- Terpenes are the natural compounds of cannabis that give the plant its aroma
- They’re also able to provide certain therapeutic and medicinal benefits
- There are many different terpenes, each with its own profile and characteristics
- More than 150 different terpenes have been discovered this far
The world of cannabis almost has its own unique language, with lots of unique terms and phrases that you don’t tend to hear anywhere else, like cannabinoids, joints, Indica vs Sativa, and THC. ‘Terpenes’ is another term that you might hear when conversing with cannabis connoisseurs, but what are terpenes and what do they do?
Well, cannabis terpenes are some of the most interesting parts of the cannabis plant. They might not get the same headlines as cannabinoids like CBD and THC, but they’re still crucial components of cannabis, playing a big part in the way the plant smells and the effects that it can have on those who consume it. [Source]
In this guide, we’ll cover all you need to know about natural terpenes in cannabis. We’ll look at what marijuana terpenes are and some of the effects they can have, while also highlighting some popular examples of terpenes in marijuana that you might like to try or learn more about in the future.
In This Article
What Are Cannabis Terpenes?
In simple terms, terpenes are naturally occurring compounds that are found not only in cannabis plants but many other plants and even certain animals, too. They’re mainly responsible for producing the unique scents and flavors that we associate with different plants. Of course, when we talk about ‘cannabis terpenes’, this refers only to those that are found in cannabis plants.
How Are They Different from Cannabinoids or Flavonoids?
Cannabinoids and flavonoids are other natural parts of the cannabis plant, but what makes marijuana cannabinoids so different from these other compounds? Well, here’s a quick breakdown of each one:
- Cannabinoids – Cannabinoids are the parts of cannabis plant matter that interact with the human body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS, in order to trigger a range of effects, like the feeling of being high or the sensations of pain relief and increased appetite. Examples include CBD and THC.
- Flavonoids – Flavonoids, meanwhile, are the parts of cannabis that help to give each strain its unique flavor. They also have an effect on the color, or pigmentation, of cannabis plant matter, and they can have some therapeutic benefits but are less potent than cannabinoids.
In general, terpenes are different as they’re responsible mostly for aroma, rather than flavor, and they can contribute to making cannabinoids more effective and influencing the kinds of effects they can have on the mind and body. [Source]
How Do Terpenes Work?
We’ve looked at what terpenes in cannabis are, but how do these aromatic compounds actually work in the human body? Well, terpenes can work in a couple of different ways. They may be separated from plant matter and used for aromatherapy or in essential oils, for example. But if you want to feel the most tangible effects of marijuana terpenes, you have to use them together with cannabinoids.
When consumed with different cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, terpenes can work through something called the “Entourage Effect”, which is when different parts of the cannabis plant all work together to produce stronger and more noticeable effects than they would if consumed separately.
Where Are Terpenes Found in the Cannabis Plant?
The easiest way to notice terpenes in marijuana is to simply smell the intense aromas they produce, but you can also technically ‘see’ them by looking at the fine hairs along cannabis flowers. Those hair-like structures are called trichomes, and terpenes are made from little molecules of isoprene from those trichomes. They’re also sometimes found on the leaves and along the stems of cannabis plants.
What Is a Terpene Profile?
There are lots of different types of cannabis terpenes – more than 150, to be precise. Each cannabis strain has its own unique terpene content which is often referred to as ‘terpene profile’.
Most Common Terpenes in Cannabis
In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most common cannabis terpenes and their effects so you know what to look for when you buy from your nearest marijuana dispensary.
- Aroma: Spicy and herbal
- Potential Effects: Reduces inflammation and stress
- Potential Medical Value: Possible anticancer and antioxidant effects
- Also Found in: Cloves and hops.
- Vaporization Point: 266 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Borneol and Cannabigerol
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Bubba Kush, Candyland, Chemdawg, Gelato, Girl Scout Cookies
- Description: Also known as beta-caryophyllene, this common terpene is found in many cannabis strains and can help people feel less anxious or stressed.
- Aroma: Fruity and herbal
- Potential Effects: Relaxing and sedative effects
- Potential Medical Value: Possible analgesic, antioxidant, and anticancer effects
- Also Found in: Hops, citrus plants, eucalyptus.
- Vaporization Point: 334 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Caryophyllene and Eucalyptol
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: AK-47, Blue Dream, Grape Ape, Granddaddy Purp, OG Kush
- Description: This is the most common of all terpenes and is found in several other plants, along with many popular marijuana strains.
- Aroma: Spicy and floral
- Potential Effects: Relaxing effects
- Potential Medical Value: Possible anticancer and anti-insomnia effects
- Also Found in: 200+ plants, including lavender
- Vaporization Point: 388 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Borneol and Geraniol
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Amnesia Haze, Lavender, LA Confidential, OG Shark, Special Kush
- Description: This terpene is the one that is best-known for producing the distinctive cannabis smell. It’s found in lots of other plants, too.
- Aroma: Citrus
- Potential Effects: Reduces stress and improves mood
- Potential Medical Value: Possible immune system support effects
- Also Found in: Citrus fruits
- Vaporization Point: 348 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Cannabidiol and Caryophyllene
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Durban Poison, Jack Herer, OG Kush, Sour Diesel, Super Lemon Haze
- Description: An iconic terpene that is famed for its stand-out citrus notes. It’s also found in the peel of many citrus fruits.
- Aroma: Spicy
- Potential Effects: Reduces appetite
- Potential Medical Value: Possible anti-cancer effects
- Also Found in: Hops
- Vaporization Point: 222 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Cannabidiol and Caryophyllene
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Bubba Kush, Candyland, Death Star, Original Glue, Sour Diesel
- Description: This terpene is named after the hops in which it is founnd. It’s often found in more mature cannabis plants.
- Aroma: Pine
- Potential Effects: Reduces inflammation
- Potential Medical Value: Possible anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects
- Also Found in: Trees and conifers
- Vaporization Point: 313 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Citronellol and Guaiol
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Blue Dream, Bubba Kush, Chemdawg, Dutch Treat, Island Sweet Skunk
- Description: As the name implies, this terpene has pine-like smells and qualities and is found in certain trees.
- Aroma: Herbal
- Potential Effects: Reduces anxiety and stress
- Potential Medical Value: Possible anti-insomnia effects
- Also Found in: Rosemary
- Vaporization Point: 361 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Borneol and Carene
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Dutch Treat, Golden Pineapple, Lemon Meringue, Orange Cookies, XJ-13
- Description: Famed for its fresh, herby aroma, this terpene has strong medical potential and is being researched by healthcare communities.
- Aroma: Floral
- Potential Effects: Reduces inflammation and promotes relaxation
- Potential Medical Value: Possible antibiotic and antioxidant effects
- Also Found in: Apples and grapefruit
- Vaporization Point: 426 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Guiaol and Pinene
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Bubba Kush, Girl Scout Cookies, Jack Herer, OG Kush, White Widow
- Description: Often found in Indica-dominant types of cannabis, this terpene is associated with relaxing and soothing effects.
- Aroma: Floral
- Potential Effects: Reduces stress
- Potential Medical Value: Possible anti-inflammatory effects
- Also Found in: Chamomile
- Vaporization Point: 307 F
- Synergistic Cannabinoid and/or Terpene: Cannabigerol and Cannabidiol
- Cannabis Strains with this Terpene Dominant: Headband, Master Kush, OG Shark, Pink Kush, Rockstar
- Description: Found in chamomile plants, this gentle terpene has soothing and calming properties.
Medical Potential of Terpenes
Cannabis is well-known as a powerful medicinal plant, being used to help lots of patients, from those with chronic pain conditions to those suffering from cancer and other illnesses. But can terpenes have a part to play in this, too?
Well, research suggests that, yes, terpenes can have potential medical benefits. They can make the effects of medicinal cannabis more powerful to soothe patients who are dealing with pain and other issues, as well as offering other benefits like:
- Limiting and restricting the growth of bacteria
- Slowing down or stopping cell mutation, which could help with cancer
- Potentially providing relief from certain allergic reactions
- Working to reduce inflammation and pain
- Calming stress, anxiety, and other negative feelings
- Helping patients enjoy a healthy sleep schedule
How Terpenes Interact with the Human Body
When consumed by humans, terpenes can offer a range of therapeutic benefits and may help a person feel less pain and less stress, while also promoting a more relaxed mindset, among other things.
How Do Terpenes Work With Cannabinoids?
The “Entourage Effect” is the name given to the phenomenon in which terpenes and cannabinoids work together to produce more potent and interesting effects than if they were consumed separately. This is a critical part of how terpenes work.
Heather Wilson is a passionate cannabis enthusiast who has dedicated over four years of her life to working as a budtender. With a deep understanding of the difference between marijuana strains, cannabinoids, terpenes, and their effects, she has helped countless customers find the perfect product for their needs.
In addition to her work as a budtender, Heather is also an enthusiastic cook who loves to try new recipes incorporating cannabis. Whether she's whipping up a batch of infused cookies or cooking a delicious meal with cannabis-infused oil, Heather is always eager to explore the culinary possibilities of this versatile plant.
For Heather, cannabis is more than just a recreational substance. She uses it for her health and is an advocate for safe and responsible use. With a strong desire to spread awareness about the benefits of cannabis and fight the stigma that still surrounds marijuana, Heather is a true champion of this misunderstood plant.
Through her work and cooking, Heather is helping to change the conversation around marijuana and show the world that this plant has a lot to offer, both medically and recreationally. Heather joined with Brian to found Concept420 in 2022.