What Are Terpenes?

Cannabis strains range in names, but more importantly, they range in aroma and flavors. Terpenes in cannabis are chemical compounds that affect the aroma, flavor, and effects of a strain or cannabis product. With over 140 different terpenes found in the cannabis plant, there’s a seemingly endless combination of aromatic terpenes that exist. The terpene profile of strains has synergistic effects with other compounds found in cannabis strains.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are aromatic chemical compounds found all over the plant kingdom, including the trichomes of the cannabis flower, leaves, and stems. These resinous hairs are primarily found on cannabis flower. Trichomes are resinous hairs that produce therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can provide relief for pain, inflammation, stress, and more. Many strains get their name from their pungent smell like Sour Diesel or Lemon Haze strains.

The distinctive smell of terpenes can range from diesel scents to floral and fruity aromas, depending on the genetics of the marijuana strain. Plants create terpenes to either ward of predators or attract pollinators. Apart from genetics, terpene composition is affected by growing conditions like climate, soil, and other environmental factors. The specific terpenes in each strain affect the way cannabinoids interact with the body.

Specific Types Of Terpenes And Their Effects

Much of the research on terpenes has focused on isolated terpenes, rather than their interactions with other chemical compounds in cannabis. Every terpene has a different boiling point. Most terpenes will burn away when combusted through smoking or high-temperature dabs. Vaporization technology has enabled users to use lower temperatures to vaporize and retain as many terpenes and aromas as possible for the user.


Terpenes work positively to improve depression, anxiety, pain, inflammation, epilepsy, and bacterial infections. Here are a few of the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis.


Recognized by its strong piney scent, alpha-pinene is commonly found in rosemary and sage. Isolated pinene has been shown to contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It’s also helped curb short-term memory loss and improve airflow in lungs.


Earthy, herbal, and clove-like scents dominate myrcene. Myrcene is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis. Myrcene has been known to improve chronic pain and inflammation, as well as increasing THC absorption.


Limonene is the second-most commonly found terpene in nature in fruits like oranges and lemons. With a pungent citrus scent, limonene has helped patients reduce anxiety and bronchitis, as well as boost the immune system. Studies have even shown it can reduce the spread of cancer cells.


Found in rosemary, black pepper, basil, and more, beta-caryophyllene has shown it can help treat depression, anxiety, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Research also indicates that beta-caryophyllene can protect the digestive system and reduce pain for multiple conditions.

Terpenes offer a unique bouquet of scents that range from skunky and pungent to tropical and sweet. Cannabis strains will differ in cannabinoid and terpene content. Labs can chemically analyze strains and products to determine which terpenes are present. Although terpenes can enhance a cannabis experience, there is still more research needed to determine how certain groups of terpenes and cannabinoids work together.

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