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Why Are Terpenes the Next Big Thing in the Cannabis Industry?

Written by Cristine Felt

Yes, all that talk about the CBD and THC seems a bit outdated at times. Terpenes are all the rage right now, and for all the good reasons.

Truth be told, it seems a bit surprising how come this cannabis compound was not recognized earlier and used as the deciding factor in production and consumption. Either way, terpenes are likely to rule the cannabis business for quite some time, so let’s get to know them better and see why they are truly essential.

First of all, a word or two about what terpenes are. They are a type of aromatic oil which is usually produced by plants, though some animals can create them, too. When we say plants, we have in mind some “common” species such as pine woods and citrus fruits. Therefore, they are not strictly found in cannabis, even though their role in cannabis industry is the current burning issue.


Trichomes – or resin – on a cannabis plant

Cannabis terpenes are formed in the plant’s glands – trichomes – which are also responsible for cannabinoid production (THC and CBD in particular). There are between 80 and 200 cannabis terpenes and some of the most well-known are linalool, terpinolene, mycrene and camphene; among plenty of others. Each of them has distinctive features which may make or break the deal, and here is how.

Each terpene oozes a certain aroma, which can make us feel either more relaxed or energetic. They add the smell and flavor to cannabis, so they can be the reason why a customer chooses that particular strain. Terpenes are usually produced while the plant is growing, but they can also be extracted and later added to enhance the final product. Mixing them can boost the flavor and effects.

Terpenes are most renowned for their therapeutic properties, which is where the term “entourage effect” typically comes into the conversation. This refers to the fact that cannabinoids and terpenes have to work together in order to create the coveted effect. However, what was little known until now was the fact that, in a way, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is nothing without terps. According to a cannabis study and contrary to the popular belief, it is the terps that make a difference in whether the high is going to be soothing or vigorous. The difference between calm and energized lies in the type of the terpene.


One of the most well-known plant terpenes is limonene, commonly found in citrus fruits like lemons

What’s more, terpenes help THC reach the brain faster, leading to a more intense experience. The higher the terpene level, the higher the levels of serotonin and dopamine in our bodies.

In addition to this, terpenes do not only have therapeutic effects. They are also said to do wonders in medical use, helping in treatments of cancer, depression, pain, and some infections. Not to mention THC extracts with terpenes are about three times stronger than those without them.

With so many benefits, we can only expect the industry to begin paying greater attention to this compound and think about the best ways of increasing their levels in the plant. There are several strategies for this. First, levels largely depend on the genetics of the plant, so the sales of cannabis species naturally rich in terpenes are bound to skyrocket. However, there is a lot of work involved in the growing process too. The soil has to be rich in nutrients, the UV light is mandatory, and the temperature and humidity are to be monitored closely. Of course, the right harvest time has to be determined. Afterwards, all the effort may go to waste unless you properly dry, cure, and store the final product.

All things considered, terpenes have become a household name of many a cannabis user, whereas the real connoisseurs have already been insisting on their own preferences for years. It may be argued which way of enjoying them is the best, but one thing is for sure: terpenes have finally been recognized, and they are altering the cannabis industry as we speak.

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About the author

Cristine Felt

Cristine Felt is an ex nurse and medical cannabis enthusiast that has a passion for writing. Spent 10 years working as a nurse in Colorado Springs, CO and hoping to become a health journalist in the near future. You can find her online, tweeting about health, or at home preparing healthy meals for her family.