The Truth About Terpenes (And How They Enhance Your High)
If you’ve spent much time in dispensaries – or with a particularly bud-savvy friend – you may have encountered a term that’s recently been generating a lot of buzz in the cannabis industry: terpenes.
What are terpenes? Simply put, they’re the chemical compounds that give all plants – not just cannabis – their distinct taste, smell, and effects. They’re responsible for scents like pine and lavender (and are even used to make essential oils), as well as the bitter taste of the hops in your favorite IPA. And when it comes to cannabis, terpenes are a big part of the reason some strains make you feel sleepy or subdued, while others might set your mind racing with inspiration.
In other words, terpenes play a really important role in determining the kind of effects your chosen cannabis product is going to produce. Yet they’re still not as well understood as they could be. So let’s take a look at some of the most commonly accepted beliefs about terpenes... and see if we can separate the misconceptions from the truth.
Belief #1: Terpenes Don’t Really Work in Edibles Some people don’t believe terpenes have any effect at all when ingested rather than inhaled. We won’t exactly call this belief a myth, because the science (at least as it relates to cannabis) isn’t totally conclusive. And it’s certainly true that, when you isolate THC from the rest of the cannabis plant to create the distillate found in most edibles, you do leave behind terpenes and other beneficial compounds.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that it’s possible to reintroduce these terpenes at a later stage of the cooking process, as long as temperatures remain below the terps’ boiling point. And there are a number of studies (involving plants other than cannabis) which have detected terpenes in the subjects’ blood following ingestion – including this one and this one. At Wana, we’ve found this evidence compelling enough to invest a ton of time and research in reintroducing terpenes to our edibles’ formula.
Here’s how Wana has approached the terpenes-in-edibles conundrum: we’ve partnered with Abstrax, an industry leader in terpene research, to analyze the terpene profiles of leading cannabis strains. We’ve used that information to create three class-specific terpene blends – a relaxing one based on the terp profiles of popular indica strains, a more motivating one based on top sativas, and a balanced one based on hybrid strains. These curated blends allow you to choose which Wana products you want based on the experience you’re hoping to have... and if our customers’ feedback is any indication, they’ve been well worth the effort.
Belief #2: Cannabis-Derived Terpenes Are Better than Botanically Derived Some folks believe that the terpenes used in edibles should only come from one place: cannabis. But this simply doesn’t make sense. On a molecular level, terpenes are the same no matter where they come from – for example, the compound linalool produces the same effects whether you extract it from a lavender plant or a field of Kush. The origin of the terpenes won’t make a difference as far as how the edibles make you feel.
And actually, there’s a pretty big disadvantage that comes with using terpenes derived only from cannabis. For one thing, they’re harder to come by, which can cause supply issues. For another, cannabis strains evolve slightly from harvest to harvest – meaning that the terpene profile of even one specific strain might change over time. So to use only the terpenes extracted from that strain might produce different effects with each new batch of edibles.
At Wana, we want to offer our customers consistent results every time. While our terpene blends do mirror the combinations found in cannabis strains, we derive the terps themselves from botanical sources like fruit. Unlike a cannabis crop, botanical sources provide us with an unlimited supply of the terpenes we need. They also allow us to recreate the same precise combinations – and, by extension, their effects – over and over again.
Belief #3: Some Terpenes Are More Important than Others Many companies feel it’s sufficient to work with only five or six of the most commonly occurring terpenes. At Wana, on the other hand, we believe nature is a subtle and miraculous thing – and there are no unimportant pieces of the puzzle. That’s why we infuse our products with more than 30 unique terpenes, bringing us as close as possible to the nuanced effects of the cannabis plant itself.
Wana know exactly which terpenes are in each blend? Check out Part 2 of this blog post for more terpene truths.
Now that you’ve got the basics, we’ll leave it to you to try our products and draw your own conclusions. But suffice it to say: we at Wana are true terpene believers!
A version of this blog post was first published on cannabisnow.com.