You’ve probably heard about “terpenes,” the fragrant oils that give each strain of cannabis (as well as countless other plants, and trees, and herbs) their distinctive flavor and aroma. The peppery bite of Rockstar? That’s caryophyllene you’re tasting. The delicious “Christmas tree” aroma of classic Jack Herer? That’s probably pinene you’re smelling.
But terpenes do a whole lot more than give cannabis its delightful aromas and flavors. It turns out that terpenes do a lot for our bodies, like easing inflammation and fighting unwanted bacteria. And they can impact your high in some surprising ways!
If you’ve ever found yourself leaning towards certain strains again and again, there’s a good chance it’s their terpenes you’re lovin’ on. With that in mind, here are some of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis, along with some of the ways they can impact your high.
What Effects Do Terpenes Have on Your High?
We have to start with myrcene because it’s the most abundant of all the terpenes (and there are over 200 of them!) Some botanists even call myrcene the “mother of all terpenes” for its importance. One indicator is the fact that the amount of myrcene occurs in any given cannabis plant will determine whether it has a sativa-like energizing effect or an indica-like sedative effect.
That’s a clue. Myrcene can impact you high by active as a sedative. Not only have studies shown it’s a muscle relaxer, but it’s often called on as a sleep aid. Nighty nite! It’s common, especially in indica-leaning strains.
This bright, citrusey terpene is found in—duh—lemons, but many other types of citrus fruit as well. That mild uplift you get when smelling fresh lemons—or even citrus-scented dish soaps? It’s real, one reason limonene is used extensively in home goods like cleansers.
When it comes to the all-important question of your high, limonene does the exact same thing, offering a gentle mood enhancer that helps chase the anxiety and stress away. One study suggests that it’s helping increase our body’s supply of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
You can find limonene in strains like White Widow, Purple Punch and White Fire OG.
If you’ve ever smelled the subtle scent of lavender wafting out of your bowl, you’re probably detecting linalool. Also found in mint, cinnamon and some citrus fruits, it’s got a long history as an all-natural stress-reliever. Don’t believe us? Bury your face in a lavender-scented eye mask or pillow and tell us you you don’t feel better!
The same thing goes for linalool in cannabis. Imparting a soothing sedative and anxiolytic effect, linalool helps us shed anxiety and stress, one reason it’s so popular in aromatherapy.
You can find linalool in such strains as—no surprise—Lavender, LA Confidential and Amnesia Haze.
This terpene is found in both cannabis and green tea, leading some researchers to wonder whether it’s responsible in part for the unique calming effect common to both plants. It interacts with the GABA system in our brain, which in turn promotes better sleep and improved calm and mood, among other effects.
While phytol isn’t as common as some of the other terpenes we’ve mentioned, it’s found in the blockbuster Sour Diesel strain, as well as OG Kush and Cheese.