To truly differentiate their product, brands should start talking less about strains and more about terpenes.
Cannabis cultivars come in a full spectrum of aromatic and therapeutic profiles. Some strains smell like fresh citrus and deliver energizing effects, others evoke lavender’s soothing scent and properties.
And it’s all because of terpenes.
Terpenes, or “terps” in colloquial terms, have a massive influence over cannabis, and in our opinion, they’re under-utilized marketing tools that can give brands a competitive advantage.
But too often brands, and those who sell cannabis, separate cannabis into two categories: Indicas and Sativas. This is an old way of thinking about the plant that we need to retire.
Terpenes are the true differentiator. Here is an overview of hemp and cannabis terpenes, their effects, and why terpene testing is imperative for cannabis and hemp marketing.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are fragrant oils in plants. Their purpose is to lure in pollinators or repel hungry predators. Essentially, terps are a plant’s built-in defense system. Terpenes aren’t exclusive to cannabis; they’re present in all plant types, from fragrant flowers to hearty vegetables.
Researchers have recognized more than 100 terpenes in cannabis, though some are only present in trace amounts. Each terpene works with cannabinoids and flavonoids to make up a strain’s unique identity. Terpenes also work in tandem with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to heighten the therapeutic properties and minimize adverse effects. This synergetic process is described as the “Entourage Effect.”
Terpenes’ unique cannabis benefits
Studies have shown that the terpenes work with the full spectrum of plant compounds to deliver each cultivar’s distinct effects. Because just like cannabinoids, terpenes can cross the blood-brain barrier. Some of the more common cannabis terpenes include:
- Myrcene: Earthy scent with calming and sedative effects. It can sometimes be mood-boosting in smaller amounts.
- Limonene: Citrusy scent with antioxidant properties. Also found in citrus fruits, like oranges and lemons.
- Linalool: Floral scent with relaxing, soothing effects. Also found in essential oils, like lavender.
- Caryophyllene: Woodsy scent, also found in black pepper. Unique because it can bind with the CB2 receptor, meaning that it acts as a cannabinoid.
- Αlpha-humulene: Earthy and spicy scent with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s present in beer hops.
- Pinene: Pine-like scent. It acts as a bronchodilator to relax muscles in the lungs, widening the airways. Also found in pine trees and spices like rosemary and basil.
Research shows that terpenes are essential to overall cannabis profiles (aka chemovars), yet misconceived notions about Indica and Sativa strains continue to dominate the conversation. Unfortunately, simplifying cannabis into these two broad categories is false and hinders a brand’s ability to differentiate its products from the crowded marketplace. So, let’s zoom in on the problem.
The Indica vs. Sativa problem
At one time, Indica and Sativa referred to distinct cannabis plants from different regions. Today, most strains are hybrids between the two, yet brands perpetuate the story that all Indicas are sedative while all Sativas are energizing.
A 2021 study concluded that the Indica-Sativa scale didn’t correspond to genetic similarities in plants. Instead, researchers found that Sativa strains were just as closely related to Indica strains as to other Sativas–and vice versa. The study also discovered that cannabis strains with the same name bore more genetic resemblance to different strains than each other.
The same study found that the terpene content was more indicative of a strain’s overall genetic profile. Therein lies the key to successful cannabis marketing.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Roger Brown on Green Entrepreneur
Published: June 10, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News