The therapeutic benefits of cannabis have become well-known in recent years, with more and more people turning to the herb to relieve a wide range of medical conditions.
The medicinal effects of cannabis are mainly due to cannabinoids which include THC and CBD among others. However, another group of compounds called terpenes also have a crucial role to play.
Terpenes are aromatic oils that contribute to the fragrance and taste of cannabis. They also have a wide range of health benefits, including enhancing the effects of certain cannabinoids.
Like many plants, cannabis uses terpenes as part of its defense against insects and herbivores. They are produced in small glands called trichomes, which is also where cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are synthesized.
As a cannabis plant matures, these trichomes turn from clear to milky white, and eventually to yellow or brown. Cultivators often use these trichomes as a way to determine when their plants are ready to harvest, with the milky white stage considered the optimal time.
Around 10% of these trichomes are made up of terpenes, with the rest comprising cannabinoids and other compounds such as flavonoids. The specific terpene and cannabinoid composition will vary depending on which strain you choose, its growing conditions, and harvest times.