The cause of the ‘iconic skunky’ smell of cannabis revealed

6th December 2021

Scientists have finally discovered what causes the ‘iconic skunky’ smell of cannabis that is so distinguishable. But where does garlic come into the picture?

Even those that claim they have never used cannabis know and recognise the unmistakable cannabis smell – it is something that is just unique compared to other substances.

Now, scientists in the US may have finally found the reason behind this unique, ‘skunky’ scent.

Researchers analysed 13 different cannabis strains, and it is now reported that the unique smell comes from a family of volatile sulphur compounds (VCSs) which have not been unified in nature before.

However, these compounds closely match with those found in garlic.

The authors wrote: “Our results found that the primary compounds that contribute to this scent are a new family of volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs), with 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol correlating most strongly with the aroma of 13 cannabis cultivars.

“We then analysed three concentrated cannabis extract products to determine if VSCs are retained during the hydrocarbon extraction process.

“Indeed, we observe high concentrations of both 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol and 3-methyl-2-butenyl acetothioate, indicating that cannabis extract products can likewise have a pungent “skunky” aroma.”

Researchers ended up uncovering numerous, novel VSCs associated with the iconic smell of weed.

The compounds, known as VSC3 through VSC7, all show a similar structural organization to garlic VSCs – it is a really important finding, the authors claimed.

These compounds may have potential health benefits – including improved cardiovascular health.

The finding has prompted speculation that cannabis may possess similar health benefits.

The authors wrote: “These compounds contribute to garlic’s aroma, flavour, and possible health benefits.

“For instance, the allylic analogue of VSC3, allyl thiol, is a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, which may engender it with anticarcinogenic properties. Diallyl disulphide, which is structurally analogous to VSC7, may help protect against colorectal cancer and contribute beneficially toward cardiovascular health

“(…)The structural similarities between VSCs in cannabis and garlic thus warrant further investigation to determine if the former possess similar health benefits to those of the latter.”

Related Stories