What are Cannabis Terpenes and What do They Do?

Cannabis’ distinctive musky, skunky, and pungent aroma is unmistakable: most people can detect it even before seeing it. Terpenes, the fragrant chemicals found in many flowers and plants that contribute to the scent of cannabis, give it its unique odor and flavor.

Sabinene: While not one of the most frequent cannabis terpenes, this strain has a distinct peppery or spicy scent. Many persons claim it smells like pumpkin pie or reminds them of Christmas festivities. Although this terpene should be used in modest amounts, its medicinal applications include anti-infection and antioxidant effects. Super Silver Haze is one of the major strains in which it occurs.

Cannabis has over 150 different types of terpenes. Although the majority of terpenes are present in minor amounts, the more significant ones work together to provide distinct cannabis strains their unique aroma profiles. Terpene combinations in Sour Diesel indicate its pungent, gas-inducing character, while Cherry Pie smells like sweet and sour cherry pie just out of the oven.

Terpenes also play diverse roles in the plant, and when cannabis is consumed, they may produce a variety of therapeutic and mood-altering benefits.

Where do Terpenes Come From?

Terpenes are organic compounds produced by trichomes on the epidermis of cannabis plants. Trichomes are sticky, translucent glands that cover the surface of buds and, in smaller amounts, leaves and stems. Terpenes are contained within trichomes.

Terpenes play a critical role in the growth and survival of a cannabis plant. Apart from giving off distinct fragrances, these organic compounds also enhance color and pigmentation in leaves and buds as well as contribute to the taste of cannabis. In conclusion, terpenes aid in the attractiveness of some species to predators while keeping away harmful animals.

Terpenes such as geraniol repel insects and herbivores that may be tempted to eat cannabis. Other terpenes, like terpinolene and linalool, attract insects and other tiny creatures that can aid in the pollination process. These odorous compounds support plant immunity by communicating information about the surrounding environment, protecting plants from stresses and diseases while assisting in immune response activation.

The quantity of terpenes a cannabis plant releases is determined by several variables. Light, temperature, specific growing media, nutrient levels, and the time of harvesting all have an impact on terpene levels.

Many terpenes are volatile chemicals, which means they may be lost during typical cannabis extraction procedures. However, with increased awareness of the therapeutic value of terpenes, more sensitive extraction processes such as live resin are becoming available.

Fresh frozen cannabis plants are used to make new resin, which maintains the freezing temperature throughout the extraction process and protects terpenes and other volatile chemicals in the plant, resulting in a more aromatically complex and flavorful cannabis experience.

How doTerpenes Affect the Body?

The knowledge of terpene fragrance is not new. Humans have utilized the vivid aromas associated with terpenes for millennia to produce fragrant oils for use in such treatments as aromatherapy.

Anyone who has used lavender oil, which contains linalool, behind their ears understands how it can help them relax. Terpenes in particular cannabis strains may have an impact as well.

However, the effects of terpenes appear to go well beyond feelings of pleasure and stress relief. Terpenes have also been found to be a new front in cannabis medicine. Up until rather recently, the attention has been primarily on the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, but as our knowledge of terpenes increases more sophisticated, it’s becoming apparent that these fragrant compounds are medicinal superpowers in their own right.

Terpenes are a type of organic compound that is found in many plants. Terpenes have unique combinations of therapeutic effects, as is the case with all terpenes. Unsurprisingly, some of the effects terpenes have on people are evocative of their function in cannabis and other plants: they assist to combat unwanted organisms and infections.

The Medicinal Benefits of Terpenes

Terpenes have shown some promise in preclinical and in vitro animal studies, as well as in test tube studies. Terpene research, on the other hand, is still relatively new; it has not been widely studied on humans. To establish a firm understanding of these chemicals, further study is required.


Antivirals are always being sought after by researchers. Many terpenes, such as alpha- and beta-pinene, caryophyllene, camphor, and carvone, have the potential to aid in the viral destruction process.


The search for compounds that can assist in suppressing cancer is being fueled by rising rates of many types of the disease. Some terpenes, including those found in cannabis, have been shown to have anticancer properties, inhibiting the activity or growth of cancer cells.

Limonene, like other terpenes such as pinene, camphor, terpinene, and beta-myrcene, might be a more effective anticancer and antitumor agent than many researchers had previously considered. Other terpenes include alpha-terpineol, guaiol, cineole, cineole(1), guaiazulene (2), phellandrene.  -> Limonene may be a more effective anti-cancer and antitumor agent than previously thought; along with other terpenes such as alpha-terpineol, guaiocinolo (3), guaiolo (4). Phellandrene is another one of the most powerful known cannabinoids in


Terpenes are present in 25% of antidepressant medications, which include herbal extracts. Linalool and beta-pinene are prominent components of a variety of plant extracts used in antidepressants.


Terpenes may have antibacterial properties, which is why they’re considered essential components of cannabis. Terpenes that can assist in the destruction or prevention of microorganisms include alpha-bisabolol, geraniol, menthol, eucalyptol, and terpinene.

Pain relief

Some cannabis terpenes may have pain-relieving qualities, according to studies. By producing a pain-reducing effect, some cannabis terpenes may mimic cannabinoids. In one study that combined terpenes with cannabinoids in 2021, the pain-relieving effects were amplified while the harmful side effects remained unchanged. This interaction might be evidence of the entourage effect (more below).

Humulene, geraniol, linalool, and β-pinene are some of the terpenes that may aid in pain relief. These compounds activate the CB1 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, which control pain sensation.

How can Terpenes Contribute to the Effects of Cannabis?

According to emerging evidence, all plant components in cannabis operate together synergistically – this is known as the entourage effect and may be likened to: The sum of all parts is greater than the whole of its parts. In other words, when cannabinoids and terpenes are consumed together rather than individually, a unique whole-plant synergy emerges.

Terpenes, for example, appear to have an impact on how THC and CBD function in the body. In a research published in 2018 on epilepsy patients, those who took full-spectrum CBD extract—which included cannabinoids and terpenes—had better symptoms and fewer negative effects than those who took CBD isolate, which only contained cannabinoids. Full-spectrum cannabis extract is made from the whole plant rather than just the cannabinoids, as is true with CBD isolate.

The scientists also discovered that full-spectrum CBD extract was four times more effective than CBD isolate, suggesting patients may take considerably less of it. This is due to the therapeutic synergy of cannabinoids and other chemicals, such as terpenes.

Terpenes have been shown in recent studies to enhance cannabinoid activity, but high concentrations of terpenes were required for this effect to be seen.

We’re still in the early stages of understanding terpenes and how they interact with other terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids in cannabis. Furthermore, the majority of our research is conducted on animals or test tubes.

Despite this, the scientific study of aromatic chemicals is yielding some intriguing discoveries. It’s probable that in the future, researchers will master terpenes better and learn how they function both individually and together.

The Top Three Terpenes Found in Cannabis

Lilacs, nutmeg, cumin, and apples are rich sources of terpinolene.

As previously said, cannabis contains a mind-boggling number of terpenes—more than 150 distinct varieties—with many of them being present in quantities too low to detect. While many of these are undetectable, some have a considerably stronger presence.

The three most common terpenes in cannabis are explained here.


The majority of cannabis cultivars have a distinct terpene profile, with myrcene or caryophyllene being the most abundant. Herbaceous, spicy, earthy, and musky are some of the scent notes attributed to myrcene. It has an unpleasant flavor profile that includes mangoes.

Myrcene produces anti-inflammatory effects, in addition to contributing to the distinctive cannabis aroma. Myrcene may have anti-inflammatory qualities, according on a 2015 study conducted in cultured cells.

Myrcene appears to help with the maintenance and repair of cartilage cells, minimize the development of osteoarthritis symptoms, and decrease the number of inflammatory cells produced by the body. Myrcene may be utilized in the near future to treat anti-inflammatory problems and their signs.


Caryophyllene, often known as beta-caryophyllene or β-caryophyllene, is a strong and pungent terpene that gives some cannabis strains a spicy, peppery flavor. Caryophyllene can also be found in cloves, rosemary, oregano, and black pepper among other plants. If you detect any of these odors when smelling a certain marijuana souche, caryophyllene is probably present.

Caryophyllene is the only known cannabis terpene that binds to the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system, which is present in the body’s immune system. Because of this distinct mode of action, caryophyllene is sometimes referred to as an atypical cannabinoid.

Caryophyllene is a compound that has been studied and shown to aid with various illnesses, including inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cerebral ischemia, anxiety and depression, liver fibrosis, and Alzheimer-like diseases.

According to previous studies, caryophyllene’s activity at the CB2 receptor may be utilized to help treat diseases that are accompanied by inflammatory symptoms in the future.


Limonene is a citrus-y, clean scent with hints of uplifting lemon. The aroma of limonene is well-known, as it comes from the rinds of citrus fruits and ginger. Limonene is abundant in many cannabis cultivars that have a fruitier, fresher scent, such as Papaya Punch or Black Cherry Soda, and the terpene is also present in many cannabis strains.

Limonene has been shown to modify the behavior of immunological cells in the body, which may help prevent a variety of illnesses. Limonene aided to enhance antibody-producing cells in the spleen and bone marrow, which are utilized by the immune system to identify and destroy pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

Limonene has also been suggested to have an exclusive therapeutic profile that may be beneficial in the treatment of Covid-19.

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