Terpenes are the aromatic hydrocarbons secreted within the resinous glands in all
These oils are responsible for the scent and in some cases the distinct flavors of a plant.
Scientists have discovered over 100 natural terpenes.
When it comes to cannabis, in addition to providing natural taste and smell, terpenes
band together with cannabinoids to amplify the effects of the endocannabinoid system
(link). This synergistic relationship between terpenes and cannabinoids is called the
entourage effect (link).
Here’s a list of the 11 most prevalent cannabis terpenes:
1. α Pinene
α Pinene accounts for cannabis’ familiar odor, often associated with pine trees and
turpentine. α Pinene is the most common naturally occurring terpenoid and acts as
both an anti-inflammatory and a bronchodilator.
Myrcene is the most prevalent terpene in cannabis. Myrcene concentration dictates
whether a strain will have an Indica or Sativa effect. Strains containing over 0.5% of
myrcene produce a more sedative high, while strains containing less than 0.5%
myrcene have an energizing effect.
Ocimene is frequently used in perfumes for its pleasant odor. In nature, this terpene
contributes to a plant’s defenses and possess antifungal properties.
Terpineol is known for its pleasant smell and is often used in soaps and perfumes. It
is known to have relaxing effects.
1. β Caryophyllene
β Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the body’s
endocannabinoid system (CB2). It produces anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
Best paired with full spectrum hemp oil (link).
α Humulene contributes to the “hoppy” aroma of cannabis. This terpene acts as an
appetite suppressant and exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activity.
Linalool has a floral scent reminiscent of spring flowers, but with spicy overtones. It
possesses sedative properties and is an effective anxiety and stress reliever. It has
also been used an analgesic and anti-epileptic.
Limonene is a dominant terpene in strains with a pronounced Sativa effect. It is also
found in the rinds of citrus fruits. Limonene aids in the absorption of other terpenes
through the skin and mucous membranes, and has been used to treat anxiety and
Terpinolene has been shown to exhibit antioxidant and anticancer effects in rat brain
cells. Studies with mice show that terpinolene has a sedative effect when inhaled.
Valencene is present in Valencia oranges and contributes to cannabis’ citrus aroma.
Also present in geraniums, geraniol emits a rosey scent that makes it a popular
perfume additive. It is an effective mosquito repellent and shows a potential
protective effect against neuropathy.
The differences can be subtle, but terpenes can add depth to the cannabis experience.
Most importantly, terpenes may offer additional medical value as they mediate our
body’s interaction with other therapeutic plant compounds.