Why do different strains of cannabis have different effects? Here’s a hint: it has to do with a lot more than just THC percentage. In actuality, there are several different compounds in cannabis that can affect your high.
The entourage effect is a theory that states when all of the different compounds within cannabis are used in conjunction, the overall potential therapeutic benefits are higher than if you were to use any of those compounds individually. In addition to cannabinoid makeup, a strain’s individual terpene profile is a huge indicator of what kind of effects it might produce.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in most plants in our ecosystem and are especially abundant in cannabis. Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis that give different strains their distinctive smells. Terpenes are actually an adaptation that discourages predators from eating the plant, but growers have been able to take advantage of this adaptation to breed strains with varying effects and therapeutic benefits. So, how do terpenes affect your high?
Terpenes have been shown to have several distinctive effects and therapeutic benefits when used in conjunction with cannabis. The most dominant terpene in a particular strain will often determine the strain’s effects. There are over 100 terpenes that have been found within cannabis, but the five most common are myrcene, caryophyllene, pinene, limonene, and terpinolene.
Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis. It offers a classic, herbal aroma. A strain high in myrcene, such as Blue Dream or OG Kush, is likely to provide calming and sedative effects.
Caryophyllene is the second most common terpene in cannabis. It is responsible for the pungent odors of strains like Girl Scout Cookies and Original Glue. Caryophyllene-dominant strains are helpful for stress and anxiety relief.
Pinene is another terpene that induces calming effects. Pinene-dominant strains are uncommon (Big Smooth is one example), but pinene is commonly found as the second most abundant terpene in a strain. Strawberry Cough, Blueberry, and Tangie are all myrcene-dominant strains that feature pinene as the second most abundant terpene.
Limonene has a bright, citrusy aroma. Strains high in limonene (Strawberry Banana, Wedding Cake) are typically on the more energizing side.
Terpinolene has a fruity aroma with slight floral and citrus notes. Terpinolene-dominant strains like Tangie and Jack Herer typically provide a mood-elevating and uplifting high.
When used thoughtfully, terpenes are a powerful tool that can help you maximize the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Experimenting with different terpenes can help narrow down which terpenes provide you the most benefit. By assessing your needs and determining your desired effects, you can find the terpenes and strains that best fit those needs.
Terpenes are not the only cannabis compounds to discuss when talking about the entourage effect. The cannabinoid makeup of a specific strain also has a significant role. Cannabinoids are the compounds within cannabis that attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies and produce different effects. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most common cannabinoids.
Different strains will all have a unique composition of cannabinoids. Even the same strain from two different growers may have a slightly different makeup. When considering the effects of a specific strain, CBD and THC are the most important cannabinoids to analyze.
Remember that the total THC percentage of a product is actually the amount of THC plus the amount of THCA. This is because the cannabinoid THCA becomes THC when exposed to heat and light.
The primary difference between CBD and THC is that THC provides a psychoactive effect, while CBD does not. A CBD-only cannabis product is a great option for someone looking to reap the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without mind-altering effects. However, those consuming cannabis for adult-use should not gloss over this powerful cannabinoid.
Just because CBD doesn’t make you high doesn’t mean that CBD is useless to the adult-use cannabis consumer. A strain’s ratio of CBD to THC can affect the way that strain makes you feel. A strain with a more balanced THC/CBD ratio may be more suited for anxiety sufferers than a purely THC product. Research has also shown that CBD may also help hinder the paranoia and memory-loss side effects of THC.
Finding the right balance of cannabinoid makeup and terpene profile for your individual wants and needs can be tricky, and it requires a lot of trial and error. We’re here to help! Talk with your Oasis budtender about your preferences and needs so they can help point you in the right direction.