Terpenes are aromatic organic compounds: The types and amount of terpenes in different strains of cannabis can determine how that strain will taste and smell, and, some claim, how it will affect your mood. (It’s hard to say whether or not this is true since scientists face massive roadblocks when trying to do clinical trials on a plant that’s still federally illegal.) Some of the most common cannabis terpenes are myrcene, linalool, pinene, limonene, humelene, and caryophyllene.
Terpenes are found in plants other than cannabis too: pinene and limonene, for instance, are present in abundance in their namesakes, pine needles and lemons. And terpenes are a major component of one of the most common wellness products out there, essential oils. Some people claim that, much like essential oils, cannabis terpenes are capable of everything from calming to energizing to reducing inflammation to improving mental focus. Again, it’s hard to come by human studies on the specific effects of marijuana terpenes, but some research on non-cannabis terpenes suggests that certain strains do have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.
There are no doctor-recommended dosages for terpenes, so if you want to start taking them, you’re on your own in terms of figuring out what will work for you and how much to take. There are some basic guidelines: Linalool, also a major component of lavender, is calming and soothing, where pinene and limonene are thought to be energizing. Pinene may help dilate your lungs, which could make it an ideal ingredient in a pre-workout drink.
If you want to experiment with terpenes, concentrates are available from tons of online retailers, among them Global Cannabinoids, LA Refinery and Denver Terpenes. Because they’re derived from plants, they can help bring out the flavor in food and drinks in addition to their supposed therapeutic benefits. Be careful, though: The concentrates you’ll get are, well, concentrated, and they’re dispersed via eyedropper for a reason: One drop is usually enough.