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Learn Why You’re Shopping Wrong For Cannabis When Searching For The Highest THC

By Danyal Swan September 25, 2021

Everyone shops for cannabis in their own way. But what if we told you there might be a better way to do it?

When shopping for cannabis, many people only look at the varying THC contents of the various strains. Because of this, they are actually missing out on a wide variety of different options that could be taken into account when trying to find their new favorite strain. Think of it like searching for a fine wine. While you do keep the alcohol percentage in mind when buying, you also look at the different flavors and notes that are in the wine, too.

Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis that give it its different aromas, and they are a much larger aspect of how your cannabis affects you than people might think. Here’s everything you need to know about terpenes and why you should keep them in mind when shopping for different strains of cannabis.

What Are Terpenes?

What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are present in flower and extraction, including tinctures.

Terpenes are fragrant oils that are found in most common plants across the world, and help to give them their own unique scents, including cannabis. These oils are what create the varying flavors and aromas of different cannabis strains. These terpene oils can be found in the resin glands of the cannabis plant.

Many cannabis users do not realize that terpenes actually play a large role in how your body interacts with the other compounds found in cannabis.

What Do Terpenes Do?

The cannabis plant produces a multitude of different terpenes in unique combinations, giving each strain its specific aroma and flavor. Different terpenes can help produce different results throughout the body. Individual combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids have been shown to create varying effects, resulting in some strains of cannabis with specific terpenes being able to, for example, help chronic pain in patients more than other strains can.

On their own, terpenes do not produce a psychoactive effect that makes users "buzz" as THC does. Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced in trichomes that interact with the cannabinoids and other compounds such as THC to help create different effects and feelings in the user, such as uplifting, happy effects. By themselves, terpenes still have their aroma and flavor and are often even extracted to use those factors in other cannabis products, too.

So, How Do Terpenes Work?

Some studies have shown that terpenes aid in the way that THC interacts with our endocannabinoid system - terpenes have shown to help THC bind more effectively to CB1 receptors. Basically, this means that the terpenes help give the THC and other cannabinoids a little push. Each kind of terpene works slightly differently in combination with the other cannabinoids in the individual strains, resulting in unique outcomes for the cannabis user. Some combinations of terpenes affect a cannabis user more cerebrally, while other mixes have more physiological effects. So, it's important that the cannabis user understands the different kinds of terpenes found in cannabis and their effects, so they shop for a strain that is right for them.

What Kinds Of Terpenes Are There?

What Kinds of Terpenes Are There?
Terpenes are produced in the small mushroom-shaped hairs pictured above.

Terpenes are fragrant oils that create different smells and flavors in cannabis and other plants. There are many different kinds of terpenes created by plants and in cannabis, there are hundreds of combinations of terpenes. Here are some of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis:

1. Myrcene

Myrcene has an herbal, citrusy fragrance with a hint of musk. In combination with THC compounds, Myrcene helps enhance relaxation, your ability to sleep, and the psychoactive parts of THC. Because of this, when a strain is dominant in Myrcene, it may help produce more of the ‘buzzed’ effect that many users want from their high THC strains. It is notoriously known for its power to lock you to your couch. The terpene Myrcene can be found in cannabis strains such as Guava jelly, Northern Lights, Triangle Kush, Black Mamba, Orangeade, and more.

2. Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene has more of a woody, peppery smell to it. The terpene has shown medicinal benefits, including pain relief and relief from muscle spasms. Caryophyllene has also been known to aid with insomnia and inflammation throughout its users. Though it doesn’t seem to have any specific reaction with THC, this terpene can still be found in many strains such as Orangeade, Strawberry Cough, Cherry Punch, Guru, Triangle Kush, and more.

3. Linalool

Linalool has a floral, citrusy scent with small notes of spice. This terpene is known for its enhancement of sleep and relaxation, as well as its ability to help someone calm down overall. Linalool also has a variety of potential medicinal benefits from stress relief to anti-anxiety to pain relief. Found in other plants such as lavender and rosewood, linalool is an amazing-smelling terpene that is a great choice for those looking to relax with cannabis. It can be found in the strains Canna-Tsu, Guru, Banana Hammock, Pineapple Express, and more.

4. Pinene

Pinene is a terpene commonly found in coniferous trees, giving plants that contain it a sharp, yet sweet, piney fragrance. In combination with THC, this terpene may help its user maintain alertness and aid in their memory retention. Its reported medicinal effects also help many people that struggle with inflammation. Pinene can be found in the strains OG Kush, Clementine, East Coast Sour Diesel, Modified Grapes, and more.

5. Humulene

Humulene is a terpene that can be found in herbs such as hops and coriander. It has a very woody, earthy fragrance that is often quite sharp to the smell. Its reported medicinal benefits include being both a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. In combination with THC, this terpene can sometimes suppress your appetite. Humulene can be found in strains such as GG4, OG Kush, East Coast Sour Diesel, Pineapple Express, and more.

6. Limonene

Limonene is a bright, citrus-smelling terpene with hints of lemon and orange. It’s found in common plants such as peppermint, citrus, and juniper too. In combination with THC compounds in cannabis, Limonene has been shown to help elevate moods and relieve stress. This terpene also has a variety of potential medicinal benefits such as being an anti-anxiety and antidepressant compound, as well as helping many who struggle with gastric reflux. This powerful and great-smelling terpene can be found in cannabis strains such as Modified Grapes, Papaya OG, Clementine, Slurricane, Orangeade, and more.

7. Terpinolene

Terpinolene is found in apples, tea tree, nutmeg and lilac and exudes floral scents with hints of lilac and lemon. The terpene has shown to provide anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and sedating effects both on its own and in combination with cannabinoids. Terpinolene can be found in cannabis strains such as Lemon Lights, Tangie, Jack Herer, and more.

The Entourage Effect

The Entourage Effect
The Entourage Effect horizontal business infographic illustration about cannabis as herbal alternative medicine and chemical therapy, healthcare and medical science vector.

There are a multitude of different compounds that your body takes in when you use cannabis. Simply put, the entourage effect is when all of the different compounds of cannabis such as THC, CBD, other minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and more all work together in harmony to create a desired effect for the user. Each individual ingredient found in cannabis also interacts with each other, playing a role in the overall effect that a person gets from the strain they’re using.

So, for example, someone shopping for cannabis to use for pain relief should choose a strain that has terpenes known to help with pain relief such as Terpineol or Linalool, which maybe is also high in CBD and THC to help deal with the harsh aspects of pain. This way, when all the different aspects of cannabis interact with each other, the user gets the ultimate pain relief they need.

How To Use Terpenes When Buying Cannabis

It’s important to understand the different kinds of terpenes found in cannabis, what their medicinal benefits are, and how they interact with THC and other cannabinoids, in order to choose a strain of cannabis that is right for you.

Searching for the highest THC content won’t always provide you with the effect you might be looking for, even if it is just for the strongest buzz. If a strain is dominant in the terpene Myrcene, it might make you more buzzed than a different strain with a higher THC level, just because of how this specific terpene interacts with the cannabinoids in your body.

Are There Terpenes In Concentrates, Vaporizers, And Extracts?

Are There Terpenes In Concentrates, Vaporizers, And Extracts?
Shatter, crumble and other concentrates do contain terpenes. Crumble may appear to have more terpenes based on the fragrance, but this is actually do to its 3D texture compared to shatter.

Because terpenes are found in the flower of the plant, many people are unsure if there are terpenes in other cannabis products such as concentrates and vaporizers. However, the short answer is that terpenes do appear, in different amounts, in all of these products.

Extracts all differ in their terpene amounts. While part of this is due to the varying levels of terpenes in each strain, the volatility of terpenes plays a huge role.

How To Find Terpenes That Are Right For Me

First off, you need to know what you want in order to find what is best for you. Start by identifying what your desired outcomes and goals from cannabis are, whether it's pain relief, help with sleep, or just for relaxation.

From there, research the different kinds of terpenes that may be found in cannabis. Each terpene is different and the combinations of them are specific to each strain of cannabis. Knowing the desired effect you’re after will make it much easier to find a strain of cannabis that is right for you.

Once you have decided the best terpene for your desired outcome — for example, if you decided the terpene Myrcene has the benefits you want — then you can start searching for the strains of cannabis that contain it. Because every strain differs, some strains will contain more of a terpene you may want than others. Learning how to read labels on your cannabis will help you understand when a strain may be dominant in a terpene. Don’t be afraid to ask your MedTender for help either!

Shopping For Cannabis The Right Way

Shopping For Cannabis The Right Way

Shopping for cannabis doesn't have to be hard. Terpenes and MedTenders are excellent guides to choosing your strains.
Terpenes are massive aspects of cannabis, each one affecting the way your body interacts with THC differently. Embracing terpenes and understanding their benefits and effects will change the way you not only shop for, but how you use cannabis overall.

Many cannabis users forget to give terpenes the attention they deserve while looking for their new favorite strains of cannabis. Next time you buy cannabis, don’t forget to take a look into the terpenes of the different strains.

Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

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