Throughout 2023, the cannabis industry shifted its focus toward studying the aromatic attributes that shape the distinctive scents and flavours of different strains. As scientific research furthers our understanding of the plant's chemical composition, there's a newfound recognition of terpenes' effects beyond their olfactory appeal.
This move away from an emphasis on THC percentages underscores a growing appreciation for the impact scent compounds and flavourants have on shaping the overall consumer experience.
With new flavour profiles shaping the overall landscape in 2024, let's take a moment and refresh our knowledge of this aromatic class of cannabis compounds, terpenes.
Terpenes are organic compounds naturally present in the essential oils of various plants, including cannabis, where they significantly influence the plant's aroma, flavour, and effects. With over 200 terpenes identified in the plant, they represent the highest percentage of aromatic compounds.
Each individual scent molecule has its own distinct aroma. When combined, these molecules form a terpene profile, offering the unique scent associated with different strains or cultivars. Understanding these nuances enhances our appreciation for the intricate world of terpenes and their impact on the consumption experience.
The presence of terpenes in plants stems from millions of years of evolution. Plants have developed these aromatic compounds as a survival strategy or defence mechanism, using them to deter herbivores, attract pollinators, and defend against pathogens.
In the context of flower, terpenes also act as a botanical fingerprint, distinguishing one strain from another. It's worth noting that strain terpene profiles are not solely determined by their genetic makeup. Environmental factors such as climate, soil composition, and cultivation methods also play a role, adding an extra layer of complexity to cultivation and breeding.
In the plant kingdom, terpenes highlight the remarkable diversity and interconnectedness of aromas in nature. For instance, limonene, a common terpene, is also abundant in many other plants, including citrus fruits. Limonene's distinct aroma contributes to a refreshing, lemony scent in products that comes from limes, and lemongrass.
refreshing and piney element, characterizing its aromatic profile in rare exotic cultivars.
The Entourage Effect
Aside from contributing to the delightful aroma, terpenes possess therapeutic properties that can subtly influence the impact of cannabinoids within the body. This synergy, known as the Entourage Effect, suggests that the combined presence of cannabinoids and terpenes can elevate the therapeutic potential, providing a more holistic impact on both the mind and body.
To pave the way for enhanced therapeutic applications, the industry is seeking out a deeper understanding of their interactions. In other words, the influence of terpenes extends beyond the isolated effects of THC or CBD. Developing the science of how terpenes function and interact in both recreational and therapeutic contexts may potentially modulate the overall consumption experience. This partially explains the surge in new studies on aromatics this year, as the industry is keen on unravelling the intricate relationships among the plant's chemical components.
This holistic effect of cannabinoids and terpenes offers a promising avenue for creating remedies beyond symptom management to promote overall health and balance. Their mutual influence holds significant implications for the overall therapeutic potential.
Terpenes are dynamic molecules widely studied in aromatherapy for their physiological and psychological effects on the body and mind. In cannabis, diverse aromatic profiles can be used to create a holistic sensory experience known as Terpene Therapy.
Terpene Therapy only engages the olfactory senses but also offers potential benefits that align with the principles of aromatherapy, bringing a nuanced and multifaceted approach to overall well-being using this unique plant.
Therapeutic Properties of Terpenes
From limonene to pinene to myrcene, each terpene has distinctive characteristics and showcases therapeutic properties, spanning from anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects to potential antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits. Here is a quick rollcall of the most common terpenes found in cannabis:
- Limonene: known for its citrusy and uplifting aroma is a mood enhancer with potential anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties.
- Myrcene: its signature musky, earthy scent is associated with relaxation and may also enhance the permeability of cell membranes, aiding in the faster absorption of cannabinoids.
- Terpinolene: this terpene brings a sweet and floral aroma, adding depth to the tropical strains while offering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Beta-Caryophyllene: the spicy and peppery notes, b-caryophyllene is unique as it also acts as a cannabinoid, significantly contributing to the anti-inflammatory effects.
- Pinene: embodying the scent of pine needles, pinene not only offers a refreshing aroma but may also enhance alertness and memory retention.
- Linalool: adding a touch of lavender sweetness, linalool brings a calming influence, making it a well-known terpene for anxiety and stress relief.
- Humulene: boasting an earthy and woody aroma, humulene's calming energetics also exhibit anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
- Ocimene: with its citrus and herbal notes, ocimene adds a layer of complexity to terpene profiles and offers antimicrobial benefits.
- Terpinene: Adding a citrusy twist, terpinene enhances the overall aroma and may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Terpenes Transcend Aromatics
As we look forward to diverse terpene profiles shaping the industry in 2024, it becomes clear that these compounds transcend deliciousness. They are integral players in the intricate experience of aroma, effects, and wellness. As we venture into the science behind terpenes, these aromatic molecules go beyond personal preference, representing a complex interplay of chemistry, biology, and potential wellness benefits.
In 2024, the spotlight on terpenes invites us to explore the flavours and the scientific marvels that contribute to the ever-expanding knowledge base of the industry. Elevate your consumption experience, uncover the science, and savour the diverse flavours. Immerse yourself in a world of high-quality products designed to enhance your well-being.
For all your premium terpene isolates and terpene-rich therapeutic blends, explore the CannTerp catalogue of flavours. Discover, experience, and elevate at cannterp.ca.
Amanda Breeze is an enthusiastic educator on all things terpenes and aroma. She hosts The Smoking Spot podcast, featuring stories and sensory evaluations of our favourite plant. Follow her on Instagram: @emerald.temple.living