Terpenes: A New Classification System

Renee SmaldinoCBD Marijuana Blog, THC Marijuana Blog

Have you ever wondered why some cannabis flowers have powerful, lingering odors that

can saturate an entire room, whereas other strains, barely skim their predecessors’

ferocious surface or even smell slightly as pungent? That is because cannabis contains


Terpenes are a sap-like secretion of the cannabis plant that are responsible for its’ scent

and taste. This secretion takes place in the plants’ resin glands and tri-chomes. Terpenes

are not specific to cannabis, though, and are found throughout nature in a range of diverse

plants. Terpenes are comprised of hydrogen and carbon atoms. The hydro-carbon

relationship creates bonds which have given us about “200 known terpenes in the cannabis


Unlike the sativa and indica classification system, terpenes are categorized in a more

personalized and systematic spectrum. The terpenes can be grouped according flavor,

smell, psychoactive, and synergistic effects. This means the patient can medicate with

terpenes to their own personal accord and customize their psycho-active experience.

Terpenes are available to the cannabis consumer in products usually coupled with

cannabinoids. Though you can purchase pure terpenes, their synergistic relationship with

cannabinoids offers a collaboration that is being praised for its’ diverse medicinal effects.

Some scientists now agree that terpenes, combined with certain cannabinoids, will deliver

highly-specialized therapeutic results that are not only strain specific, but work with the

patients’ natural body systems to alleviate and treat their ailments. Studies done by Berkley

Patients’ Care suggest:

“Many plant terpenes act synergistically with other terpenes and some serve to either

catalyze or inhibit formation of other compounds within a plant.  For example,

understanding the role of certain terpenes will allow scientists to manipulate cannabinoids to

desired ratios.  Some terpenes are said to modulate the physiological and psychoactive

effects of cannabis.”

This means that some terpenes will actually activate certain receptors to cause a symbiotic

relationship with cannabis in your body. This is also known as the entourage effect. The

entourage effect is important because it has been known to treat “nausea, depression,

inflammation, fungal/bacterial infections, chronic pain, addiction, epilepsy, and even

cancer.” Therefore, pairing terpenes with CBD or THC or both, will have an overall

therapeutic effect on your body, and will allow the consumer to have a more coherent

understanding of the medicinal properties of cannabis; which will offer a better frame-work

for your body’s unique composition and metabalization of terpenes.

For example, one naturally occurring terpene, called limonene combats depression,

strengthens the immune system, and has been known to fight the growth and spread of

cancer. According to Leafly, limonene “improves absorption of other terpenes and chemicals

by way of the skin, mucous membranes, and digestive tract.” Because limonene naturally

harmonizes with other parts of the cannabis plant, it increases the medicinal properties that

the patient will receive, and is a great terpene to pair with cannabinoids. Strains with high

amounts of limonene will also give you a lemony flavor, as well as an “uplifting” high.

Limonene is likened to have a “sativa” type effect on the body.

Another common terpene is called myrcene. Myrcene offers a sedative effect on the body

which many people would refer to as an “indica high.” Myrcene is unique because it is

considered a “precursor to many other terpenes,” and actually “helps form” them. It also

has the medicinal properties to work as an “anti-carcinogen, anti-depressant, and anti-

inflammatory.” Myrcene is heralded as one of the best terpenes to “increase the potency of

cannabis,” by means of the entourage effect, as it works effortlessly with other terpenes

and cannabinoids to offer therapeutic relief.

The new classification system of medical marijuana will actively engage the users with

terpenes in their medicine and provide them with a full-spectrum of side-effects, smells,

tastes, and quality of the plant that they desire. To identify these properties, it has taken an

unprecedented amount of research amongst dedicated scientists and continues to expand as

more lab-testing is conducted. This extensive research is important as it gives us the

capability as a consumer to harness the unique medicinal properties of cannabis in a highly

personalized way.