Over 100 different types of terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, with flavor profiles ranging from “cheesy” to “piney.” It’s these pungent oils that give each cannabis strain its own distinctive citrus, mint, berry, spicy, woody, or clove-like flavor. Just like a fine wine, many factors affect a plant’s terpene development – climate, weather, age, maturation, soil type, and fertilizers, to name a few.
Modern Canna tests terpene content because we know that understanding the unique fingerprint of a particular cannabis strain is paramount to providing consumers with the right product for their individual needs.
Terpenes are about so much more than flavor. More and more, the influence of terpenes are being studied, not only for their psychoactive and physiological effects; however, for their medicinal benefits in tandem. Similar to THC, terpenes bind to receptor sites in the brain to affect the production of dopamine and serotonin. Terpenes work in concert to catalyze or inhibit the effects of other compounds (like THC) in the body. Certain terpenes are associated with relieving stress, pain, aiding sleep, improving focus, and diminishing nausea.
Terpenes are a set of simple organic molecules present in all living organisms. Most of the flavors and aromas of plants derive from their terpenes. You can find myrcene in thyme and hops, limonene in citrus fruits, and linalool in cinnamon and mint, for example. In the wild, terpenes work — in the most basic sense — to attract pollinators and repel predators.
Terpene analysis broken down
Terpene analysis is beneficial for plant cultivators, processors, healthcare providers, and consumers alike, as it helps:
- Determine the types and amounts of individual terpenes present in a strain
- Optimize a strain’s pharmacological benefits
- Identify the right strain for a patient’s symptoms
- Guide the proper method of delivery, according to boiling points
- Reveal cases where identical strains are being sold under different names
- Contributes to the standardization of phytochemical composition for consumer safety and medicinal efficiency
How is Terpene testing performed?
Modern Canna uses gas chromatography with flame ionized detection (GC-FID) and mass spectrometry (GCMS) to separate and quantify commonly found terpenes in cannabis.
With mass spectrometry, molecules are separated in the chromatography column and blown apart by a spectrometer into predictable mass fragments that can be matched with similar profiles in our database. Using flame ionization, the compound exits the column and is burned in the flame, which will produce an electrical signal directly proportional to the amount of compound present. The tests can be adjusted based on the delivery methods used, whether eaten, smoked, swallowed, or topically applied.
Strain Terpene profiles
Some popular terpene strain profiles we identify include the:
- OG Kush terpene profile – An earthy, woody pine aroma, known for its relaxing, euphoric effects to relieve stress and tension headaches, while improving attention, motivation, and focus. This popular hybrid strain includes a mix of alpha-pinene, limonene, and myrcene to create its signature flavor and effects.
- Linalool terpene profile – A floral, candy-like aroma found in lavender and coriander, linalool reduces pain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, seizures, and psychosis.
- Myrcene terpene profile – Musky and earth, with notes of tropical fruit; found in mango, lemongrass, eucalyptus and hops, this terpene may treat spasms, pain, insomnia, depression, and inflammation; it is also known to enhance the psychoactive effects of compounds like THC to increase relaxation. Myrcene is the key terpene in differentiating indica and sativa cannabis strains.
- Limonene terpene profile – This bitter citrus aroma can be found in peppermint, fruit rinds, rosemary, and juniper. It’s known for having anti-fungal properties, boosting one’s mood, dissolving gallstones, and removing heartburn.
- Caryophyllene terpene profile – A rich, spicy aroma found in cloves and black pepper known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties; recommended for patients with arthritis, autoimmune disorders, addictions, and gastrointestinal complications; activates cannabinoid receptors.
- Alpha/Beta Pinene terpene profile – This sweet pine aroma is found in dill, parsley, basil, and pine; treats inflammation and asthma, with effects like alertness and improved memory retention probable; counteracts some THC effects.
- Humulene terpene profile – Similar to hops or coriander aroma, this terpene fights inflammation, cancerous cells, and bacteria, while also diminishing appetite.
- Terpinolene terpene profile – Found in apples, cumin, tea-tree, and lilacs, this woody, smoky aroma fights insomnia, fungus, and bacteria.
- Camphene terpene profile – Found in essential oils, Camphere provides antioxidant effects and shows promise for pain relief.
- Phytol terpene profile – This subtle aroma is also found in aged green tea, and aids with sleep.
- Bisbolol terpene profile – With a citric, floral aroma, this terpene has been used in cosmetics for its anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.
The future of Terpene testing
Most cannabis cultivators begin by mapping out different strains in order to breed plants that produce greater amounts of specific terpenes, which increases the beneficial effects of their products and reduces the likelihood of unwanted side effects.
Modern Canna is dedicated to maintaining our exceptional reputation by offering a variety of analytical solutions specifically developed for customers interested terpenes. To find out more, contact our Lakeland, FL cannabis testing lab, by submitting an inquiry here.
Additional “Cannabis Terpenes Testing” resources:
- Leafly, What are Cannabis Terpenes, and How Do They Affect You? https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/infographic-what-are-cannabis-terpenes-and-how-do-they-affect-you
- AOCS, The Highs and Lows of Cannabis Testing,