health | 11.08.2018

So... What is a Terpene?

Sam Anthony


Life on earth is made up of millions of different chemical compounds. One of those chemical compounds is called a terpene and cannabis plants contain a lot of them.

In fact, all plants have unique terpene profiles that create differences in taste and smell. Terpenes are largely responsible for why cannabis, lavender, or any other plant or flower smells the way that it does and why many fruits taste the way that they do.

Technically speaking, a terpene is an aromatic hydrocarbon that makes up about 140 of the chemicals in the marijuana plant. These aromatic organic compounds are also found in many other plants and are responsible for giving a plant its fragrance.

What makes terpenes so cool is that they can have a significant effect on the characteristics of the high produced by individual marijuana strains.

Terpene Science

According to a 2011 study, terpenes may interact with our endocannabinoid system, affecting how high one gets when smoking or ingesting marijuana as well as the characteristics of the high. There are more than one hundred terpenes in each flower but the dominant terpenes are what we can smell and what will contribute the most to the effects of the strain.

So, why should you care about terpenes? Terpenes are produced in the same part of the cannabis plant as THC and CBD in glands called trichomes. The reason that they are important is that, if you know your terpenes, you can tell what kind of high a strain will produce based on its terpene profile.

To put it simply, terpenes are largely responsible for why different strains produce different highs.

A good rule of thumb is that if the strain smells good to you then it will likely produce a high that is enjoyable to you, since the terpenes are what you are actually smelling.

The best way to find out what your favorite terpenes are is through trial and error. And, since we're talking about smoking weed that shouldn’t be too much to ask!

Read this next: These are the Terpenes Found in Your Favorite Strains