines and Cannabis. I live in Virginia and therefore can not legally grow marijuana. That being said I do occasionally get my hands on small amounts. Some of it tastes great but the big buds are so light and fluffy that if powdered down there isn’t much there at all. Other times buds acquired are tight and full throughout and so there actually is a fair amount of plant material but the the taste is sour, almost bitter, and I don’t find the fragrance very appealing. What I want to know is if I can improve the fragrance and flavor of that denser type with terpeniol, and if so how I would acquire that and apply it if that is a feasible solution.
I haven’t ever tried this. As far as I know, terpenes aren’t really available to the public right now. However, this should change shortly.
The fluffy buds were grown without enough light and/or with too much nitrogen. The compact buds sound like they were grown poorly in hydro.
You really just need better quality cannabis because cannabis itself is delicious and generally needs nothing added to it. The poor growing information being used to grow the cannabis you’re playing with is covering up and destroying (or not allowing to be created in the first place) the very terpenes that make up the delicious fragrances and tastes of cannabis.
Clean hydroponic cannabis is truly delicious, it’s just extremely difficult to find, or find the info on how to do it yourself. I have a website at TheCleanGame.Net where I publish information on growing clean cannabis.
The quality of cannabis in the united states is generally poor. I’m working on changing that. 😀
Keep it Clean!
Sure you can. I also live in an illegal state. We get a lot of brick weed here. Its cheap and it will get you high but it tastes either old or green. I take a mason jar, skin any fruit. Make sure it isn’t wet or damp, drop a few peels in with lose vegetation and air it once or twice a day. In 2 days it will smell and taste a bit like oranges or whatever your desired taste and flavors might be.
If you want to breed for high terpenes, you should have an analysis kit for the flowers you’ll be raising. It will have to be a large scale grow, but basically you’re choosing which phenotypes will survive and breeding survivors. Thus, within a couple generations characterized by frequent analysis for desired terpenes, you’ll get some of that good good.
Nice, thanks for sharing. I’m definitely hearing more and more breeders/growers talking about terpenes. Oddly, it seems as though the concentrates market has fueled a lot of the excitement.
I have found that the delivery system I was using was a real barrier to getting the full benefits of these terpenes/thc/cbn/cbd … et al. I am chronic severe anxiety disorder from military service. Some thc/cbd combinations are contraindicated in my case through personal experience. Other combinations have allowed me to eliminate, with doctor approval 6 drugs from the list including all opiates/opiods, benzodiazapines, and one Seratonin reuptake inhibitor.
These other combinations that work for me work in synergy to the pharmecuticals that I am still prescribed on a long term basis, and clinical evidence shows that my condition has improved far beyond what was possible without this new medication strategy.
What I meant by deliver was this; It is nearly impossible to get the correct dose for myself with even high quality extracts available from legal dispensaries. Typically it tests at 65%-85%. I have severe bronchial irritation when I attempt a whole sample vaporization (which I inhale) at those concentrations. I have also learned from the taste experience (thanks for the taste info above!) that the vast majority of the “impurities” in the extracts are waxes. My observations show that when I remove the waxes from the extracts, that the resulting extract is liquid and VERY sticky at room temperature, but hard like a rock in the refigerator.
With the waxes removed, I can vape the resulting extract and clearly identify each of the terpenes by taste. It is very obvious when the taste of the wax is gone completely. Plus, I can vape the entire sample with nearly zero residue to clean up on the equipment I use. The residue is a limitation of the vaporizor, rather than an inability of the liquid to evaporate and form an aerosol prior to inhaling.
The waxes are very easy to remove. I use rubbing alcohol. I disolve the extract completely in a one ounce jar. I pass that through a tea bag filter (twice). I wring out the filters, and the first one has white waxy stuff left in it. The second one not so much.
I then take regular (not iodized) table salt and add a tablespoon or so to the mixture. This seperates the alcohol from the water almost immediately. The terpenes are not soluable in water from what I can see. I siphon off the small quantity of colored alcohol/extract solution and put it in a small, oven safe dish. I put this dish in front of a fan so the fan ripples the surface. In an hour or so the alcohol has mostly evaporated.
I put this into an oven preheated to 250 degrees. After about ten minutes the bubble of the mixture begins to taper off, looking almost like a fizzy Cola that has settled down.
Odor, taste, vaporization/inhalation tests show that what is taken out of the oven is safe for me to use. I can detect no odor of alcohol or really anything but the well defined terpene profile. My symptoms begin to relieve within moments however a most profound relief is felts several minutes after dosing. There is slight bronchial irritation for several moments when dosing too much in one breath, however it took little time to determine the right vaporizer technique to reduce this hazard.
You have done a great job with your article, and my hat is off to you.
Now, we just need another soul to tell us all how to use a chromatography column to document the terpene profiles/purify our own samples at home. It has become my belief that the relative simplicity of using a Column Chromatography technique at home will allow us patients to fine tune the extracts for our individual therapy. This would put the real power of medicine where it truly belongs – in the hands of the patient so being treated with it.
May life not Life on you too hard.
At home terpene testing would be awesome. In fact, I home cannabinoid testing would be awesome too. Thanks for this well thought out comment. Great stuff!
If you smell the waxes removed they have terpenes with them. If you think terpenes are not soluble in water think again some are for sure, smell the water used to make water sifted hash, why do you think it smells so much like terpenes?
Good luck at isolating single terpenes from a Cannabis mixture, not at home work. A GC can be used at home for analysis if you are willing to take the time to understand the variables involved in analytical testing, and you have access to the Cannabinoid and terpene standards used to calibrate the GC.
Your process is very good. I would switch to ethanol (Everclear or a high proof vodka works well) and use a bit more salt.
Though you’re unable to detect it, the rubbing alcohol is slowly eating at your throat and lungs. Even with a vacuum oven and repeated washing with ethanol, you’ll still test positive for rubbing alcohol in a lab.
Keep it Clean! 😀
I realize I left out a part: After the fan evaporates most of the alcohol from the dish, but before the oven, there is a clear separation of white runny wax, and clear honey/amber colored liquid. The wax is easily pulled off with a medicine dropper.
I use terpene blend solutions to dissolve extracts 😉
They are wonderful work grate .. just extremely overpriced atm 🙁
But in my research I have found alot of these terps are also in flavoring I use in tha ecig industry 🙂
Very cool! Thanks for sharing. I’m hoping new technology will bring the prices down over the next few years. Cheers!
Why don’t you list how the terpenes modify THC for example?
Myrcene/THC makes the THC stronger, makes it more Narcotic, Physical, Couchlock.
While Limonene makes THC stronger, but is Cerebral, Clear, Up, energetic.
Good information. I’m going to do some more research and update the article. Thanks! 🙂
Great article! There seems to be so much about this plant that still needs to be studied, and it could have a lot of therapeutic potential. I’m a chemist working on cannabis research, and terpenes are proving very interesting to study because there’s so much variation between strains.
One comment: I think cineole and eucalyptol are in fact the same compound, just two different names for it.
Very interesting. I would love to hear more about your research. Thanks for sharing!
Well linalool, nerolidol and ocimene also contribute the the sedative effects as does beta-caryophylene.
I could go on about the sleepier ones but it’s the combination with terpenes you would never imagine that you get the most “couch-lock”
Wow, such versatility…definitely adds weight to the argument that cannabis has such a wide array of far-reaching, legitimate benefits and uses that go far beyond getting blazed on a lazy Sunday afternoon, which may also be one of the main reasons why it’s been kept illegal for so long….Big Pharma probably can’t stomach the thought of losing so much of their business and gargantuan profits to easily accessible and affordable cannabis-inspired alternatives…seems that capitalism that works for everyone isn’t the kind of capitalism that works for them…the pricks. Here’s to keeping up the good fight! =)
Interesting comments about Terpenes. Where I am Terpenes are hard to get so most people use Vegetable glycerol? This is very sweet and sticky and the viscosity is to thick for a 0.5 hole in a dispensing pen. What is the ratio per Veg Glycerol and water without getting to much water in your system through vaping?
Terpenes and vegetable glycerol are not even remotely the same thing.
Most terps are soluble in vegetable glycerin. look into it
Hi, thanks for the great article. The terpenes play such a big role it is amazing that it took us so long to get all the information. Bookmarked the page for later reference.
Any perfumes made from terpenes yet?
Excellent question and the answer is yes. Perfume and cologne manufacturers have been using terpenes for a while. I couldn’t find an instance where they have extracted the terpenes directly from cannabis, but I have found that many use terpenes that are found in cannabis and other plants. For example, pinene is a commonly used terpene in men’s cologne. I think if someone made perfumes directly from cannabis it could be a hit! Thanks for checking out the blog and joining the discussion. This was a really interesting question and one that I hadn’t thought of before.
Already have, try vanilla extract and NL5xHaze. Amazing the ladies love it.
I’ve read in a cannabis growing guide that harvesting just before sunrise keeps most of the terpenes intact on the plant. Terpenes can evaporate easily when put under the sun’s heat. That’s for outdoor, I guess the same logic applies to indoor growing.
In my part of the country, the legal mmj has no terpenes. Its beyond a drag, because its illegal to grow. You can only purchase, and the dispensaries grow it themselves. The bud is full of chemicals, thats the only thing your smell or taste.
People with money don’t know anything about weed here so they pass scented sweeteners off as terpenes. All the dispensaries do it. Full of scented fertilizers. And lawn clippings are called dank too. Fake scented weed and chlorophyll bud. It makes me sick. Headaches, burnt sugar in my lungs, sore throat, restricted breathing,bad buzz, the works.
Just because the growers don’t realize the hydroponic chemical industry is a scam, its counter productive to use all that garbage. Most of it is absolute contamination of the buds. Yet people smoke it…
I live in Arizona, and the Cannabis here does not resemble the Cannabis I’ve had everywhere else. Maybe in looks but thats where the similarities stop, when we’re comparing loud smelling dank that taste like desserts from space, to something that cost twice as much, smells like haybails, and taste like botanicare and general hydroponics snake weight adding products.
Legal weed is a joke! I MISS TERPS, and more importantly FLAVOR. So far the soothing flavor of properly dried, properly soil grown Cannabis is the absolute most therapeutic part of the plant. That deep flavor that activates a hidden set of taste buds down your throat and in your stomach,and expands your lungs like crazy.. Nothing like that in any dispensary, not even close. Not even 1/4 of the way their.
I guess voters got what they asked for. Cannabis is now a corporate playground for companies like Monsanto and Marlborough. . *Terps Sold Separately *
I am thinking about becoming a budtender. On your feet, checking med. cards, checking patients condition, matching there prescription by the caretaker so they get the proper strain for there medical condition. Be it herb, extracts, concentrates and edibles. It sounds very rewarding, am I leaving anything out? When vaporizing herb, etc…start at 311*f and work up to 315*f BP for delta-9-THC only. Never exceed 383*f max. med. temp. for other terpenes. Benzene staring at 392*f, avoid the toxins. Did you know cannabinoids are terpenes?
I just got a quick question in regards to using cannabis terpenes, coming from a marijuana plant containg thc does the terpenes contain any level of thc? Would you be able to pass a drug test?
If your purchasing pure terpenes then thats all that should be present, just terpene and nothing else. Typically the manufacturer will have something somewhere that says its THC free. Im sure there are full spectrum blends that do contain it but wouldnt be legal to sell everywhere, especially on the internet.
When cannabis is legalized all over the world?! Wheeeeeen?
I stumbled across your website today and it looks awesome. Keep the good work
Do terpenes make you high?
Appreciate you for sharing.