The technical definition of a terpenes probably won’t clear much up, but here it is: Any of a large group of volatile, unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees. They are based on a cyclic molecule having the formula C10H16. They are the main plant resin or “essential oils” and contribute to the scent, flavor and colors of plants.
Here is a short video from Leafly, an recognized industry partner, with an Introduction on Terpenes that Relate to Cannabis
As that video closes with, Terpenes are The Next Frontier of Discovery.
The easiest way to get your mind around them (albeit not 100% correct) is to think of them as essential oils. Essential oils typically have effects on people. For instance, Lavender typically causes one to be sleepy. Various terpenes also have effects on people. And, that’s what we’re aiming for…their effects. For most people, they are subtle effects, but they are definite effects none the less.
Where Do Terpenes come from? Terpenes come from various plants. Many are found naturally in hemp and marijuana. Other terpenes are found in plants like Rosemary, Clove, Sage, Black Pepper and so many more. These are the naturally occurring, organic chemical compounds that provide various trees, plants and flowers their individual aromas and flavors.
Now that we’re starting to wrap our heads around what they are, where they come from, etc, we’ll dive a little deeper, but not too much so. Basically, terpenes are what make up the various essential oils that are found in plants. Some terpenes are found in numerous plants. Example: Pinene, as you might suspect is found in conifers like Pine Trees and is key to their identifiable scent, but also other plants such as Ironwort, Sage, Cannabis, Turpentine Tree and the Makrut Lime. Regardless of whether Pinene is extracted from a Pine Tree or a Sage plant, it is still the same terpene with the same effects and flavor.
Terpenes are used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes and therapies, as natural food additives for flavoring and scents and as scents for perfumes and colognes.
Interestingly for many on this website, various strains of cannabis and hemp plants have various mixtures of terpenes. And, some cannabis and hemp plants have a combination of over 100 various terpenes. As these terpene mixtures vary from strain to strain, this is one reason for the varying effects felt when enjoying these plants. One plant = cannabis, but the many strains can provide many different effects because of the varying terpene blends. Terpenes are very integral determinants in the varying effects the various strains. This is also the case with all plants. This is why some pine trees smell so much stronger or sweeter or more pungent than others.
Terpenes are Key Ingedients for the Scent, the Taste and the Effects
Many terpenes have been shown to enhance the flavors and effects of hemp and cannabis.