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The Ultimate Guide to Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

This article was originally written for Colorado-based Silverpeak Cannabis, a grower of premium cannabis. The original article can be found here: The Ultimate Guide to Terpenes and the Entourage Effect


One of the questions our budtenders often get from shoppers looking to get the best bang for their buck is, “which strain has the highest THC levels?” This would seem like a fair question since THC is the cannabinoid most responsible for the high which we get from marijuana. You’re paying for the buzz, not the bud, right? But the idea that the bud with the highest THC content is the best bud is a misconception. It’s based on limited knowledge of how cannabis works in our bodies. A factor that is just as important as cannabinoids is terpene content


A good metaphor for this concept is that of shopping for alcohol. You don’t walk into a liquor store and ask for the bottle with the highest alcohol content. Most people who buy alcohol are looking for a superior experience, such as taste, smell, quality, drinkability, and effects, rather than just trying to get as drunk as possible. That experience not only depends on which kind of alcohol you choose — be it beer, wine, or some type of spirits — but the setting in which you’re using it, the food that’s being served, and, of course, personal taste.


Even within a particular category of alcohol, there are a variety of choices to be made. A lager beer is different than an ale. Red wine and white wine have similar but different effects. Whiskey and tequila have vastly different tastes and effects.


Also, the quality of the alcohol you purchase can mean the difference between feeling great in the morning or waking up with a pounding headache.


The same is true for cannabis. Different strains provide different effects and experiences. Two buds with identical THC percentages might provide vastly different effects. For instance, sativa strains are known to provide an energizing effect, whereas indica strains are known to have a relaxing effect. And within each of these families, there are often subtle or even dramatic differences in effect. Each strain also has its own unique aroma and flavor.


Why is this? What accounts for the variety of aromas and effects provided by different strains of cannabis? Sure, the levels of cannabinoids have a lot to do with the high, but there’s another family of compounds produced by cannabis which is responsible for not only the scents and flavors of cannabis but the type of effects which a particular strain offers. These compounds are called terpenes.


Continue reading: The Ultimate Guide to Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

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