One of those leading investigators into the effects of terpenes for health and for high, is Dr. Ethan Russo, physician, ethnobotanist, and unimpeachable researcher. Recently, Ethan and Jahan Marcu, Chief Science Officer at Americans for Safe Access, published an extraordinary paper identifying the most prevalent of the 200 terps that make up what they call the “pharmacological treasure trove” in the plant.
Think of it. Kona Gold, Panama Red, Acapulco Gold, all these great 70s genetics that got some lucky people beautifully high had lower THC content than strains today, but they were rich in terpenes. The really amazing highs, the ones that take you in interstellar directions are the result of terpenes. Think of it like this: THC determines how wide the door to the brain opens; terpenes are the different paths that are illuminated once you walk through.
Once you know a little about how these smell molecules work, and if you’re lucky enough to live in a legal state where the chemical components of each strain is posted, you can pretty much predict the effects. A strain like Bubba Kush has a higher concentration of myrcene and linalool (hops and lavender) terps that cause relaxation and chill. Lemon Haze is richer in pinene and limonene (pine and lemon), which makes it more uplifting and clear.
The great thing is that you needn’t be a scientist to know the major aromas at play. Listen in!