The terpene profile of hybrid weed

Jun 19, 2024The nama Team
The terpene profile of hybrid weed-namaCBD

Terpenes are organic compounds that give cannabis strains their distinctive aromas and flavors. These aromatic molecules unlock the unique sensory profiles and effects that make hybrid cannabis much more balanced than pure indica or sativa strains.

A 2023 Korean study analyzed the terpene profiles of hybrid cannabis strains, identifying six out of 26 terpenes that accounted for around 81% of the variation between samples. These six terpenes are primarily responsible for the distinctive aromatic and therapeutic properties that differentiate between hybrid strains.

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What do terpenes do?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds produced naturally by many plants. In fact, most plants produce some form of terpenes. They are volatile compounds: they have a low boiling point and high vapor pressure, allowing them to vaporize quickly into the air. They're responsible for the distinctive aromas of herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables, but they also have other, more important functions. 

  1. Flavoring and aroma. Terpenes are responsible for the unique flavors and scents of many plants, including herbs, spices, and fruits. They're commonly used in the food and perfume industries to create distinct sensory experiences.
  2. Plant defense. Terpenes protect plants from herbivores and pathogens. Some of them can repel insects or animals that might eat the plant, while others have antimicrobial properties that guard against harmful microbes.
  3. Pollinator attraction. Many terpenes have pleasant scents that can attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. This helps plants reproduce.
  4. Environmental adaptation. Terpenes regulate the growth, development, and stress responses of plants, all of which help plants adapt to their environment. Some terpenes help plants tolerate heat or drought.
  5. Natural solvents. Because they can dissolve oils and other compounds, some terpenes are used as natural solvents and cleaning agents. 
  6. Insect repellents. Certain terpenes are used in natural insect repellents because of their ability to mask scents that attract bugs.
  7. Therapeutic potential. Many terpenes have been studied for their potential therapeutic benefits. Some have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, while others may help with memory and focus.

Terpenes in the cannabis plant

The production of terpenes in cannabis occurs within specialized structures called trichomes, where secretory cells synthesize and store these aromatic compounds alongside cannabinoids. Terpene biosynthesis begins with the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, followed by the action of terpene synthase enzymes that create the diverse array of terpenes found in the plant.

Genetics is the primary factor that determines a cannabis strain's terpene profile, but environmental factors and harvest timing also influence terpene composition. Once produced, terpenes are stored in the resin heads of glandular trichomes.

The effects and therapeutic benefits of hybrid cannabis are not just determined by individual compounds, but also by how all these compounds work together through the entourage effect

The entourage effect of terpenes and other cannabis compounds

The entourage effect is the synergistic interaction between cannabis compounds, mostly terpenes and cannabinoids. Terpenes work synergistically with other cannabis compounds such as Delta 9 THC and cannabidiol (CBD) to modulate their effects and potentially enhance their therapeutic benefits. 

Research points to certain terpenes mimicking the effects of cannabinoids and amplifying their activity. This offers clear evidence for the entourage effect and that terpenes can increase the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids. Here’s how they do it:

  1. Terpenes help THC and CBD cross the blood-brain barrier more easily. The blood-brain barrier is a protective layer of cells that prevents many substances in the bloodstream from entering the brain. Terpenes increase the permeability of this barrier by loosening the tight junctions between the cells, making it "leakier." This allows more cannabinoid molecules to pass through into the brain tissue.
  2. Terpenes also influence the way cannabinoids are absorbed and metabolized by the body. Some terpenes may affect the bioavailability of THC and CBD, potentially increasing or decreasing their concentration in the bloodstream. This can impact the onset, duration, and intensity of the cannabinoids' effects. 
  3. THC and CBD interact with specific receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce their effects. Terpenes modulate how tightly cannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS by affecting the shape or conformation of the receptor proteins. Depending on the terpene, this could make the receptor more or less responsive to cannabinoids, thereby enhancing, diminishing, or altering the cannabinoid effects. 
  4. Terpenes contribute their own therapeutic properties to the entourage effect. For example, some terpenes have sedative effects that may complement CBD's stress-relief properties, while other terpenes produce mood-elevating effects that synergize with THC to create a more balanced, uplifting experience.
  5. Terpenes may play a role in mitigating some of the negative effects associated with cannabinoids. For example, THC can impair memory and increase anxiety at high doses (although, at low doses, cannabis seems to improve memory and lower anxiety, which is why we recommend microdosing). Some studies suggest that terpenes may counteract the short-term memory impairment and anxiety associated with high doses of THC.

Hybrid cannabis strains have a greater variety of terpenes than pure strains. With this wider terpene profile, hybrids can provide a fuller range of therapeutic effects and an all-around better experience for the user. You get more bang for your buck instead of just a one-note high.

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List of terpenes and their effects in hybrid weed

Hybrid strains boast a diverse and complex terpene profile that sets them apart from pure indicas or sativas. They inherit a unique combination of terpenes from both parent strains. With hybrid cannabis, you can have a multifaceted sensory experience and a broader range of medicinal properties.

Let's dive into the terpenes commonly found in hybrid cannabis strains:

  1. Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. It’s known for its sedative and relaxing effects and an earthy, musky aroma also found in hops, lemongrass, and thyme. Myrcene enhances cell membrane permeability, allowing cannabinoids to be better absorbed by the body, potentially increasing their therapeutic effects. It may also possess pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
  2. Limonene is a common terpene with a citrusy, sweet aroma also present in lemons and oranges. It delivers uplifting and stress-reducing effects, alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Limonene may also have antibacterial and antifungal properties and it may improve the absorption of other terpenes and cannabinoids. 
  3. Linalool is a terpene with a floral, lavender-like aroma. It is known for its calming and sedative effects that help reduce anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Linalool may also possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anticonvulsant properties. You can find this aromatic compound in lavender, birch bark, and rosewood.
  4. Caryophyllene has a spicy, peppery aroma, also found in black pepper, cloves, and hops. It is the only terpene known to interact directly with the endocannabinoid system, specifically the CB2 receptors, which is why it may have potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Caryophyllene may also help brain cells from damage and could decrease the desire to consume alcohol.
  5. Pinene has a pine-like, woody aroma. It can also be found in pine needles, rosemary, and basil. Pinene is known for its potential memory-enhancing and alertness-promoting effects. It acts as a bronchodilator, improving airflow to the lungs. Pinene also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
  6. Humulene is a terpene with a hoppy, earthy aroma, also found in hops, sage, and ginseng. It has the potential to suppress appetite and also possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  7. Terpinolene is known for its uplifting and energizing effects at lower doses, while higher doses may have a more sedative effect. Terpinolene may also have antioxidant and antifungal properties. This terpene has a floral, herbaceous aroma also found in cumin, lilacs, and apples.
  8. Ocimene has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and decongestant properties. Its taste is sweet, woody, and citrusy, and you can also taste it in parsley, basil, and mangoes. Ocimene may also act as an insect repellent.
  9. Valencene is a cannabis terpene with a citrusy, sweet orange aroma, also found in Valencia oranges and grapefruits. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and insect-repellent properties.
  10. Geraniol is a terpene with a sweet, floral, rose-like aroma, also found in geraniums, lemons, and tobacco. It is known for its potential neuroprotective, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Geraniol also has insect-repellent effects.
  11. Bisabolol brings a sweet, floral aroma to hybrid strains, which you can also find in chamomile and candeia trees. It has potential anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and wound-healing properties. Because of its skin-soothing effects, bisabolol is often used in cosmetic products.
  12. Nerolidol is a terpene with a woody, fresh bark aroma, also found in ginger, jasmine, and tea tree oil. It is known for its potential sedative, antifungal, and antimalarial properties, and it may also enhance the absorption of other compounds through the skin.
  13. Camphene has a musky, earthy, fir needle aroma, also present in camphor oil, citronella, and ginger. It is known for its potential pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Camphene may also lower cholesterol. 
  14. Borneol, with its camphor-like, cool, minty aroma, is also found in rosemary, mint, and camphor. It packs analgesic, anti-insomnia, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.
  15. Phytol is a terpene with a floral, balsamic, and waxy aroma. You can also taste it in green tea, lemongrass, and wild lettuce. It is known for its potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties. Phytol may also have sedative effects, so it may help ease anxiety.
  16. Eucalyptol is a terpene with a refreshing minty aroma. It may offer respiratory benefits—it reduces nasal swelling and improves airflow in the lungs. This compound may also enhance focus and mental clarity and provide anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.

The cannabis plant is capable of producing over 200 different terpenes, but most hybrid strains usually only express a handful of dominant terpenes that make up the majority of their terpene profile. The exact number depends on the specific genetics and growing conditions. 

According to Israeli researchers, a typical hybrid strain packs a tasty punch with around 5 to 15 different terpenes present at high enough levels to impact the aroma, flavor, and user experience. They analyzed 108 different cannabis chemotypes (strains) and identified a maximum of 58 different terpenes across all samples, with the most abundant ones being β-caryophyllene, β-myrcene, α-pinene, limonene, and α-humulene (the specific isomeric forms of the caryophyllene, myrcene, pinene, and humulene). 

With such a diverse and synergistic blend of terpenes, hybrid cannabis strains offer a multidimensional experience that pure indicas or sativas cannot match. 

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Do terpenes have side effects?

Terpenes can cause side effects, especially when you consume higher doses of a cannabis product. At higher doses, terpenes can overwhelm your system and cause the following adverse effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness and increased sedation
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Allergic reactions (e.g., rash, itching, asthma)
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight (phytophotodermatitis)
  • Digestive discomfort
  • Kidney or liver toxicity
  • Impaired coordination
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Excessive dry mouth
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation or burning sensation

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Do terpenes affect the high?

Beyond just flavor and aroma, terpenes also shape your cannabis experience. Here's how terpenes influence a cannabis “high”:

  • Terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids to produce an entourage effect. They interact with cannabinoids to amplify the desired effects and temper those less desired ones for a customized high. Certain terpene-cannabinoid combinations produce unique highs. For example, caryophyllene synergizes with CBD for enhanced relaxation and stress relief.
  • Some terpenes increase the absorption and brain penetration of THC, enhancing its effects.
  • Each terpene produces its own unique effects. For example, limonene is uplifting and euphoric, while linalool provides calmness and sedation.
  • Terpenes such as pinene, terpineol, and limonene can heighten sensory perception. They can alter how you experience colors, sounds, and tastes during the high.

This complex interplay of terpenes allows hybrids to deliver a unique, multifaceted high that harmoniously blends relaxation, euphoria, and increased sensory awareness. For example, a hybrid dominant in limonene and myrcene may induce an uplifting yet physically calming buzz. Caryophyllene and linalool-rich hybrids offer potent anti-anxiety and pain-relieving properties. 

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Our proprietary formulations artfully blend invigorating limonene with calming linalool and euphoric myrcene with analgesic caryophyllene to energize your mind while soothing your body. Our edibles contain only the cleanest, highest-quality hemp-derived extracts, rigorously lab-tested for purity. 

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Hybrid terpenes FAQ

White Widow is often lauded for its exceptional terpene profile. White Widow is an indica-dominant hybrid strain, so it inherits its well-rounded effects from its indica and sativa parentage. This potent strain features a rich and diverse blend of terpenes, including caryophyllene, myrcene, and limonene. 

Caryophyllene contributes to its anti-inflammatory effects, while myrcene enhances its pain-relieving properties and induces a calming body high. Limonene adds a citrusy aroma and provides mood-enhancing and stress-relieving effects. Together, these terpenes create a complex profile that offers a wide range of benefits, making White Widow a favorite for both recreational and medicinal purposes.

Hybrid weed strains combine characteristics from both indica and sativa varieties, so they offer a versatile and balanced experience. These strains are cultivated to achieve specific effects by blending the best traits of their parent strains. For example, sativa-dominant hybrids might promote energy, creativity, and focus, while indica-dominant hybrids may provide relaxation, stress relief, and pain alleviation. 

Hybrids often have a varied chemical composition, including a wide range of terpenes and cannabinoids, which contribute to their unique psychoactive and medicinal properties.

Hybrid weed tailors your cannabis experience by combining the uplifting and stimulating effects of sativa strains with the calming and soothing effects of indica strains. This balanced approach allows you to enjoy a versatile experience, whether you’re seeking relaxation, pain relief, creativity, or social interaction. 

Hybrids can also be bred to enhance specific medicinal properties, such as anti-inflammatory effects or pain relief, which is why many medical cannabis users prefer hybrid strains over pure indica and sativa. This adaptability and wide range of effects make hybrids a more popular and effective option for safe and reliable cannabis consumption.

A high terpene profile in cannabis has a significant concentration of terpenes, which is typically measured in percentages. Anything above 2% of total terpene content can be considered a high terpene percentage. Some strains may have much higher percentages. A strain with a high terpene profile will have a more pungent aroma and flavor, as well as more pronounced effects from the combination of terpenes and cannabinoids. 

Myrcene is the terpene most commonly associated with a body high. Found abundantly in many cannabis strains, myrcene produces sedative and muscle-relaxing effects. These properties contribute to the “couch-lock” effect, where you feel deeply relaxed and physically calm. Myrcene’s presence enhances the strain's ability to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation, which makes it particularly beneficial for anyone seeking to alleviate chronic pain or stress. 

Limonene is the most euphoric terpene because it produces uplifting and mood-enhancing effects. It is prevalent in strains such as Durban Poison where it provides a citrusy aroma reminiscent of lemons and oranges. When you consume strains rich in limonene, you may feel:

  • An elation in mood and mild euphoria
  • An increase in energy and motivation
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Heightened sensory awareness
  • Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects
  • Relief from obsessive-compulsive behaviors

Terpinolene is one of the rarest terpenes found in cannabis. Unlike more common terpenes such as myrcene or limonene, terpinolene is present in only a few strains and smaller quantities. This terpene offers a unique aromatic profile with fresh, floral, and herbal notes. 

It is known for its sedative and anticancer properties. It also exhibits antibacterial and antifungal effects. Because it’s so rare, strains containing terpinolene, such as Jack Herer, are particularly valued for their distinct and multifaceted effects.

A hybrid high offers a balanced experience, merging the stimulating effects of sativa strains with the relaxing properties of indicas. Users typically feel a combination of physical relaxation and mental clarity. The high is influenced by the properties of the dominant strain.

  • Sativa-dominant hybrids might enhance creativity, focus, and sociability.
  • Indica-dominant hybrids provide more profound relaxation and stress relief. 

This balanced high makes hybrids versatile, and suitable for both daytime activities and evening relaxation. 

Hybrid weed, especially sativa-dominant strains, can be beneficial for workouts if taken in low levels. Hybrids offer energy, focus, and motivation, helping you stay active and engaged during exercise. They provide pain relief and reduce inflammation, which helps in post-workout recovery. 

A strain with a balanced terpene profile that includes limonene and pinene can enhance mood and mental clarity, making workouts more enjoyable and productive. Choose the right hybrid strain if you’re hitting the gym to avoid any sedative effects that could hinder your physical performance.

Hybrid weed is excellent for creativity. Sativa-dominant hybrids stimulate the mind, enhance focus, and reduce stress. This creates an ideal mental state for creative endeavors. The balanced effects of hybrid strains maintain a clear and inspired mind while also making you feel relaxed. These factors prolong periods of creative thinking without feeling overwhelmed. 

Strains with high levels of limonene and pinene are especially beneficial for their creativity-boosting properties. All these reasons make hybrid weed a popular choice for artists, writers, and other creative professionals.

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Lee, S., Kim, E. J., Kwon, E., Oh, S. J., Cho, M., Kim, C. M., Lee, W., & Hong, J. (2023). Identification of Terpene Compositions in the Leaves and Inflorescences of Hybrid Cannabis Species Using Headspace-Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry. Molecules, 28(24).

LaVigne, J. E., Hecksel, R., Keresztes, A., & Streicher, J. M. (2021). Cannabis sativa terpenes are cannabimimetic and selectively enhance cannabinoid activity. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1-15.

Niloy, N., Hediyal, T. A., Vichitra, C., Sonali, S., Chidambaram, S. B., Gorantla, V. R., & Mahalakshmi, A. M. (2022). Effect of Cannabis on Memory Consolidation, Learning and Retrieval and Its Current Legal Status in India: A Review. Biomolecules, 13(1).

Hanuš, L. O., & Hod, Y. (2020). Terpenes/Terpenoids in Cannabis: Are They Important? Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, 3(1), 25-60.

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Further reading

What to know about indica vs sativa vs hybrid strains

What does hybrid weed feel like?

Is hybrid cannabis an upper or downer?

The difference between sativa and hybrid

Which is better: indica or hybrid?

What are hybrid strains good for?

Is hybrid making you feel sleepy?

Is sativa or indica better for pain?

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