Much like how wine has an aromatic bouquet, so does cannabis. Known as terpenes, these organic compounds give cannabis strains a unique smell, ranging from sweet to spicy to lemony.
More than 100 different terpenes can be found in the cannabis plant, and each strain leans toward a terpene type and composition. One strain may have more blueberry-like terpenes, while another will give off a lime-like smell. Consider terpenes the essential oils of cannabis, but some of them also carry medical benefits.
The tapestry of odours in cannabis strains are often consisting of the four most common terpenes researchers have identified so far:
Caryophyllene is a well-known terpene that emits a spicy or peppery aroma found in several cannabis strains. Often known as a sesquiterpene, due to its larger molecular size, caryophyllene can also be found in black pepper, oregano, basil and rosemary.
Pinene is another common terpene and, as you can guess by its name, it adds a pine aroma to certain cannabis strains. Pinene is also known to act as an effective anti-inflammatory and antiviral compound, as a 2011 study pointed out. This terpene can be found in sativa, hybrid and indica strains.
Limonene features the scent of lemons and citrus fruit, and is often used in food manufacturing and as a fragrance in cosmetic products. Digestive issues can be alleviated through limonene’s powerful antibacterial and antifungal effects. Some studies have also boasted of limonene’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Mood elevation and combatting acid reflux are other reported benefits of limonene.
Linalool’s aroma evokes hints of lavender, citrus and coriander, and in commercial uses it’s often found in soap, shampoo and even insect repellants. Linalool has been regarded as an analgesic, making it appealing for people with chronic or acute pain.
The next time you smell your dried-bud flower or oil, remember how terpenes play a vital role in that smell wafting through your palate.