Just how significant are cannabis terpenes? They have certainly entered the language of cannabis to a greater extent in the past couple of years, becoming a key indicator of a plant's provenance. In this article we are going to take a closer look at two Paradise Seeds strains and their terpene testing results.
Why Does Cannabis Smell Like Fruit... or Cheese!
At a basic level terpenes are fuel for our sense of smell and taste, delivering scents that we recognize as being specific to certain cannabis varieties. Common smells/tastes we recognize are fruit (from berries to citrus), forest (pine to wood), sweetness or mint and scents/flavors such as sour, metallic or acid which are rewarding to savor (even if the descriptions can seem counter intuitive at times!).
If there was a blind smell test, then one only has to open the jar and take a sniff to be able to easily identify the difference between of Haze, Kush or Cheese. The distinctive scents - their individual calling cards - are the result of the terpenes they produce. Let's take Cheese for example; Pungent to the point of pushing the gag reflex at times, this strain's terpene profile is a blend of caryophyllene (spicy), pinene (sharp and sweet), and linalool.
Terpenes, essential oils producing a specific aroma, are not just limited to cannabis plants. They are in fact present across the spectrum of fruits and vegetables, and are even released by insects! As well as the immediate impact on fragrance, scientific research indicates that terpenes have effects on health - from anti-bacterial to stress relieving benefits.
Through the process of terpene testing, let's take a look at what is 'under the hood' of two popular strains from the Paradise Seeds collection: Sensi Star and Nebula ll CBD.
Sensi Star Terpene Testing Profile
This is our original premium strain, an indica variety with a high level of THC. The dominant terpenes in the Sensi Star profile are Myrcene, Limonene and Caryophyllene.
Sensi Star is distinctive thanks to a scent that is unique amongst other strains. As one of the Paradise Seeds breeding team reveals; "With a hint of cold metallic steel on the tip of the tongue the nose receptors experience a scent like squeezed lemon on a branch of fresh pine, with a finish that combines black pepper and woman's perfume."
The primary terpene is Myrcene which is also found in mango, hops and lemongrass. It has an earthy/spicy quality to its fragrance with physical effects that are dominated by sleepiness and stress reduction - Sensi Star is of course renowned for its powers of relaxation.
The secondary terpene is Limonene, a citrusy element whose refreshing fragrance makes it a common feature in perfumes. Limonene is recognised for having analgesic (pain relief) qualities and is also recognised for its anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties.
The tertiary terpene present in Sensi Star is Caryophyllene, which is characterized by a spicy, peppery fragrance. This is very common in many different edible plants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly it can also reduce the craving for alcohol.
Terpene percentages: Sensi Star
Alpha Pinen 0.02
Beta Pinen 0.05
Nebula ll CBD Terpene Testing Profile
The fruity taste of Paradise Seeds' Nebula ll CBD has been appreciated by users since we first released this sativa dominant strain in the early 2000s. When we created our first medical strains this variety became one our first CBD rich strains in the form of Nebula ll CBD. Its scent stands out with a very sugary characteristic, which some have compared to honey.
What does the breeding team say on the matter?! "Nebula is a heavy cloud of sugar - really similar to the Chong's Choice L.A. Amnesia. Pungent fresh fruits characterize the scent alongside the sweetness of honey, although such is its intensity that the smell will reveal itself as strongly as a freshly opened pack of white sugar!"
Terpene testing has found that the most dominant terpene in the Nebula ll CBD profile is again Myrcene, which is the most common found in cannabis strains. The tertiary terpenes present in the Nebula profile are Caryophyllene and Beta Pinen which contribute to those recognisable spicy and piney tones.
However, perhaps the most interesting element in the Nebula mix is the secondary terpene, Terpinolene which is one of the less common of the terpenes that appear in the big 10 list.
Terpinolene has a sophisticated bouquet that is not easily characterized by a specific fragrance. It includes a hint of pine, a pinch of flower, a touch of herb and even a tickle of citrus! It has relaxing effects and reported medical benefits that include anti-fungal and ant-bacterial qualities, with some evidence that it may have a role in heart disease risk reduction.
Terpene Percentages: Nebula ll CBD
Alpha Pinen 0.03
Beta Pinen 0.06
How many Terpenes are Present in Cannabis?
It is estimated that a cannabis plant can produce over 200 terpenes, although of these there are a small number which are present in most cannabis varieties. These include common terpenes such as the citrusy Limonene, pine infused Pinene, clove-like Myrcene and the spicy pepperiness of Caryophyllene.
Each cannabis plant variety has its own unique terpene profile, with different percentages of terpenes present in the mix. There are usually two or three terpenes that predominate and this will give a certain cannabis strain its dominating characteristics - perhaps a piney fragrance with a spicy undertone.
Aside from the fragrance aspect these terpenes also have physical effects on the body - from energy giving to stress relief and relaxation. It is important to remember that an individual cannabis strain will encompass a range of terpenes which is why a fragrance will have levels - perhaps a dominant citrus with underlying spicy tones.
As you can see from the results of these terpene tests, there's a lot to offer the nose in every cannabis strain than the first sniff reveals! While picking out individual terpenes is a challenge, due to the subtleties of tone, exploring this power of fragrance (and the science behind the individual effects) can open up a wonderful new window onto the world of cannabis.