Let me first explain what a terpene is before we dive into the top 5 terps you should know about! Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons (among the hundreds of chemical compounds found in cannabis) that plants (all plants) manufacture, which have 2 functions:
First, the terpenes have a job of acting as a defense mechanism to deter potential predators from eating the plant while it is growing. In the same sense, some terpenes even attract species of predators who naturally feed on the plants!
Second, they also help to protect the plants against high temperatures. Just like cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, terpenes interact with neural and cellular receptors. In particular, they can modulate neurotransmitter levels by binding to receptors in the brain, terpenes can inhibit the breakdown of serotonin (a feel-good neurotransmitter) and boost dopamine activity (the neurotransmitter that regulates pleasure, motivation, and rewards).
Now that you know what terpenes are, let me give you an idea of what the terpenes in your cannabis can do for you and hopefully by the end you know what to look for on your next trip to the dispensary!
Limonene - Mood Elevating
Optimal Vape Temp: 350° F
Limonene is one of my FAVORITE terpenes! Found in lemons and other citrus, limonene is associated with the “euphoric effects” experienced with certain cannabis strains. Limonene helps alleviate anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue, inflammation, asthma, weight management & certain skin conditions. Some studies have even shown this terpene to produce cell death in breast cancer cells! Limonene is an antidepressant, anti-bacterial and an anti-inflammatory – making it an extremely versatile terpene!
Myrcene - Pain Relief & Sedating
Optimal Vape Temp: 332° F
Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene found in cannabis and is responsible for that stereotypical stoner “couch lock” effect. Leaving your body feeling relaxed and heavy – sometimes making it difficult to get yourself off the couch. However, when used in moderation – myrcene also has incredible pain relieving qualities! In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, it is also an antioxidant and a muscle relaxant!
Pinene - Clarity & Alertness
Optimal Vape Temp: 313° F
Have you ever stuck your nose into a fresh cut pine tree? Something about that crisp, piney smell somehow opens your mind and makes you more awake/alert. That’s the PINENE terpene that is also found in certain cannabis strains – in addition to its ability to make you more clear headed and focused, pinene also has antibiotic & anti-inflammatory properties, it also protects the brain from potential short term memory effects of THC. Pinene can enhance your focus and memory, and increase your alertness. If you’re not already convinced pinene is amazing – what if I told you it might even reduce any potential THC anxiety!
Ocimene - Create & Motivate
Optimal Vape Temp: 150° F
The first thing I look for in my daytime strains is ocimene! I am a creative person, but sometimes the brain fog makes it hard to get anything done! ocimene is the terpene that gives certain strains the tropical, sweet, citrus-y aroma and flavors – and for producing the “goldilocks” effect a.k.a. the “just right” balance that makes for a perfect productive daytime medicine! Spanish researchers found ocimene typically presents itself in the more uplifting, sativa-dominant strains. One study found that it can help prevent certain types of seizures. As we head into the cold and flu season, it is also good to know that ocimene is an antiviral, anti-septic and is a decongestant and expectorant – meaning it is super helpful in breaking up that nasty congestion that inevitably comes every winter! Fair warning though – this one will make you cough when inhaled! 😉
Linalool - Calm & Relax
Optimal Vape Temp: 388° F
Some people need a glass of wine at the end of a busy day. Helps them relax … well, I’ve never been a huge wine fan – but give me a solid linalool strain and I am good to go! Linalool is the main terpene found in lavender – bringing the relaxing and mood elevating qualities found in lavender, it is also great for insomnia, anxiety, pain, migraines, epilepsy, stress, depression, inflammation, and social anxiety. Cannabis plants containing both a high THC and linalool will probably produce a significant sedative and pain relieving effect, due to the synergy between the two compounds. Linalool heavy strains with a mid-level THC make for great meditation and yoga strains!