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In-terp-reting Your High

In-terp-reting Your High

By: Kris Knox

Cannabis has a mysterious aspect that is just starting to be understood: what drives your high. In recent years, it has become clear that the cannabinoids aren’t the sole factor in the direction the high takes. Recent research is showing that terpenes may be more responsible for our high that we think. Terpenes are volatile, meaning they evaporate easily at room temperature. Linalool is the primary terpene in lavender, responsible not only for its characteristic smell, but also the calming effect the herb exhibits. Over 22,000 different terpenes have been recorded in nature, and cannabis holds roughly 200 terpenes. If you have ever dabbled with essential oils than you’re already working with terpenes!

As far as we know, the high from cannabis utilizes a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes to create what is known as the “entourage effect.” Named for obvious reasons, the entourage effect simply means that when multiple cannabinoids are working together, they will work better and exhibit synergy. Using multiple cannabinoids at once allows your body to maximize receptor capacities, leading to an increase in psychoactive effect.

Since cannabis has such a large number of terpenes, it would be overwhelming to go through each one. Here are five of the more common terpenes that you are more than likely to interact with the next time you use cannabis:



Scent profile: Citrus

Benefits: --Anti-Carcinogenic --Anti-Fungal --Anti-Bacterial --Low Toxicity

--Immunostimulant --Anti-Proliferative --Anti Gastro distressor

Boiling Point: 349℉

Effects: Mood Improvement/Euphoria, Anti-anxiety, Anti-Depressant

Also found in: Lemon, Orange (Citrus)

Strains with Limonene: Super Lemon Haze, Durban Poison, SFV OG

Additional info: Anticarcinogenic: Efficiently passes through the blood-brain barrier to prevent deterioration of the RAS gene, a contributing factor to tumor growth.



Scent profile: Clove, Musk

Benefits: --Antioxidant, --Anti-carcinogenic; --Good for muscle tension, --Sleeplessness, --Pain Reduction, Anti-inflammatory, --Anti-Depressant

Boiling Point: 334℉

Effects: Sedating “couchlock”, Relaxation

Also Found in: Mangos, Hops, Thyme, Lemongrass, Basil

Strains with Myrcene: Pure Kush, Blue Dream, White Widow, Skunk #1

Additional info: Decides The Sativa/Indica High (>0.5%=Heavy High, <0.5% = Energetic High)



Scent profile: Peppery, Woody, Clove

Benefits: --Anti-septic,--Anti-bacterial --Antifungal --Anti-tumor and --Anti-inflammatory.

Boiling Point: 320℉

Effects: Unknown (No Detected Psychoactive Effects)

Also Found In: Black Pepper, Clove, Oregano, Basil, Hops

Strains with Beta-Caryophyllene: Chemdawg, Bubba Kush, Girl Scout Cookies

Additional info: Binds selectively to CB2 receptors, therefore increasing the medical benefits of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)


Scent profile: Pine Trees/Dill

    A-Pinene: Pine Needles, Rosemary

    B-Pinene: Dill, Parsley, Basil

Benefits: --Anti-Bacterial, --Anti-Inflammatory, --Bronchodilator, --Anti-Tumor

Boiling Point: 311℉

Effects: Mental Alertness, Mood Improvement, Reduces Memory Loss

Also Found In: Conifer Trees, Pine Trees, Orange Peel, Sage

Strains with Alpha/Beta-Pinene: Durban Poison, Super Silver Haze, Jack Herer

Additional info: Has increased ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing neurotransmitters to amplify memory retention



Scent profile: Lavender

Benefits: --Analgesic, --Anti-Depressant, --Anti-Convulsant, --Anti-Inflammatory

Boiling Point: 388℉

Effect: Relaxing, Sedating

Also Found In: Lavender, Coriander, Rosewood

Strains with Linalool: Grand Daddy Purps

Additional info: One study by the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Calabria, Italy found that linalool’s anti-cancer activity was comparable to the commercial anti-cancer drug Vinblastine.

With the knowledge of terpenes and their properties you can begin to notice the common trends in your high. The sharp tinge of orange in that joint of Agent Orange is the limonene bursting out to expand the energy and euphoria, whilst that heavy musk of the myrcene in Afghani gives the pain relief and sedation. Now you know why your first instinct with cannabis is to smell and gain a sneak peak of each strain with a simple whiff. Never forget: Your nose knows!  

Want to learn more? Here is a list of a few more popular terpenes if you’d like to expand:

Delta 3 Carene