Terpenes, and their effects
One of the worst pieces of miseducation placating the cannabis industry right now is the believe that taste, smell, and terpenes are synonymous. It is very common for those describing the organaleptic qualities of the plant, taste and smell, to use the term terps or terpenes. For instance, "this Chem D has gassy terps". I have read many terpene tests and never have I seen the work gassy appear. Nor have I seen fuel, blueberry, cake, or lemon show up anywhere on the report.
Yes, terpenes do influence organaleptic qualities in cannabis, but so do many other compounds. To blanket the whole picture with this has "X" terps is quite a disservice. Furthermore the terpenes do have a large influence over another aspect of cannabis, the effect.
Through research into the effects of different cultivars and exapmination of their terpene reports, I have observed a similarity in the effects of different strains that fall into the same or similar groupings. For instance I have felt an increase in inner monolgue, restlessness, and paranoia from plants high in limonene (pronounced lime-o-neen). The higher the THC content accompanying the presence of limonene the worse the perceived effects are. A more clear headed and non paranoid effect from those dominant in pinene.
Interestingly, myrcene dominance has effect pattern all across the spectrum, from very clear headed and lively tangerine strains to extremely relaxing and sedative kush genetics, so it is obvious there is more at play here.
If I use an analogy where your effect is like a car, the thought is that the THC is like the fuel. It can make you go slow or fast. The terpenes are like the steering wheel, gas pedal, and gear box. They control how the THC is used and all the subtle nuances and variances of the feeling cannabis imparts. This is obviously an over simplification of the complex processes taking place in your endocannabinoid system, but hopefully it coveys the point.
Much of this research was done in the early days of lab testing where it was not mandatory. At that time many labs where willing to share data as a means of transparency. It was easy to find clone only strains grown by many different farmers and compare their effects. One could also easily find these cuts, grow them out yourself, have it tested and compare the effects to the tests.
I personally opted in to lab testing early because I wanted my own data as well to see how changes in growing conditions would effect phytocannabinoid and terpene production.
The other interesting observation was how the terpenes would manifest in groups and reoccur in subsequent generations. It is very common to see grandparent profiles show up in hybrids.
For example I bred our Boss Frost cut which has a solo dominance in alpha-Pinene into a cut of Ghosttrain Haze selected from seed which were all terpinolene dominant plants. The goal was to get a offspring with a co-domiant profile consisting of equal shares of pinene and terpinolene. This would be considered rare or unheard of.
When the progeny were tested I learned how stupid my approach was. The progeny split into 2 different groups, terpinolene dominant, or co dominance of limonene and myrcene.
The pollen donor Boss Frost was not repesented at all. No pinene dominant plants were observed. The limonene/myrcene profile is the same as the Ghost Og, which was used to make Ghosttrain Haze. It did not show up in any of the Ghosttrain Haze seedlings, but now had reappeared in the next generation.
I later learned from Alec Dixon of SC Labs that of 10,000 terpene tests they had anaylzed, 95% of those tests fell into 3 categories. The info from Alec appears below with the addition of the 4th group based on what we have observed and assumption.
Group 1 The Indica Group
1.1 Myrcene dominant
1.2 Myrcene, beta-Caryophellene, alpha Pinene (fuel group)
1.7 Myrcene/ alpha Pinene
Group 2 The Hybrid Group
2.2 Limonene, Myrcene, beta-Caryophellene (also fuel group, in our opinion)
2.4 beta-Caryophellene dominant
2.6 Limonene dominant
Group 3 The Sativa Group
3.1 Terpinolene, Myrcene
3.2 Terpinolene, beta-Caryophellene
3.3 Terpinolene dominant
3.8 Terpinolene, Ocimene
Group 4 The Outlier Group (the other 5%)
--- Pinene dominant
--- Ocimene dominant
When we breed our strains for specific profile or chemotypes we work within this framework to achieve a greater return on our goals. Many breeders like to cross elite clone only plants with one another or with a male plant from the new "IT" strain. As we have witnessed for many years that tends to promote heterogeneity in the offspring. If the goal is to represent the mother or father plant more consistently, teaming with terpenes and exploiting their natural tendency towards grouping together is a much better way to ensure success. This has been the crux of Curiosity Shop's breeding program and is how we have and will continue to curate our menu. Finding the best representations from each group ensures diversity in effect, and less repeating of similar plants on the menu.