Take the Time to Teach Yourself About Terpenes
August 24th, 2022
Want to be a terp expert? Read on for a quick guide on how terpenes work — plus the Glass House Strains to buy to give them a try.
Do you know what’s in your weed? If that question sounds foreboding, don’t stress! The answer isn’t anything bad, but rather, a way of introducing you to the incredible array of compounds we now know exist in the cannabis plant. For most of human history, our main fascination has been with the plant’s signature active ingredient: THC.
Known officially as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, THC may be the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, but it is far from its only cannabinoid. Joining THC in the “major” cannabinoid category is cannabidiol (CBD), which has become immensely popular thanks to its appeal as a non-psychoactive alternative to THC-rich flower and products. But what would major cannabinoids be without some minor cannabinoids to fill out the roster?
Perhaps “some” is the wrong choice of word, given there are over 150 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. They include other potentially intoxicating compounds like delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC, as well as more recent additions to mainstream markets, like cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV).
It’s a lot, we know, but there’s another vital element to what’s inside your weed that we must discuss as well: terpenes.
In many ways, terpenes are the key ingredient consumers rely on to decide which cannabis strains, flavors, and effects will best suit their needs. Beyond the necessary requisite of only consuming within your potency comfort level, knowing which terpenes tickle your palate and spark your mind will reward you time and time again.
What are terpenes, exactly? As we wrote in an earlier blog focused on this topic, terpenes can be clinically defined as “the aromatic compounds that determine the scent of numerous different flowers and herbs.” That means terpenes can be found in lots of stuff, be it aromatic oils or your favorite glass of wine.
With cannabis, terpenes reside in the resin glands of the trichomes (“tiny microscopic mushroom-looking protuberances”) of female cannabis plants. Here they play a crucial role for the plant by attracting pollinators and repelling predators. They accomplish this feat by means of informing a plant’s color, pigmentation, and flavor. In nature, this allows the plants to thrive. For modern consumers, terpenes have become akin to an ever-evolving Rosetta Stone as we continue to decipher the relationship between these fascinating compounds and our own bodies.
Though there’s still plenty more to uncover, that’s not to suggest we aren’t already lucky to have a quite thorough appreciation for how certain terpenes work when introduced to the human endocannabinoid system. As a means of further exploring just how useful it can be to have a basic understanding of terpenes, let’s look at some examples from the Glass House Farms strain library.
For those who wish to learn more about three of the most prominent terpenes you’ll find, here’s a recap from an earlier blog:
This terpene is also often found in hops and lemongrass, which is why you may have randomly thought of a favorite beer the last time you took a puff of a myrcene-rich strain. Also found in mangoes, myrcene is reputed for its notes of musk and spice. To try a few of Glass House’s favorite myrcene-rich strains, try our Bubba Diagonal or Super Silver Haze.
Known for giving some cannabis strains a bit of peppery bite, caryophyllene can also be found in oregano, rosemary, black pepper, and cloves. In terms of effects, it’s all about relaxation when it comes to strains high in caryophyllene. From the Glass House strain library, get your caryophyllene on with our Flo White or GG4.
Ok, limonene is an easy one because all you need to do to remember it is to think of limes! That is because limonene is closely associated with citrus and fresh fruit flavors. Some also find limonene’s fresh zest can spark a boost of focus or serve to elevate one’s mood. To see what the fuss with limonene is all about, we recommend Glass House’s Mac 1 or R*ntz.
But those three have plenty of company! Here are some of the other terpenes you’ll frequently encounter as a modern cannabis consumer.
Like pinene, humulene is another terpene that will immediately have you thinking of the great outdoors — and maybe a cold beer! Conjuring a scent of wood and hops, humulene can be found in Glass House Farms strains like Astronaut OG, Golden Gas, and Super Silver Haze. Practically speaking, humulene is also valued for its properties as an appetite suppressant.
Not only fun to say, linalool is also the terpene you can thank for some of the citrus and lavender notes found in fruits and flowers. Included in the latter category is cannabis, where linalool is a notable terpene in several signature Glass House Strains, including our bestselling Gelonade as well as our Papaya Punch and R*ntz. As far as its benefits go, linalool is a popular terpene for those looking to reduce stress and relax. Like lighting a lavender candle – but for your mind!
Want even more? Glass House Farm’s Waiting Game features terpinolene, while our Tropic Heat and Sunset Heat both boast bisabolol in their test results. For the terpene guaiol, try our Orangeade or Channel Orange (notice a theme there?) or you can give ocimene a while with Glass House Farms’ Lilac Diesel.
Most importantly, remember: the choice is yours! Make the time to try different terpenes and find which combination is your ticket to bliss. We’ll be waiting for you at the box office.
Zack is a freelance cannabis and culture reporter. He served as San Francisco Weekly’s “Pacific Highs” columnist for six years, covering local equity programs, Bay Area cannabis news, and interviewing everyone from Willie Nelson to Rep. Barbara Lee. His other bylines include the San Francisco Chronicle, Leafly, California Leaf Magazine, The Nib, Vanity Fair, KQED, and Variety. Follow him on Twitter: @zackruskin.