Guide to Strains

Whether you’re a medical marijuana patient or a recreational user, there are many, many different effects of cannabis:

  • Sedation
  • Alertness
  • Anxiety Relief
  • Stress Relief
  • Pain Relief
  • Insomnia Relief
  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-seizure
  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Elevated Mood
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Much more!

So you just picked up a few grams of Blue Dream, and you’re wondering what effects Blue Dream offers compared to the Sour Diesel you just finished? Well there are a lot of ways they could differ, but the first thing you have to do in figuring this out is to throw away the strain names entirely. Strain names are only a distraction!

In the 1950s and 1960s cannabis growers went through great effort to optimize the THC levels of the cannabis, and they were extremely effective. THC contents rose from just a few percents to upwards of 25-30% THC in some strains today. Not only does this make cannabis more potent and recreational, it also makes it healthier by decreasing the amount of plant matter you need to smoke to achieve the same psychoactive effects. These growers deserve some serious respect for their monumental achievement which changed cannabis culture forever.


Although THC levels can’t really get a whole lot higher, cannabis breeders do much the same thing today, but mostly for winning awards, such as the coveted cannabis cup, or to isolate specific cannabinoids, such as CBD. Unfortunately, that Blue Dream you just bought most likely didn’t come from a cannabis cup winning breeder, but rather probably came from one of many growers who supplies your cannabis dispensary. If you’re lucky, that grower bought the Blue Dream seeds from a quality seed company which has legitimate Blue Dream genetics, in which case, there’s a chance that you received real Blue Dream. However, they could’ve bought the seeds from a seed company who mixed up seeds, or has different genetics that they just call “Blue Dream” to sell seeds. They also could’ve bought clones from someone who was certain that they were Blue Dream clones, but they could’ve had the same issues with seed companies, could’ve mixed up their clones, or could be lying altogether. Additionally, the grower could have mixed up their plants when they were growing, grown a plant that is only half blue dream, or might be lying about the strain outright. Even dispensaries are known to rename the bud they buy from growers to increase sales, otherwise you’d see certain growers trying to brand their cannabis. Clearly, there are just too many ways for strains to get mixed up, renamed, or lied about for names alone to be a reliable way of determining the effects of your cannabis.


So what can you trust?


If you’re looking to judge the effects of your cannabis and you want more to rely on something besides the strain name, there are other ways to see the differences. While it’s true that varying levels of different cannabinoids, such as CBN, CBD, THCV, CBC, and CBL can be indicative of a strain’s effects, you can’t do much to decipher the various cannabinoid contents without lab testing. If you’ve been judging the differences in strains for awhile, you’ve likely compared things like color, density, taste, and most importantly, smell. Comparing these features are the most reliable way to see the differences between strains. Organic compounds known as terpenes are what make up the unique smells and tastes of different strains of cannabis, and understanding these terpenes will elevate your understanding and appreciation of cannabis to a whole new level. Terpenes are produced by a wide variety of plants and make up a major component of resin, or trichomes in the case of cannabis. There are hundreds of varieties of terpenes in cannabis, however there are about thirty that are regularly tested for, five of which are the most common. Much like a sommelier does with wine, an “interpener” interprets the different smells, or terpenes in cannabis. The biggest difference is that with wine, the alcohol is what affects you, so the smells have no real effects. Alternatively, the terpenes in cannabis play a significant role in the effects it has on you. If you’re a cannabis patient, a cannabis patient’s parent, or just a cannabis enthusiast, there are plenty of reasons to learn more about interpening, starting with the five most common terpenes:




Linalool is a very well known terpene, best known for its aroma, which is best known from the lavender plant. Lavender is used often in aromatherapy to invoke a calming and sedating effect. It has also been used for many years as an effective all-natural sleep aid, as well as a precursor in the formation of Vitamin E. Small amounts of linalool are found in many plants besides lavender, including mints, laurels, rosewood, citrus plants, and even some fungi.

Linalool is very effective in tandem with cannabis, as its anxiolytic properties help ease much of the anxiety that many patients experience when using cannabis. Additionally, a study by the Chinese Harbin Medical University Cancer Hospital has shown that linalool may significantly reduce lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke, which is likely applicable to lung inflammation caused by cannabis smoke as well.

Linalool also boosts the immune system by directly influencing immune system pathways. It has even been shown effective at restoring cognitive and emotional functions brought on by Alzheimer’s Disease through its anti-inflammatory effects. Linalool has been approved by the EPA for use as an all-natural pesticide, flavor agent, and scent. You can find linalool in a large array of bath and body products (like this one) listed in the ingredients as “beta linalool”, “linalyl alcohol”, “linaloyl oxide”, “p-linalool”, and “alloocimenol.”



Myrcene is the most common terpene in cannabis. You typically find higher concentrations in Cannabis Indica, which is what helps to create that well-known “couch-lock” effect that is often associated with Indica strains. The aroma it creates is skunky, musky, earthy, and can resemble cloves. Besides cannabis, myrcene can be found in eucalyptus, mangoes, lemongrass, thyme, citrus fruits, hops, among others.

The most important functional aspect of myrcene is its ability to lubricate the blood-brain barrier, allowing many chemicals to pass through easier, most notably THC and other cannabinoids. As a result, cannabis with a higher THC content but lower myrcene can be less effective since that THC isn’t able to cross the blood-brain barrier as easily. This also allows the effects of cannabinoids to set in quicker. Myrcene also has a remarkable ability to increase the maximum psychoactive effects of cannabis by increasing the maximum saturation of activity on cannabinoid (CB1) receptors.

Myrcene alone has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and antimutagenic properties, as well as providing sedation, relaxation, and pain relief. A study published in Elsevier showed that myrcene, particularly beta-myrcene, an isomer of myrcene also found commonly in cannabis, had important anti-ulcer properties when administered alone, completely independent of cannabis, which just goes to show you exactly how effective these terpenes can be on their own.




In case you haven’t already guess based on its name, Pinene carries the aroma of pine needles. It’s the most common terpene found in nature, and one of the most common in cannabis. It’s found mostly in pine trees, but can also be found in rosemary, basil, parsley, and dill. Pinene has a tendency to react with a variety of chemicals, including other terpenes, making it important to both plants and animals.

In cannabis, pinene is typically associated with alertness and increased memory retention (contrary to the short term memory loss usually associated with cannabis). It has even been claimed that it has the ability to actually counteract the effects of THC, making it useful for patients who need the medical benefits of cannabis, but prefer less of the high. Pinene alone is used as an anti-inflammatory and local antiseptic. The alpha-pinene isomer has even been isolated from pine needle oil for its cancer fighting abilities.




Much like pinene, limonene’s aroma can be derived from its name, meaning it carries a citrus aroma. Limonene is one of the terpenes that is commonly formed by the very reactive pinene terpene as discussed above. Cannabis Sativa tends to have higher concentrations of limonene, which generally provides mood lifting and stress relieving effects. Limonene can also be found in citrus fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, peppermint, and parts of pine needle oil extracts.

Limonene is absorbed well by inhalation, making it suit the ingestion of cannabis very well. Much like all things absorbed via inhalation, it’s absorbed quickly, and much like myrcene, it aids in the absorbtion of other terpenes, but all throughout the body rather than just in the brain. Limonene alone has been proven to suppress the growth of fungi and bacteria. It has also been used for protecting against various cancers, and even used to promote weight loss. Additionally, limonene can be used as an organic insecticide and overall anti-pest agent, as most predators and insects try to avoid it. It’s also the main active ingredient of citrus cleaners.




Caryophyllene is known for its peppery, spicy, and woody aroma. It’s found all over the plant kingdom, including in black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, Thai basil, and cotton.

The most useful aspect of caryophyllene is its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid (CB2) receptors, and it’s the only terpene known to do so. It was shown to be an effective, non-psychoactive CB2 agonist, which means its effects are similar to cannabinoids like CBD, particularly for pain relief and the immune system. It also shows great promise for its use in preventing kidney damage caused by chemotherapy drugs such as Cisplatin. It has also been shown to be an effective pain reliever, gastroprotective as well as anti-inflammatory substance. Additionally, it has been used effectively by those with weakened immune systems, and it’s non-psychoactive effects make it especially appealing for patients who don’t want the high that comes from THC.


Want to learn more about interpening?

Trichome institute is the first institution that has begun offering both online and in-person classes on interpening. They offer various levels of certification which could be very useful if you plan on pursuing a job in the cannabis industry. You could get a budtender certification so you can accurately assist customers in finding the right cannabis for them, or you could get a responsible vendor certification, where you’ll learn about all the good and bad features to look for when buying cannabis, which is very useful if you plan on running a dispensary. If you’re like us you could also just be a cannabis enthusiast or patient who wants to learn as much about their medicine as possible. Click here for more information about Trichome Institute classes and products. If you do decide to buy classes or products at Trichome Instute, we’ll receive a commission if you used our link. We wouldn’t recommend Trichome Institute unless we thought the information was truly valuable.