Everybody who’s tried marijuana before is familiar with the fact that it is one of the more pungent plants out there. So what causes this anyway? Why does cannabis smell the way it does, and why is there such a variety to these smells? The answer: Terpenes.
Terpenes are essential oils, found throughout nature in just about everything worth a smell. From sage and lavender to oranges, mangos, and hops, terpenes are found in just about everything worth smelling. And the same goes for cannabis.
Terpenes are more than just smell, however. Independent studies have revealed that there may be some therapeutic value to the molecules when either ingested or inhaled. Think about this: how do you feel when you take a smell of fresh lavender? Generally, the pleasant smell leaves you feeling very relaxed, an excellent de-stressor. Another example: What happens when you bite into a lemon? Odds are the sour taste and smell will leave you awakened and invigorated. Well, there are terpenes associated with these feelings: Linalool in Lavender and Limonene in Lemons. And both of these terpenes, along with many others, are found in cannabis, providing similar effects. This week we are going to dive in to two of the most common terpenes found in cannabis: Myrcene and Limonene.
Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, with an odor described as musky, earthy, and herbal – similar to cloves. Myrcene can be found in a wide variety of plants, such as bay leaves, eucalyptus, wild thyme, and lemon grass. It’s no surprise that myrcene is found in hops as well, as hops and cannabis are cousins, both members of the family Cannabaceae.
But what exactly does myrcene do? This molecule has been known to possess many therapeutic qualities, which is especially pertinent to cannabis users seeking to find a strain that will best fit their desired outcome. Myrcene is best known as a “couch-lock” terpene, meaning that it’s properties are generally very sedative in nature. Users of a strain high in Myrcene can expect muscle relaxation, diminished inflammation, and a general feeling of sedation and comfort. Many Indica strains have higher concentrations of Myrcene, which explains their relaxing effects.
Myrcene is also known to lower the resistance across the blood-to-brain barrier, allowing a quicker uptake of THC. This means that strains higher in Myrcene will have a faster acting psychoactive effect in comparison to other strains with limited Myrcene content. Fun fact: some say that eating a mango (very high in Myrcene) 45 minutes prior to consuming cannabis will dramatically increase the effects of whatever strain of marijuana you may be smoking.
So, in summation, when you smell a strain of cannabis that bears a hoppy smell or reminds you of fresh mangos, be ready for a feeling of total relaxation and sedation, and make sure your couch is ready for an extended lockout.
Another active and common terpene found in cannabis is Limonene. Limonene smells of citrus, juniper, rosemary, or peppermint. Lemons and other citrus fruits contain high levels of limonene, which explains where the name is derived. If you smell a strain of marijuana that reminds you of fresh cut lemons, this should come as no surprise since both plants possess the exact same molecules.
So, what can this terpene do for us? Limonene is a known mood elevator, proven to be very beneficial to those suffering from depression. Therefore, strains high in Limonene promote a general uplift in mood and attitude, so if this is the effect you are going for, follow your nose to strains that bear that easily recognizable citrus smell. Think mom’s fresh squeezed lemonade next time you go about smelling strains. This is likely to lead you to sativa strains which are often associated with an uplifting and energizing effect.
Limonene has also been known to possess excellent medicinal qualities as well, bearing natural anti-fungal properties as well as an aid to acid reflux. This terpene also has anti-anxiety properties, which could be very beneficial to those prone to anxiety and paranoia yet seek the potential medical benefits of marijuana. Helpful tip: always have a glass of water with lemon nearby next time you try cannabis. This is an excellent use of Limonene that helps deter the potential side effects of anxiety and paranoia that is often associated with use of marijuana.
There we have it! These are only a few of the effects associated with Limonene and Myrcene. Who knows what we will discover as more studies of terpenes and their role on cannabis are revealed over time. Until then, just remember to follow your nose! Next time we dive in to more terpenes: Linalool and Caryophyllene.