What Are Cannabis Terpenes, and What Do They Do?

What Cannibis Terpenes Do

The cannabis plant has an intoxicating and dominant scent and demands attention when you encounter it. The molecules that give cannabis its aroma do more than just make it smell good, however. The aroma molecules in the terpenes can work together with the other components in the plant, including THC, which can make you feel high. These chemicals can trigger the entourage effect, which enhances the effects of the individual components. You will have a unique experience that is determined by which terpenes and cannabinoids are in your strain and their quantities. 

About Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes aren’t limited to just the marijuana plant. For example, if you smell a glass of wine or like the scent of certain herbs, you are enjoying terpenes. In fact, terpenes are what you are smelling when you smell essential oils. Terpenes are one of the biggest families of organic components in the world.

When it comes to the cannabis plant, these molecules are made in the plant’s trichomes. These are sticky glands that produce oil. Trichomes give the plant its crystal-like appearance. They also have THC in them. Although terpenes influence the aroma of the plant, THC and other cannabinoids do not. 

Terpenes make up around 10 to 20 percent of the volume of the resin in the flowers. There are more than 20,000 kinds of terpenes in nature, and around 200 of those are in the cannabis plant. The molecules can be combined in many different ways so that there are plants with unique effects and chemical properties. The terpene profile is part of what gives each strain of marijuana a unique personality. 

What The Terpenes Do

What the Terpenes Do

There is a reason that strains like Banana Candy smell so different than ones like OG Kush. The molecules work with each other and with THC and the other cannabinoids to give each strain a different chemical fingerprint that helps differentiate plants from each other.

This might be why some strains might put you to sleep, while others make you feel ready to go hang out with all of your friends. Generally, plants produce varying physiological effects when you consume them. These distinctions can even be seen genetically. Because of genetic sequencing, the individual cannabis plants are more sophisticated than what someone might initially think.

Because of the many genes that are responsible for making the terpenes in the plant, cannabis likely has an aromatic complexity similar to wine, which comes in many fragrances and flavours. 

You can think of terpenes as the plant’s immune system. It can produce some terpenes that ward off infection and predators. For example, plants that have bitter terpenes that herbivores find unappealing can be found in many low leaves and branches. On the other hand, flowering plants often have sweet terpenes that can attract pollinators. The ability to make certain terpenes might be inherited. The offspring of a plant that was attacked by a pest early on might make a certain terpene.

How Do People Use Terpenes Medicinally?

Some people believe that terpenes have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. They may also have antioxidants in them and protect the cells from damage related to stress. That can make sense because these are some of the same components that might protect the plant from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. 

Some people believe that the terpenes have the same potential medicinal value that CBD and THC does. One study suggested that the terpene pinene might help with treating viral and bacterial infections. Another terpene, limonene, might have both anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Some people who have depression use this terpene to try to alleviate their symptoms. 

How They May Affect the Human Body

When you come across terpenes, you first experience them with your respiratory system and your nose. When you inhale them, the terpenes move up your nose and trigger the olfactory nerves. These send signals to your brain, although this is not the only organ that responds to the molecules. In fact, the molecules may trigger responses throughout your body. 

The olfactory receptors can also be found in other tissue in your body. These receptors, which might respond to the plant terpenes, can be found in your kidneys, lungs, heart, and skin. Some researchers believe that fragrance molecules may help to dilate the blood vessels in your lungs. The molecules may produce a reaction that is strong enough to reduce the effects of inflammation in patients suffering from asthma. 

Other researchers have found that walking through a forest with pine terpenes in the air may help to boost your immune function while reducing stress on your nervous system. This means that the terpenes do more for your body than just smell nice. Because some medical cannabis users believe that the terpenes have such a big effect on the body, they choose to use the entire plant to try to get as many terpenes in their system as possible. 

Common Terpenes In Marijuana

Common Terpenes in Marijuana 

While each strain has a different composition of terpenes, some terpenes are more commonly found than others. 


The terpene Beta-Caryophyllene (BCP) is a common terpene in the plant. In fact, when drug-sniffing dogs are looking for marijuana, they are trained to look for this component. However, you can also find it in black pepper, and it can give a spicy and sweet kick to the spice.

There is more to this terpene than just a spicy scent, however. It might also be a cannabinoid, like THC. However, it will not make you high. Some people believe that it may engage the cannabinoid receptors that you can find on the immune cells. However, BCP may also engage with the receptors. Because of this, some people use it to try to relieve inflammation or even depression and anxiety.


This is a muskier terpene that you can find in hops and lemongrass. It can be calming, and you can find it in indica strains, such as Hindu Kush. It might help relax your muscles and have hypnotic properties. Some people even believe that this is what causes the difference between sativa and indica strains


You can find the sweet terpene linalool in the lavender plant, and it can help you to stay calmer. It is so relaxing that many people use it to try to relieve stress and anxiety instead of using prescription antianxiety medications. Others use it to try to relieve pain and inflammation.

The Granddaddy Purple and Lavender strains both have high amounts of linalool in them. However, these are not tranquillizing strains. They can make you feel calmer, but you will most likely not feel too sedated after using them. 


This terpene is uplifting and bright, and you can find limonene in many kinds of citrus fruits. When it comes to cannabis, you can find it in the OG Kush, Super Sour Diesel, and Lemon Skunk strains. It may help with inflammation, and it can also be therapeutic for some people. It may help fight cancer cells, and it also might help people who are suffering from depression. 



If you have had beer before, then this terpene is the reason that it tastes woody and bitter at times. You can find it in strains such as Girl Scout Cookies and Chemdawg, but it is most commonly found in sage plants and hops. 

Although it has a recreational reputation, it may also help those who are suffering from certain medical problems. Some people use it to try to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, which is closely linked to pain. When you combine it with CBD and THC, humulene may help amplify the effects of the therapeutic components. No matter how you choose to use it, it can have uplifting and calming effects when you choose strains dominant in humulene.


This is an extremely common terpene, and it can be just as relaxing as an evergreen forest and pine needles. It has a sharp, pine-like aroma to it. Because of how abundant this terpene is, you most likely interact with it on a daily basis, even if you do not realize it. It is the opposite of myrcene when it comes to energy levels. 

Many marijuana terpenes can make you feel sedated, but this one will make you want to get up and do something. It can be calm, uplifting, and focused, and it might lift your spirits and help you to concentrate. You can find it in strains such as Trainwreck, Jack Herer, and Blue Dream. Some users believe that they can breathe a little bit better after using a strain that has this component in it. Pinene may have bronchodilatory effects, which means that it might help reduce inflammation in your lungs. It might also help reduce the memory impairment effects of THC. 


If you want to try to feel calm and relaxed, this is a terpene to try out. It has a light sweetness and can be found in strains such as Jack Herer. It has a woody scent, and you can also find it in pine trees and apples. Most of the flowers you can find it in are sativa ones that help you be energetic. Some researchers believe terpinolene can help fight cancer.


You can often find terpineol in lilac, and it is a very focused terpene. You might find it an easygoing strain, such as White Widow or Skywalker OG. Like some other terpenes, it may help fight cancer. It may also help with inflammation and pain, which is a common effect among many of the terpenes that you can find in the cannabis plant


If you have ever had a cup of chamomile tea, you most likely know that it can be calming. This is because the chamomile flower has the terpene called bisabolol. This terpene is easygoing and mellow, and it has a floral scent to it. You can find it in strains such as ACDC, Master Kush, and Rockstar. 

Even though it is not as calming as some of the strains that you can find, it might be good to use if you have trouble going to sleep. Some people use it to try to ease inflammation and reduce their chances of developing cancer. Researchers believe that it may have antibiotic potential. 



This terpene is sweet and has a bit of citrus and umami in it. It can be found in Haze strains, such as Super Silver Haze, and it can be sedative and slow. The strains in this family are often considered to be sativa strains, but those that have more Delta-3-Carene in them might be best if you want to have a more relaxed mind. Some people use it to try to help repair their bones after an injury. 


This terpene has an aroma similar to balsamic, and it is a rare terpene. Plant extracts that have a lot of this compound have been used for many years in Chinese medicine. Borneol may have anti-cancer properties. In the past, extracts with this terpene were used to try to relieve digestive issues, coughs, and pain. Some researchers believe that it might help to relax your lungs’ blood vessels and help with your respiratory system. You can find this in Amnesia Haze and other sativa strains.


This terpene is also known as eucalyptol, and it has a spicy, minty aroma. It is a commonly used essential oil, and it may improve your attention, cognitive performance, and memory. Cineole may also help to reduce inflammation and open up your airways. You can find it in rosemary. Some cannabis strains have a lot of this molecule in them, such as Headband.

Closing Thoughts

With so many terpenes out there, it can be hard to find the right cannabis strain for you. If you are a medical user, looking at the potential effects can help you decide on the right strain to use. If you are a recreational user, consider what you want to get out of your smoking experience when looking at the terpene profile of strains you might want to try. 

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