Follow Your Nose: The Importance of Terpenes in the Cannabis Experience

Follow Your Nose: The Importance of Terpenes in the Cannabis Experience

One of the significant advantages to Canada’s legalization of cannabis is that consumers now have some of the best and most high-quality cannabis strains available to them when they go to make a legal cannabis purchase at a store like TOKE.

Too Many Options Equals Tough Choices

Terpene profiles, cannabinoid composition, cannabinoid ratios, and indica vs. sativa labeling helps differentiate the available cannabis strains, with Licenced Producers providing the consumer as much information as possible to help them choose their ideal strain.

A lot of Canada’s cannabis consumers are concerned with finding the “perfect high” and will usually choose high-THC strains to achieve that desired end. However, many cannabis consumers in Canada don’t realize that it’s not necessarily about just cannabinoids and THC; it’s also about terpenes, which can highly affect the cannabis experience.

Here we’ll explain a bit more about terpenes: what they are, what some of them are, how to understand them, what their relationship is to cannabinoids, and finally, the incredible and miraculous phenomenon called The Entourage Effect.

The Magic of Terpenes

Terpenes are the metabolites in all plants that create the smell and flavor of the plant. We are surrounded by common terpenes every day in the foods we eat, and some of the products we use that are enhanced by terpenes such as cosmetics and household cleaning products.

When isolated on their own from plants, certain terpenes can produce therapeutic effects. For instance, linalool, which is found in lavender, provides soothing effects, which is why many choose this essential oil for relaxation. On the other hand, pinene, found in pine needles, dill, parsley, and many other things, is believed to give off a scent that is energizing and invigorating.

In cannabis, terpenes are the building blocks of the scent and aroma, and provide the foundation for cannabinoids. Every cannabis plant and strain has unique terpenes that determine the smell and taste of the dried buds when combusted (lit), which is what leads to the diversity in strain choice.

Here are some common terpenes currently being celebrated in cannabis:

Pinene produces a pine aroma and taste. Pinene is a common terpene in “Kush” strains of cannabis and produces its trademark pine taste. Pinene can also be found in orange peels, pine needles, basil and
Limonene gives off a citrusy aroma and taste, and is a common terpene found in most citrus fruits and several cannabis strains. Limonene is most commonly found in sativa strains, but can also be found in indicas and hydrids as well.
Terpinolene is a terpene producing a smoky and woodsy scent and taste. Terpinolene can also be found in sage and rosemary and used in many spice blends. Known as a lesser common terpene in cannabis, terpinolene can be found as a dominant terpene in just a few strains.
Linalool is known for its spicy, floral scent and taste. It can be also found in mint, rosewood, lavender, and cinnamon, and in cannabis strains, it’s often found in strains bred with Grand Daddy Purple.
Humulene produces an earthy, woody and spicy aroma and taste and can also be found in clove, basil, coriander and hops. It can be found in modest quantities in most cannabis strains.
Myrcene is a terpene with a fruity, yet earthy aroma that can be found in mangoes, hops, lemongrass, thyme, and basil. One study suggested that in cannabis that contains myrcene, it can make up to 50% of the plant’s composition.

When choosing a cannabis strain, follow your nose! Use the smell jars available at TOKE to use your nose’s intelligence to help determine how your body will enjoy the cannabis’ terpenes.

Sure, Cannabinoid Content Matters, Too

When understanding terpenes as essential to the cannabis experience, it’s important to go back to cannabinoids, as to put it simply, terpenes need cannabinoids to be most effective, due to a phenomenon called The Entourage Effect. We’ll discuss this a bit later.

Cannabinoids are the naturally-occurring compounds found both within the human body and in the cannabis sativa plant. There are currently 138 known cannabinoids, with this number quickly growing as more research about the composition of cannabis is uncovered.

As we’ve acknowledged, the most commonly known and celebrated of the cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), yet cannabis and the science community are catching on to the value of other cannabinoids including CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol), and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin).

THC is the cannabinoid that is responsible for the psychoactive or intoxicating effects of cannabis, and is presented on labels of cannabis products as a percentage (%) so that the user understands the potency of the strain. THC content in cannabis strains can range from 17% to up to 30%. Naturally, the higher the THC percentage, the higher the potency of the strain.

The Entourage Effect: The Best Marriage of Parts of the Plant

We talk about cannabinoids and terpenes together because they shouldn’t be seen as two mutually exclusive parts of the cannabis experience, rather, as essential parts of each other to enhance cannabis overall. Here’s when we get into something really cool: The Entourage Effect.

The Entourage Effect’s discovery is credited to Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam (the latter known as “The Godfather of Cannabis”). The Entourage Effect proposes that the fatty acids along with the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant enhanced cannabinoid activity in the body.

Mechoulan and Ben-Shabat in their research showed that alone or in isolation, certain cannabinoids would not bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, thus producing little to no effects. However, when cannabinoids were introduced to the body along with fatty acids and terpenes, there was an increase of binding of the cannabinoids to the body’s receptors.

The Entourage Effect, thus, is the synergistic action of different cannabinoids, flavonoids, fatty acids and terpenes when acting on receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

To put it simply, the individual parts of the cannabis plant produce more effects when used in harmony with other parts.

Getting Your Best Cannabis Experience

The best way to determine if you’ll like cannabis is to simply try it. If you’re looking for a strain that you can rely on and go back to for a consistent experience, sample some grams or pre-rolls first. If you like it, we can provide higher quantities of certain products for you at TOKE.

When you receive your package, be sure to take your time in opening your packaging, taking time to smell your cannabis and see how it elevates your nose via its powerful terpenes.

Understand the cannabinoid content of your cannabis products to get a good idea of the potency of your chosen strain.

At TOKE, we can talk terpenes, cannabinoids, and The Entourage Effect all day long – feel free to come in and ask us about certain products you’re wanting to try, and when you’ve tried them, be sure to come back to tell us about your experience. Word of mouth is often the best way to know what you’re going to like. Let’s help you find that perfect product at TOKE.

TOKE is an Ontario Cannabis Retail Store (CRS) licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). We operate in compliance with the regulations of The Cannabis Act and the provincial regulations put forth by the AGCO.