What’s the deal with terpenes and trichomes?

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The quality, taste, aroma and effect of cannabis varies greatly from strain to strain – and terpenes and trichomes have a lot to do with it. In fact, terpenes are just as important as cannabinoids like THC and CBD in determining the potential medicinal effects of a strain.

When you consume THC or CBD concentrates made from whole plant extractions, you often see hundreds of additional trace compounds in the final product, which is where terpenes come into play. When you create a synthetic CBD product, these compounds are not present.

The brilliance of whole plant extraction is that these extra terpenes are there to exponentially increase the effectiveness of the CBD molecules – these are known as “full spectrum” extracts.

The therapeutic effect of all these extra terpenes and trace cannabinoids (often called the “envelope effect”) provides a product that delivers results. Understanding terpenes and how they work is the first step to choosing a cannabis strain that offers the benefits you need, whether it’s anxiety relief, pain reduction or something more specific.

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry! We will cover the basics and then break it down into a headline comparing it to a fine wine to help you understand. Additionally, we have covered the most common terpenes found in cannabis below.

Contents
  1. Key takeaways
  2. What are terpenes?
  3. What is Trichome?”
  4. Why Trichomes are Important for Cannabis
  5. Comparing Cannabis to Wine: To help put cannabis in a closer context, we will use an analogy to wine production, a process that is more familiar to many people. Cannabis is very similar to wine – each variety has its own unique name and accompanying history. When you choose a bottle of wine, the label will indicate which vineyard it is produced from, the type of grape, the year of production, the alcohol content and of course the price. With the modernization of cannabis, labels now also list the producer, strain, harvest date, THC percentage, CBD content and price. All these are characteristics that the consumer takes into account when deciding which bottle of wine or strain of cannabis to buy. Let’s go through the process from start to finish. Vineyard = Garden There are thousands of vineyards in different climates around the world – each with its own unique (sometimes secret) cultivation and fermentation practices. In the cannabis world, gardens can be indoor or outdoor, in-ground or hydroponic, and are often referred to simply as “cultivation”. Each master grower works just like a vineyard, each using a different method of cultivation, curing, pruning and drying based on all the dynamic factors that play a role in growing a living thing. The environment also plays a very important role: temperature, light, nutrients, growing medium, water, etc. Next time you buy cannabis, take the time to ask the cannabis caregiver or budtender if they know anything about the garden where it was grown, like you would ask a sommelier for details. Some gardens are organic, while others may use harmful pesticides. This is an important distinction when choosing cannabis. Grape variety = cannabis variety There are at least 6,000 cultivated grape varieties – some are native to certain regions and others are hybrid varieties. As the name suggests, native grapes only thrive in certain climates and soils; thus begins the process of creating hybrid grapes. Hybrids were created to increase wine production in regions with poor climate or soil, as well as to combat disease, increase the volume of commercial production and change flavor profiles. Each grape variety has a distinctive taste, aroma and appearance. Cannabis, like grapes, grows naturally on many different continents and countries – these local varieties are called landraces. Like local wine varieties, these varieties only grow in certain climates. Breeders started hybridizing cannabis for the same reasons as winemakers; climate tolerance, disease resistance, yield, potency, aroma, appearance, growth structure and impact. Some dispensaries have desirable home-grown varieties; just as winemakers blend grapes to achieve more unique flavor profiles. Year of production = vintage date Year of production is important as it indicates how fresh or aged a bottle of wine is. Some bottles are designed to be consumed in the year of release, while others need to be aged or stored for years to achieve the flavor the winemaker wants. Wines that will not be consumed immediately should be stored in a mini fridge, cellar or environmentally controlled cellar to prevent spoilage. The harvest date of cannabis is important for the same reason; it indicates when the plant was cut. After harvesting, the plant is prepared for consumption. This will involve drying, trimming and curing the flowers produced by the cannabis plant. Curing cannabis is similar to aging wine; over time the molecular structure (cannabinoid profile) changes, creating differences in appearance, potency, smell and taste. Just as the red California wines of 2001 pale in comparison to the wines of 2005, cannabis gardens will have better and worse anniversaries. Growing grapes or cannabis of the highest quality requires excellent caretakers and an optimal climate. Cannabis should also be stored properly for maximum preservation; preferably in a closed jar or similar airtight container, away from direct sunlight. ABV% = THC% Alcohol is the component that creates the intoxicating effect of wine. When choosing a bottle of wine, the label will indicate the Alcohol by Volume or ABV (usually expressed as a percentage). This helps consumers to make a choice based on the strength of the wine. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main chemical responsible for most of the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. Legally purchased cannabis will contain a label with the THC content by weight, also expressed as a percentage. This helps cannabis users determine how strong a particular strain is. The percentage of THC in dried cannabis buds can range from >1-25+ percent. Liquor store = dispensary The same factors that affect wine pricing also affect cannabis pricing (except legal status); supply, demand, brand, reputation, rarity, production volume, quality, etc. This factor depends largely on preference, but as a general rule, you get what you pay for – think “Two Buck Chuck”. Many of us have a friend with great connections, you know, the person who is on the mailing list for wine sales and always wants to be on the next big order? He researches the winemaker and the year. If you really want to know how to buy the right cannabis, look beyond the dispensary (not the name of the liquor dealer, but what they have in stock). No doubt a skilled taster will know if they wholesale the strain from another grower or if they grow it in their own garden. When trying different strains from different dispensaries, keep track of what you are drinking and who is growing it to find the strains that will work for you (similar to buying different wines from different liquor stores). Just like there are dozens of California Cabernets from different vineyards, a Sour Diesel grown in one garden will be slightly different from another. Using Terpenes to Choose a Strain It takes time to identify your favorite wines, and cannabis is no exception. Don’t expect your cannabis preference to appear overnight. You will probably have to try several strains and dispensaries before you find your favorite – that’s part of the fun! While strain names are often a bit fancy (Super Silver Haze, Master Kush, etc.), they serve the same purpose as determining the type of wine (Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.). There are a number of online resources to learn more about the origins, influences and flavors of specific types, but a broader way to approach the question is to understand terpenes. While sensory qualities are the main attraction for many people when it comes to terpenes, it is important to realize that terpenes also play an important role in modulating the medicinal properties of cannabis. Terpenes are important because when inhaled or ingested along with cannabinoids, they interact with the endocannabinoid system to facilitate the onset of your high. A terpene called myrcene is produced in high concentrations in mangoes, so some people may tell you that eating it will increase your intoxication. The science behind this very real advice is that myrcene increases cell permeability, which contributes to faster absorption of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. Another example of this phenomenon is limonene. Limonene, also commonly found in lemons, increases the production of serotonin in the body, which is why these types of fruit often boost your mood like a fresh glass of lemonade. By learning about the terpenes found in cannabis and how they work, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices to find the perfect strain. Here are 11 of the most common terpenes found in cannabis: YouTube video: What’s the deal with terpenes and trichomes? 1. Limonene Taste/aroma: citrus Occurrences: lemon, orange, mint Medicinal uses: mood regulation, cancer, bronchitis 2. Myrcene Taste/aroma: earthy, musky, fruity Occurrences: lemon, orange, mint: Mango, lemongrass, thyme, eucalyptus Medicinal uses: insomnia, inflammation 3. Linalool Taste/aroma: floral, spicy Ingredients: Lavender, peppermint, cinnamon Medicinal uses: Insomnia, inflammation, cancer 4. Alpha-bisabolol Taste/aroma: floral Contains: Chamomile Medicinal uses: Inflammation, antibacterial 5. Delta 3 Carene Taste/aroma: pine, earthy Occurrences: juniper Medicinal uses: borneol Taste/aroma: earthy Occurrences: peppermint, cinnamon, wormwood Medicinal uses: alpha-pinene/beta-pinene Taste/aroma: Pine Occurrences: Fennel, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary Medicinal Uses: Eucalyptol Taste/Aroma: Spicy Occurrences: Bay Leaves, Tea Tree, Sage Medicinal Uses: Overload 9. Terpineol Taste/aroma: pine Occurrences: Clove, lilac, cumin, ginger herb Medicinal uses: Antioxidants 10. Caryophyllene Taste/aroma: hops Contains. Nerolidol Taste/flavor: contained in woody . It is important to note that terpenes are important for both high THC and high CBD products and can be a decisive factor in personalized cannabis selections and wellness treatments.
  6. Vineyard = Garden
  7. Grape variety = cannabis variety
  8. Year of production = vintage date
  9. ABV% = THC%
  10. Liquor store = dispensary
  11. Using Terpenes to Choose a Strain
  12. YouTube video: What’s the deal with terpenes and trichomes?
  13. 1. Limonene
  14. 2. Myrcene
  15. 3. Linalool
  16. 4. Alpha-bisabolol
  17. 5. Delta 3 Carene
  18. 9. Terpineol
  19. 10. Caryophyllene

Key takeaways

  • Cannabis is covered in trichomes (small appendages) that form terpenes (aromatic plant compounds) that vary in availability and concentration from species to species
  • There are many different terpenes and hundreds more that occur naturally in different plant species,
  • Knowing the terpenes and their effects found in cannabis can help you determine which strains will provide the benefits you seek and help you choose strains that meet your preferences for taste, aroma and potency
  • What are terpenes?

    Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in plant resins, including those derived from hemp and organic cannabis flower. There are thousands of terpenes found in the plant kingdom. That’s right, they are not unique to hemp. All plants, herbs and fruits have unique terpene profiles that create differences in taste and smell.

    Over 200 different terpenes have been found that the FDA considers safe for consumption. More than 100 different terpenes have been found in cannabis alone. Terpenes provide the aroma and flavor of cannabis strains and can support the action of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids in the body. In fact, they are produced in the same glands (called trichomes) as these other parent compounds.

    Terpene (name):

    1. Of course:
    2. Flavor compound found in cannabis that enhances the effects of THC and CBD.
    3. Any of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants.

    Examples of use

    “You can really smell the lemony terpene in this strain.”

    “I just smell the bud and let the terpenes influence what I choose.”

    What is Trichome?”

    The definition of trichomes, which comes from the Greek word “Tríchōma” meaning “hair growth”, is “thin growths or appendages of plants, algae, lichens and some protists.”

    These trichomes resemble tiny translucent fungi and are found on a variety of plants for various reasons in the botanical world. For example, they are often used as traps to catch prey because of their stickiness.

    The cannabis plant actually uses them as a defense mechanism in nature. To deter insects and animals from eating the buds, the trichomes of female cannabis plants produce terpenes, which often have a bitter taste or strong aroma, making them unpleasant for pests. They also act as a shield against dust and dirt in high winds and act as antifungals to prevent disease.

    Why Trichomes are Important for Cannabis

    The leaves and buds usually get all the attention when it comes to cannabis, but in reality the trichomes are the star of the show. The tiny crystal-like stalks that coat the buds and make them sticky have the power to produce terpenes.

    This means that all the recreational and medicinal value derived from the cannabis plant is entirely dependent on the production and maintenance of high-quality trichomes.

    These resinous glands contain the compounds THC and CBD, all the delicious terpenes and all the trace cannabinoids that make up a potent strain. This does not mean that this is the only place where THC is found. Every part of the plant contains some THC. It’s found in the leaves at around four percent, and you’ll see trichomes growing not only in the buds, but also in the leaves around the periphery of some strains.

    Because trichomes are home to all these compounds, it’s important to understand that they’re exactly what’s needed to create high-quality, high-impact extracts and concentrates. To put it into perspective, the gold dust collected when you open the bottom of your mill is called kief. Also known as a “dry sieve”, this sieve is a collection of all the trichomes that your grinder sifts through when preparing the hash. Isolate is a process in which the extractor tries to capture a compound like CBD in its purest form. Products like CBD isolate are very important because they provide the most potent dose of medicinal value available.

    One of the reasons why people are starting to use more concentrates is because it is a much more effective way to preserve trichomes. With dried cannabis flowers, there will inevitably be some degradation of the trichomes over time, while high quality extracts will preserve all the waxes and lipids surrounding the cannabinoid and terpene molecules.

    Comparing Cannabis to Wine: To help put cannabis in a closer context, we will use an analogy to wine production, a process that is more familiar to many people. Cannabis is very similar to wine – each variety has its own unique name and accompanying history.

    When you choose a bottle of wine, the label will indicate which vineyard it is produced from, the type of grape, the year of production, the alcohol content and of course the price.

    With the modernization of cannabis, labels now also list the producer, strain, harvest date, THC percentage, CBD content and price. All these are characteristics that the consumer takes into account when deciding which bottle of wine or strain of cannabis to buy. Let’s go through the process from start to finish.

    Vineyard = Garden

    There are thousands of vineyards in different climates around the world – each with its own unique (sometimes secret) cultivation and fermentation practices. In the cannabis world, gardens can be indoor or outdoor, in-ground or hydroponic, and are often referred to simply as “cultivation”.

    Each master grower works just like a vineyard, each using a different method of cultivation, curing, pruning and drying based on all the dynamic factors that play a role in growing a living thing. The environment also plays a very important role: temperature, light, nutrients, growing medium, water, etc.

    Next time you buy cannabis, take the time to ask the cannabis caregiver or budtender if they know anything about the garden where it was grown, like you would ask a sommelier for details. Some gardens are organic, while others may use harmful pesticides. This is an important distinction when choosing cannabis.

    Grape variety = cannabis variety

    There are at least 6,000 cultivated grape varieties – some are native to certain regions and others are hybrid varieties. As the name suggests, native grapes only thrive in certain climates and soils; thus begins the process of creating hybrid grapes.

    Hybrids were created to increase wine production in regions with poor climate or soil, as well as to combat disease, increase the volume of commercial production and change flavor profiles. Each grape variety has a distinctive taste, aroma and appearance.

    Cannabis, like grapes, grows naturally on many different continents and countries – these local varieties are called landraces. Like local wine varieties, these varieties only grow in certain climates.

    Breeders started hybridizing cannabis for the same reasons as winemakers; climate tolerance, disease resistance, yield, potency, aroma, appearance, growth structure and impact. Some dispensaries have desirable home-grown varieties; just as winemakers blend grapes to achieve more unique flavor profiles.

    Year of production = vintage date

    Year of production is important as it indicates how fresh or aged a bottle of wine is. Some bottles are designed to be consumed in the year of release, while others need to be aged or stored for years to achieve the flavor the winemaker wants. Wines that will not be consumed immediately should be stored in a mini fridge, cellar or environmentally controlled cellar to prevent spoilage.

    The harvest date of cannabis is important for the same reason; it indicates when the plant was cut. After harvesting, the plant is prepared for consumption. This will involve drying, trimming and curing the flowers produced by the cannabis plant. Curing cannabis is similar to aging wine; over time the molecular structure (cannabinoid profile) changes, creating differences in appearance, potency, smell and taste.

    Just as the red California wines of 2001 pale in comparison to the wines of 2005, cannabis gardens will have better and worse anniversaries. Growing grapes or cannabis of the highest quality requires excellent caretakers and an optimal climate. Cannabis should also be stored properly for maximum preservation; preferably in a closed jar or similar airtight container, away from direct sunlight.

    ABV% = THC%

    Alcohol is the component that creates the intoxicating effect of wine. When choosing a bottle of wine, the label will indicate the Alcohol by Volume or ABV (usually expressed as a percentage). This helps consumers to make a choice based on the strength of the wine.

    Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main chemical responsible for most of the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. Legally purchased cannabis will contain a label with the THC content by weight, also expressed as a percentage. This helps cannabis users determine how strong a particular strain is. The percentage of THC in dried cannabis buds can range from >1-25+ percent.

    Liquor store = dispensary

    The same factors that affect wine pricing also affect cannabis pricing (except legal status); supply, demand, brand, reputation, rarity, production volume, quality, etc. This factor depends largely on preference, but as a general rule, you get what you pay for – think “Two Buck Chuck”.

    Many of us have a friend with great connections, you know, the person who is on the mailing list for wine sales and always wants to be on the next big order? He researches the winemaker and the year. If you really want to know how to buy the right cannabis, look beyond the dispensary (not the name of the liquor dealer, but what they have in stock).

    No doubt a skilled taster will know if they wholesale the strain from another grower or if they grow it in their own garden. When trying different strains from different dispensaries, keep track of what you are drinking and who is growing it to find the strains that will work for you (similar to buying different wines from different liquor stores). Just like there are dozens of California Cabernets from different vineyards, a Sour Diesel grown in one garden will be slightly different from another.

    Using Terpenes to Choose a Strain

    It takes time to identify your favorite wines, and cannabis is no exception. Don’t expect your cannabis preference to appear overnight. You will probably have to try several strains and dispensaries before you find your favorite – that’s part of the fun!

    While strain names are often a bit fancy (Super Silver Haze, Master Kush, etc.), they serve the same purpose as determining the type of wine (Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.). There are a number of online resources to learn more about the origins, influences and flavors of specific types, but a broader way to approach the question is to understand terpenes.

    While sensory qualities are the main attraction for many people when it comes to terpenes, it is important to realize that terpenes also play an important role in modulating the medicinal properties of cannabis. Terpenes are important because when inhaled or ingested along with cannabinoids, they interact with the endocannabinoid system to facilitate the onset of your high.

    A terpene called myrcene is produced in high concentrations in mangoes, so some people may tell you that eating it will increase your intoxication. The science behind this very real advice is that myrcene increases cell permeability, which contributes to faster absorption of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids.

    Another example of this phenomenon is limonene. Limonene, also commonly found in lemons, increases the production of serotonin in the body, which is why these types of fruit often boost your mood like a fresh glass of lemonade. By learning about the terpenes found in cannabis and how they work, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices to find the perfect strain. Here are 11 of the most common terpenes found in cannabis:

    YouTube video: What’s the deal with terpenes and trichomes?


    1. Limonene

    • Taste/aroma: citrus
    • Occurrences: lemon, orange, mint
    • Medicinal uses: mood regulation, cancer, bronchitis

    2. Myrcene

    • Taste/aroma: earthy, musky, fruity
    • Occurrences: lemon, orange, mint: Mango, lemongrass, thyme, eucalyptus
    • Medicinal uses: insomnia, inflammation

    3. Linalool

    • Taste/aroma: floral, spicy
    • Ingredients: Lavender, peppermint, cinnamon
    • Medicinal uses: Insomnia, inflammation, cancer

    4. Alpha-bisabolol

    • Taste/aroma: floral
    • Contains: Chamomile
    • Medicinal uses: Inflammation, antibacterial

    5. Delta 3 Carene

    • Taste/aroma: pine, earthy
    • Occurrences: juniper
    • Medicinal uses: borneol
      • Taste/aroma: earthy
      • Occurrences: peppermint, cinnamon, wormwood
      • Medicinal uses: alpha-pinene/beta-pinene
        • Taste/aroma: Pine
        • Occurrences: Fennel, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary
        • Medicinal Uses: Eucalyptol
          • Taste/Aroma: Spicy
          • Occurrences: Bay Leaves, Tea Tree, Sage
          • Medicinal Uses: Overload

          9. Terpineol

          • Taste/aroma: pine
          • Occurrences: Clove, lilac, cumin, ginger herb
          • Medicinal uses: Antioxidants

          10. Caryophyllene

          • Taste/aroma: hops
          • Contains. Nerolidol
            • Taste/flavor: contained in woody
            • . It is important to note that terpenes are important for both high THC and high CBD products and can be a decisive factor in personalized cannabis selections and wellness treatments.
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