THC Percentages Vs. Terpene Profiles: Becoming a More Educated Consumer
In Colorado, the consumer shopping experience has grown over time with the industry, yet there are quite a few misnomers still floating around in terms of how shoppers choose their preference in strain.
THC Total % AKA “The Elephant in the Room”
THC percentages have been misrepresented and misunderstood for quite some time. In my own experiences as a budtender and shop manager, I have had to explain to users that THC percentage is only a representation of the percentage of total cannabinoids in the particular plant being tested. As a consumer myself, I have never really made it a habit to shop for the highest THC or THC-a percentage flower that a particular dispensary carries. That’s due to my early introduction to terpenes and their wonderful effects.
How does this relate to you, the everyday consumer, who may just want to have a good time, or just get some much-needed sleep without having to induce a zombie-like state by throwing something mind-numbing on the television set? Well, that’s just it, nature has you covered! It’s no coincidence that chamomile and lavender smell relaxing, or that walking through a dense evergreen forest makes you feel like your lungs are opening up. There are larger forces at work, and that’s courtesy of mother nature.
You don’t go into your local pharmacy or grocery store and ask a physician for the most potent medicine without knowing if it’s right for your body and chemical makeup. So why as a consumer are we doing this in regards to purchasing cannabis?
The All-Powerful Percentage:
THC percentage is important, but we must realize that it represents only a percentage of a total of other cannabinoids; furthermore, it only factors cannabinoids into its equation. This completely ignores the prevalence of terpenes and their representation in the make-up of the flower as a whole. Since we are still learning how THC levels fluctuate when it is decarboxylated (heating to remove a carbon atom from the chain), the way THC and active-THC affect users is still being revised. As of July 1, 2018, Colorado changed the way that it characterizes THC to consumers by now combining THC and THC-a while factoring in the rate of loss by adding fire to the mix.
THCtotal = (%THCA) x 0.877 + (%THC)
What Exactly is a Terpene:
Terpenoids, also known as terpenes, are strong-smelling organic compounds found in many plants, trees, fruits, and cannabinoids. These terpenoids produce smells that we associate with strains and types, i.e. skunks, diesels, and pines. Other features of terpenes include repelling predators, attracting pollinators, interacting with cannabinoids, as well as a litany of medicinal effects.
Why Terpenes Matter:
Terpenes produce the effects that we associate with sativa and indica when one uses a particular strain. The website Prohbtd mentions that the terpene myrcene reacts with THC to produce infamous “couch lock” effect. This video on Prohbt should do wonders for visually explaining this more fully.
Think about terpenes the same way that you would think about supplying vitamins to your body by eating a balanced daily diet. As humans, if we just ate carrots all the time, we would only get vitamin K and B6, but there are other ways to get vitamin B6 as well as vitamin K.
The Skinny About Your Favorite Terpenes
Although there are countless terpenes found in nature, here are a few that are very common and that should help you make purchasing decision the next time you are at your local dispensary.
a-Pinene (Alpha Pinene)
Alpha-Pinene has been used for centuries as a bronchodilator in the treatment of asthma. Found naturally in conifer trees (evergreens) and orange peels.
Known for anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a treatment for spasms. Another ancillary effect of b-Myrcene is its ability to lower the barriers between blood and the brain, allowing other chemicals to cross the barrier with less effort. Finally, it can decrease the time for psychoactivity to onset, as well as help to produce a stronger effect. Found naturally in mango, hops, bay leaf, eucalyptus, and lemongrass.
Best known for the gastric reflux treatment-and-relief ability. Also great anti-anxiety and antidepressant. Limonene is also ideal for treating toenail fungus due to its ability to permeate proteins. It can be identified by its strong citrus odor and bitter taste. Furthermore, Limonene is one of the two major components formed from alpha-pinene.
It has been used for thousands of years a sleep aid. Can be naturally found in lavender, coriander, and rosewood. It has been used for the treatment of both psychosis and anxiety. Its essence is a natural deterrent for fruit flies, fleas, and cockroaches.
Alright, Now What?
This may seem like an endless well of information, but it’s just a starting guide to framing your cannabis needs around something more relevant than THC percentage points. In closing, I would like to leave you all with some food for thought. Imagine a day when we use the terpene information that we know about cannabis to compliment the decisions we make in regards to our other consumable goods.
For example, farmers could use decomposing lavender in their indica compost piles, or patients who suffer from asthma could consume a little bit of Durban Poison in the morning to clear their airways. There are countless opportunities to use the information that we know about terpenoids to improve not only our purchasing decisions but also our experience as consumers.
More Terpene Resources: