Talkin’ Terps: a new monthly science series

Talkin’ Terps: a new monthly science series

Get a whiff of this: the smell of your strain says more about the experience you can expect to have with it than any “indica/sativa” label. That’s all thanks to terpenes – oils secreted in cannabis plants that lend a unique aroma to each bud and provide nose-tingling clues about a strain’s effects.

As any horticulture nerd would tell you, terpenes are key to plant adaptation and protection from predators. It just so happens that the same scents attracting pollinators are often also pleasant to humans – mint, berry, lemon, cheese, etc (okay maybe cheese is more of a love/hate, but you get it).

There have been over 100 different terpenes identified in cannabis plants, and no two strains have the same composition. In fact, subtlety is one terpene oil’s greatest strengths, as the interplay between terps and other compounds found in the plant is really what sets strains apart; remember: a cannabis plant can either have an indica or sativa structure, but everything else after that – how “high” you get, whether you’ll feel relaxed or energized – is a function of its terp profile.

Terpene oils aren’t unique to cannabis plants, either. A terp that lends a strain its “earthy” aroma might also be found in oregano, cumin, and thyme, for example. Testing terp profiles is becoming a much more common practice in labs, and the analysis is giving both wellness centers and patients a more complete picture of a strain’s benefits. When the same terp keeps showing up in strains that are known to produce a relaxing effect, it’s easier to narrow down recommendations to meet a patient’s needs.

Of course, like anything in this crazy cannabis world we live in, nothing with terpenes is an exact science. The so-called “entourage effect” – in which a terp can have its aroma and effects altered by the dozens of other compounds that share the same plant – is real, meaning most effect data is purely anecdotal. 

What we can focus on for sure, however, is the aroma. As we introduce you to some of the most common terps (and a few lesser-known ones that we happen to love), we’ll start with the smell and taste senses before diving into some of the observed benefits. Besides, we think scent is what attracts or turns off most patients to a strain in the first place. 

As we move through this series, you’ll meet Geraniol, Limonene, Ocimene, Pulegone and more (note: there’s no truth to the rumor that Pokemon characters were named after terps, or vice-versa). You’ll learn a little about what they do, and a lot about what they taste like. We love geeking about the science behind the high, and terpenes are the best place to start. 

So let’s get started with the big one: Myrcene

Myrcene facts:

Most common terpene found in cannabis


Earthy, herbal, cloves

Also found in:

Mango, hops, thyme, lemongrass, basil

Observed benefits:






Sample strains:

Member Berry

Rug Burn OG

Kali Kandi

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