Terps: It's What You Taste
Terps: It’s what you taste
The taste and smell of cannabis is part of what we all love about it, but did you know that the taste and smell are a major driving force of the effects of cannabis? (both medicinal and recreational)
The smell and taste are created by terpenoids, or terpenes, which are volatile aromatic compounds (chemicals) which each have an individual scent (or taste). Many of them you would recognize them in their fruit, herbal, or floral forms—such as Limonene found in lemons, Pinene in pine needles, or Beta Caryophyllene in black pepper. A large variety of terpenes can be found in cannabis, with different strains containing different terpenes and different concentrations and ratios.
This is why you sometimes cough when just smelling a potent strain of cannabis—bronchodilator and anti-mucosal terpenes are doing their job before you even consume it. Low temperature dabbing means you’ll get as much of these beneficial and synergistic terpenes as possible. These are very delicate compounds so they are the first degrade when oil sugars or is left sitting out of refrigeration or in a hot car.
Figuring out which terpenes work best for your body chemistry and your conditions will take some trial and error—but it’s not difficult, just listen to your body. If something smells good to you, that’s a good sign (if it smells bad, steer clear). It might smell more or less pleasant to someone else, your preferences are unique to you.
There are resources available you can use to help you understand the effects of different terpenes—it’s just about finding the cannabis strains that have the right blends for you. Companies like DoTerra who produce botanical extracts have wonderful guides for what each oil contains (terpenes) and what that oil does (effects). For example, DoTerra lists their “Black Pepper” oil as primarily containing Caryophyllene (it does), and they list effects including, “soothe anxious feelings” and “aid digestion,” benefits many patients find from Caryophyllene-containing cannabis strains like Bubba Kush or ACDC.
To get good terpene content, you will be looking at more high-end products, but it’s not necessary to solely focus on the newest most exclusive strains. Once you start to become familiar with strain lineages, you’ll start to recognize the potential of certain strains. For instance, OG Kush is so popular because of the presence of Myrcene, Pinene, Linalool, Caryophyllene and Limonene—which give it an anxiety-releasing body-relaxed feeling, but without being overly mentally cloudy. And of course, each phenotype or lineage of OG Kush is unique, so you might find the most benefits from keeping OG Kush, Skywalker OG, and Tahoe OG in your personal stable.
If this seems overly confusing, that’s ok. The differences between individual strains can be very subtle, but something you can work with over time. If you have good access, start with a few popular strains that come from different lineages and keep a journal. Then just note what you like the most and keep exploring strains that are similar (either in terms of lineage—like 1 same parent strain, or in terms of the terpenes present).