What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds that endow cannabis with its unique scent. Terpene analysis is crucial for differentiating between strains of cannabis, as terpenes have a major influence on the medical and psychological effects of a plant. In fact, the relationship between cannabinoids and terpenoids, known as the “entourage effect,” ultimately distinguishes one strain of medical cannabis from another.
Why does terpene analysis matter?
Terpene analysis is beneficial for patients, providers, and breeders alike.
- Understanding terpenes is essential to helping patients identify the right strain for their symptoms.
- Terpene analysis allows collectives and budtenders to customise treatment programs for their clients and optimize a strain’s pharmacological effects.
- Through understanding terpenes, breeders can selectively modulate the terpene ratios of their strains, in order to maximize desired benefits.
Over the past several decades, mass hybridization of cannabis has led to a high level of homogeneity across strains. As breeders focus on decreasing flowering times, increasing yields, and breeding for intoxicative properties, virtually all strains have developed similar cannabinoid profiles; they contain relatively high THC levels and scarce amounts of other cannabinoids. At present, nearly all differences between popular cannabis strains result from variations in terpene profiles. However, terpenes not only modulate the effects of THC, CDB, and other cannabinoids, but they also possess medicinal values of their own. When viewed holistically, it is these capabilities that produce the entourage effect.
How does SC Labs test for terpenes?
SC Labs uses gas chromatography with flame ionized detection (FID) to test over 35 commonly found terpenes. Our list currently includes:
- Geranyl acetate
- (-) Caryophyllene Oxide
To learn more about these Terpenes visit our Terpene Education page.