Learn about terpenes, strain profiles, and how to get the most from cannabis by taking advantage of the entourage effect.
If you’ve looked at a cannabis dispensary’s menu lately, you might notice that there are seemingly endless varieties of strains to choose from. But why are there so many strains?
For thousands of years, humans have been cultivating cannabis and breeding new varieties by the process of selection.
Along with this, each strain also has the potential to produce different varieties, known as phenotypes, which have unique and novel properties from their parents. Through phenotype selection, breeding, and cross-breeding cannabis, humans continue to this day to influence the genetic evolution of cannabis.
This is why there are countless strains to choose from, as well as new ones being born all the time!
Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced by the cannabis plant. They, along with other types of chemicals such as flavonoids, are responsible for the aromatic and flavor profiles of each strain.
They’re responsible for more than just the smells and tastes though, terpenes also influence the overall effect and properties of cannabis.
Terpenes are found throughout nature in all kinds of plants, but cannabis is especially good at producing a wide range of different terpenes. You can thank these compounds for the wonderful aromas and flavors in your favorite strain.
If you’ve ever smelled fresh flowers, cracked peppercorn, or enjoyed the relaxing aroma of lavender, then you’ve interacted with terpenes.
Plants use terpenes as chemical messengers to attract pollinators or deter predators, but in humans, terpenes exert unique beneficial properties. For example, the compound that gives lavender its lovely, relaxing scent is a terpene called Linalool, and the terpene that gives citrus fruits their invigorating aroma is called Limonene.
Cannabis has dozens of different terpenes, and each strain contains a characteristic combination that is defined as its profile.
Almost like a fingerprint, terpene profiles can tell you a lot about how a strain might affect you and what particular benefits it may give.
The entourage effect is a phenomenon that amplifies the beneficial properties of cannabis. It occurs when the presence of a full spectrum of naturally occurring cannabis compounds are present in the body.
As researchers studied the different properties of cannabinoids (cannabis compounds) such as THC and CBD, they discovered that their beneficial effects were limited when isolated. However, they discovered that including the presence of other naturally occurring cannabis compounds, primarily terpenes made the plant’s properties more potent.
They found out that different terpenes help cannabinoids travel throughout the body to different areas more easily. For example, Myrcene, a dank and fruity-smelling terpene that gives cannabis a berry, tropical, and pungent aroma, helps THC cross the blood-brain barrier more efficiently.
This means that, since there is more THC getting to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, strains that are high in Myrcene make THC have a more potent effect. This is why Myrcene is often referred to as the “couch-lock” terpene because strains high in this compound amplify THC’s relaxing properties leaving you stuck to the sofa unable to move.
Keep reading to learn how other terpenes work and how understanding strain profiles can help you pick the best strain for any occasion.
With countless strains to choose from, where do you even begin? In the past, the best place to start would have been with the three basic cannabis categories:
However, most cannabis strains today are typically hybrids. Hybrid strains share characteristics of both Indicas and Sativas, but usually lean towards one or the other.
Because of this, the industry is moving towards effects or moods, instead of simply using Indica, Sativa or Hybrid. Native Roots has it’s own Mood State Matrix, which basically allows customers to shop for cannabis products based on the mood they are after; Energetic, Uplifting, Focused, Relaxing and Sleepy.
Relaxing and Sleepy strains that have primarily indica-dominant genetics indicate that they will be more calming and sedating. These strains are also generally considered to be more potent and psychoactive due to their overall chemical profile.Uplifting and Energetic strains, usually sativa-dominant hybrids, are considered to be more stimulative, activating, and uplifting. While Sativa hybrids are also potent, their properties are typically more buzzing, cerebral, and relieving than the more relaxing Indica varieties.
However, if you know your terpenes you can simply look at a strain’s profile to predict its effects, or even better yet just use your nose if you are shopping in person.
For example, strains with a strong citrus fruit aroma (think lemons, limes, and oranges) often have a mood-boosting and uplifting effect thanks to their high Limonene terpene content.
Many people stick to what they know, which is why you’ll find a lot of people saying things like, “I’m a sativa person” or, “I’m more of an Indica person”.
However, the great thing about cannabis is you can customize your experience by choosing the right strain for the right occasion. Indica-dominant strains, such as relaxing and sleepy, are best reserved for sessions that require little physical effort, socializing, or complex activities. They are best used in the evenings and nighttime when you want to relax, relieve, and enjoy.
These indica dominant strains are a great choice for people that like to chill and relax while they enjoy cannabis without having to do too much.
Uplifting and Energetic sativa-dominant strains are generally used for more active occasions and social activities. And while Indica strains tend to make the body feel heavy and numb, Sativa strains tend to make the heady and body feel light and stimulated.
These strains are a good choice for people that enjoy experiencing the benefits of cannabis during the day while staying active, or those who find Indica strains to be too strong.
Focus strains also known as hybrid strains have the best of both worlds. Some hybrids are a 50/50 split between Indica and Sativa properties, while others lean towards one side or the other. Hybrids are great for getting specific with what you enjoy from your cannabis experience. They offer high potency, complex profiles, and incredible flavors that are truly unique.
Find all your favorite and freshest strains and cannabis products at one of our many Native Roots Cannabis Dispensaries, or browse our inventory online.