Cannabis’s strains have varied widely around the world. But strains like Northern Lights, OG Kush, and Purple Haze has been well-known due to their distinguishing flavors. Now (finally), here’s a recent study that was able to find how this amazing plant had these different tastes.
“The goal is to develop well-defined and highly-reproducible cannabis varieties. This is similar to the wine industry, which depends on defined varieties such as chardonnay or merlot for high value products,” said Jörg Bohlmann, a professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories, faculty of forestry at UBC, and a consultant and adviser to CannaRoyalty Corp in Canada. “Our genomics work can inform breeders of commercial varieties which genes to pay attention to for specific flavour qualities.”
Well, it all boils down to terpenes. The researchers found a total of 33 terpene synthase genes that contribute to diverse flavours in cannabis. Such number is comparable to genes that play a similar role in different wine flavors. These genes, the researchers discovered, help produce natural products like limonene, myrcene, and pinene, in the plants. “The limonene compound (for example) produces a lemon-like flavour and myrcene produces the dank, earthy flavour characteristic of purple kush,” said Booth.
They even found a gene that produces beta-caryophyllene, a terpene which interacts with cannabinoid receptors that has anti-inflammatory effects in human cells. It is commonly ingested with vegetable food and an estimated daily intake of this could be a dietary factor, along with other active ingredients in cannabis. Basically, this causes the medical benefits of cannabis without the high.
Bohlmann pointed out that the economic potential of a legal, regulated industry is huge, but a current challenge is that some growers are working with plants that are not standardized. “There is a need for high-quality and consistent products made from well defined varieties.” he said. Researchers also say it is important to further examine to what extent these terpenes might interact with the cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Nonetheless, it’s good to hear that amidst the controversy in legalization, the research on this plant is still getting better and better in time. This important step for the legal cannabis industry can now give us a better chance of tasting and enjoying its benefits.