Cannabis’ quality, flavor, aroma, and effects varies greatly from strain to strain—and terpenes and trichomes have a lot to do with it. In fact, terpenes are just as important in determining the strain’s potential medicinal effects as cannabinoids, like THC and CBD. 

When you consume THC or CBD concentrates that were produced from whole-plant extractions, you’ll typically see hundreds of additional trace compounds in the final product, that’s where the terpenes are. When you synthetically create a CBD product, those compounds do not exist. 

The benefit of whole plant extraction is that those additional terpenes are there to exponentially increase the effectiveness of the CBD molecules—these are known as ‘full-spectrum’ extracts

The medicinal impact of all those extra terpenes and trace cannabinoids (often called the “entourage effect”) ensures a product that delivers results. Understanding terpenes and what they do is the first step to selecting a cannabis strain that offers the benefits you need, whether it be anxiety relief or pain reduction or something even more specific. 

If this sounds confusing, no worries! We’re going to cover the basics and then break that down into a tit-for-tat comparison to fine wine to help you understand. Plus, we covered all the most common terpenes found in cannabis, below.

Key Takeaways

  • Cannabis is covered in trichomes (tiny appendages) that create terpenes (aromatic plant compounds) that vary in availability and concentration from strain to strain
  • There are many different terpenes naturally occurring in different plant species, and hundreds that have been found in cannabis
  • Understanding terpenes and their impact can help you determine which strains will provide the benefits you seek and can help you choose strains that meet your preferences for flavor, aroma, and effects