The 7 Terpenes Found In Marijuana

What exactly is a terpene? Well, there are over 100 terpenes in the cannabis plant. These aromatic compounds give hemp and cannabis their specific smell and taste.

Terpene: The Highlights:

  • There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence and at least 100 produced by the cannabis plant.
  • Terpenes may have an inhibiting effect on THC intoxication which has the potential to make THC more therapeutically viable.
  • Different terpenes provide users with different effects.
  • Terpene is a major contributor to the “entourage effect“.
  • Vaping terpene may be the most ideal way to get it

What Does Terpene Even Mean?

If you have been using cannabis long enough (or have at least been researching it), chances are you came across the term, terpene. What does terpene even mean? What benefits do they bestow?

Terpenes (and terpenoids) are aromatic organic compounds (or essential oils) found in many plants and even some insects. They provide the taste and smell of cannabis.

The plant most commonly associated with terpenes is the cannabis plant. There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence and at least 100 produced by the cannabis plant.

Cannabis is a wonderfully complex plant containing various chemical compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes. Most people are starting to get quite familiar with THC and CBD, but they are clueless about terpenes and the significance of them.

But a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology discovered how valuable terpenes may be for our health, especially for those who wish not to get high while using medical marijuana.

The study discovered that terpenes may have an inhibiting effect on THC intoxication which has the potential to make THC more therapeutically viable.

In fact, since the early 1980s, research has been showing that terpenes work together to help cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) pass through the bloodstream easier and “lower” the blood-to-brain barrier.

This synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and other organic compounds found within the cannabis plant is known as the “entourage effect.” This effect works with your endocannabinoid system to produce positive health benefits.

Terpene And The Endocannabinoid System

Brain with focus on CB receptors

For over the past decade, remarkable research has been discovered in cannabinoid research in regards to human health. One of the biggest discoveries is the endocannabinoid system that operates within our brain.

The endocannabinoid system has been recognized as an important modulatory system in the function of the brain, endocrine, and immune tissues.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the mammalian central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system.

To put it more simply, ECS is are like the body’s natural THC.

The groundbreaking 2011 study described the way cannabinoids and terpenes work together to boost and modulate the effects of one another in the body’s ECS. This is what creates the entourage effect.

This study shines a light on the importance of terpenes (as well as CBD) and how it affects the way THC and other chemicals interact with our ECS.

Are Terpenes Similar To Terpenoids?

Yes, terpenes and terpenoids are definitely related. In fact, most people use both terms interchangeably. Both compounds are in the cannabis plant. They give the cannabis plant and the buds a diversity of aromas and distinct flavors.

The only difference between terpenes and terpenoids is that terpenes are considered organic hydrocarbons.

Terpenoids scientific formula

Terpenoids are used constantly outside of cannabis (and outside of plants) for their aromatic qualities: it’s how we create perfumes, essential oils, and spices. They occur when the cannabis plant has been cured and dried.

Meanwhile, terpenes can be considered as the natural version of terpenoids, mainly because it grows with the cannabis plant.

So you can think of terpenes as “wet”, while terpenoids are “dried out”.

Types Of Terpene Found In Cannabis

There are several types of terpene found in a cannabis plant. Here are some of the main ones:


Myrcene is known to be responsible for the stereotypical smell of cannabis.  It has a clove, musky or earthy aroma to it.

Myrcene can be found in other plants including hops, lemongrassmangoes, basil, eucalyptus, and thyme. And it is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis, as it can compose up to 50 percent of a cannabis plant’s terpenes volume.

It has been discovered that this terpene is useful as an:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • a muscle relaxer
  • a sedative

Alpha and Beta-Pinene

Another well-known terpene is alpha and beta-pinene.

Pinene is the most common terpene in the world. The alpha version of pinene smells like pine while the beta version smells like parsley, dill, and basil. This terpene has been found in pine needles, orange peels, pine needles, parsley, and basil.

This terpene has a slew of therapeutic benefits for users of it. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and anti-oxidant properties.

In addition, it has been discovered that pinene may counter short-term memory loss from THC, enhancing one’s alertness and memorization skills.


Flowers and spices like lavender and coriander contain this terpene. It also is found in mint, cinnamon, rosewood, citrus, birch trees, and laurels.

Linalool is widely known for providing users with:

  • Stress relief
  • Anti-depressant effects
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Improved immune function
  • Reduce lung inflammation when smoking cannabis

In addition, linalool helps curb the anxiety some experience when their ECS comes in contact with THC.


Lemon and orange next to weed

Plants that have a high limonene concentration usually tend to have a citrus aroma to them. It smells like lemons, oranges, mandarins, limes, and grapefruits. Perfumes and cleaning products tend to use this terpene as an ingredient due to its citrus scent.

Limonene has been shown to:

  • relieve stress
  • provide antibacterial and anti-fungal properties
  • elevate mood

Another interesting benefit of limonene is it helps absorbs other terpenes and chemicals into the skin. So it is extremely useful for tinctures, ointments, and other topicals.

Caryophyllene and Beta-Caryophyllene

This terpene is found in black pepper, cinnamon leaves, cloves, and Thai basils. It has a woody, peppery taste.

Caryophyllene has been discovered to:

  • alleviate anxiety
  • treat depression
  • act as an anti-inflammatory
  • be gastroprotective

Terpenes And The Entourage Effect

As stated earlier, the entourage effect is a synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and other organic compounds found within the cannabis plant. Terpenes are a major contributor to this effect.

Research suggests that terpenes work well with other cannabinoids like THC and CBD to boost their balancing properties, which is called the entourage effect.

The entourage effect was discovered in 1998. The researchers found that the compounds (terpenes, CBD, etc.) found in the cannabis plant worked together to create certain effects. These effects are more amplified when they work together versus being isolated.

Many researchers have been studying CBD by itself since many who want cannabis without experiencing psychoactive feelings (especially where it’s still illegal). However, the entourage effect presents a compelling reason to opt for whole plant consumption instead.

In addition, researchers have stated that CBD-only products tend to lack enough terpenes to provide health benefits to its users.

When you are exposed to cannabinoid-terpene interactions, it could produce synergy with respect to the treatment of:

  • pain
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • inflammation
  • depression
  • epilepsy
  • fungal and bacterial infections
  • cancer

In addition, cannabinoid-terpene interactions boost the beneficial effects of cannabis while reducing THC-induced anxiety.

Terpenes And Vaping

Vape pen next to jar of weed

A great way to get terpenes is vaping.

Vaping along while eating a meal lets the terpene flavors shine through without burning them off — and you can customize which terpenes you inhale by changing the temperature!

The temperature at which you vaporize becomes important for understanding what produces your desired effects. Some compounds require higher boiling points to turn into vapor, while others are ineffective at high temperatures.

Another benefit of vaping is it is gentler on your body versus smoking cannabis. Smoking produces by-products that are harmful to your lungs.

Terpene: Enhancing Your Cannabis Experience

Terpenes is super essential if one desires to use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The terpenoid profile can vary considerably from strain to strain. So if a person opts for CBD-only (or even THC-only) strains, they could be missing out on a lot of terpenes, thus missing out on experiencing the “entourage effect.”

So if you desire to maximize your cannabis experience, opt to use the whole plant to get as many terpenes as possible.

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