The different types of CBD terpenes.

Up close picture of a cannabis plant.

An introduction to terpenes in cannabis.

Terpenes give cannabis plants their unique taste and smell. Research now shows that they can also affect the effects of cannabis. In general, cannabinoids are the main focus, but behind the scenes, it is the terpenes that create invigorating scents and tempting flavors. Not only do terpenes support the sensory side of cannabis, but they also have a huge impact on regulating the "high" of cannabis.



What are terpenes?

Terpenes are what give cannabis its distinctive flavors. They are the aromatic oils that the plant produces and that can give a variety a fruity or minty taste, give it an earthy or lemon aroma, or make it smell like cheese.

Cannabis plants produce terpenes in the same glands in which they produce THC and CBD, but terpenes have not received much attention until recently. Growers and medical researchers have always focused on THC and CBD, which means that knowledge about terpenes and how they work is not so widespread. It is only recently that it has become apparent that terpenes play an important role in the unique effects of cannabis.

How do terpenes work?

Terpenes work in different ways. They give your cannabis a pleasant taste or smell and play a very important role in the effects of each strain.
Scientists have identified an interaction between terpenes and cannabinoids: molecules from these two families seem to work together to produce increased benefits - a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.
For example, limonene, β-caryophyllene, and pinene work together with THC in certain effects. CBD and linalool also have a special synergistic relationship. Terpenes also produce certain effects on their own. Numerous studies document the fascinating effect of these molecules in isolated form.


Do terpenes make you high?

Terpenes, unlike THC, do not induce a psychoactive high. However, they do act in a more subtle way, altering mood by interacting with the serotonin and dopamine systems. These compounds also influence the high produced by cannabinoids and "optimize" it significantly. For example, terpenes such as lime have a refreshing and stimulating effect. On the other hand, myrcene has a more relaxing effect.

How are terpenes absorbed into the body?

Cannabis terpenes are mainly ingested by smoking or evaporation. Each puff of a cannabis flower or cannabis extract brings a lot of terpenes into the lungs, which quickly send them into the bloodstream.

It is interesting to note that modern innovations in the cannabis industry have meant that consumers no longer have to rely on specific strains to access particular terpenes. Several manufacturers now offer terpene extracts - many of which are isolated from natural sources such as fruit - which users can add to their flower to modulate their experience.

Terpenes are volatile molecules, which means that they decompose at relatively low temperatures. This is why vaporizing is the best option for smoking terpenes. Vaporizers use conduction or convection heat, or a mixture of both, and operate at much lower temperatures (compared to the temperature of a burning joint). With modern vaporizers, you can adjust the temperature settings to the perfect smoke. Because different terpenes evaporate at different temperatures, you can target specific terpenes precisely with these devices.

What is a terpene profile?

Terpene profiles refer to the specific cocktail of aromatic molecules of each plant. Each strain has a unique terpene profile composed of a variable percentage of different compounds. The most common terpenes - caryophyllene, myrcene and pinene - are generally highlighted in most terpene profiles, alongside less common terpenes.

Here is a list of the most common terpenes in cannabis and their effects.



Myrcene is the most commonly found terpene in cannabis and makes up the majority of the aromatic oils in the different strains of cannabis. Myrcene is also present in other plants, such as beer hops. Some compare myrcene to the aroma of cloves. It is known to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and analgesic properties. Myrcene has a calming and relaxing effect. It is known to increase the psychotropic effects of THC.



After myrcene, limonene is the second most commonly found terpene in cannabis. As its name suggests, it has a strong citrus smell. It is known for its fungicidal and antibacterial properties. Studies show that limonene is also anticarcinogenic and may help prevent the growth of tumors.

Limonene can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. It is known to increase mental concentration and alertness and to improve general well-being. There is isolated evidence that it is also beneficial for sexual health. Some of the products sold today use limonene to treat depression and anxiety. It is one of the aromatic terpenes that plants use as a natural repellent to protect against insects and other predators. Haze strains are a great source of this terpene.


Linalool is reminiscent of fresh flowers. It has a floral scent of lavender with a spicy touch. It has a calming effect and is used to treat nervousness and anxiety. It is said to have analgesic and anti-epileptic properties. It is also currently used to treat certain types of cancer that are being explored. Linalool is the terpene that is partly responsible for the calming and sedative effects of some strains of cannabis.


Caryophyllene has a pungent taste often found in herbs and spices such as black pepper. It is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Cloves are known to be a natural remedy for toothache and contain a good amount of this terpene. Caryophyllene is also said to act as a fungicide.


Terpinolene has the scent of lime blossom and the pleasant scent of lilac. It is often used in the manufacturing of perfumes and cosmetics. Terpinolene is one of the terpenes that has a calming and relaxing effect. Cannabis strains that contain high levels of terpinolene also contain high levels of pinene. Pinene can make it difficult to recognize terpineol by its smell alone.



Nerolidol is present in ginger, lemongrass and niaouli. It is used as a flavoring agent in the production of perfumes. It has a woody, fresh and earthy smell reminiscent of bark. For its therapeutic benefits, nerolidol is considered to be an antifungal agent and effective in the treatment of malaria. Nerolidol also has calming and relaxing effects.



Although ocimene is well known, research on their specific effects is still insufficient. Nevertheless, we do know that it carries a sweet, woody and piney aroma.



Do you like the taste of  lemon and sweetness when you smoke cannabis? In that case, you have probably already inhaled a lot of carene. Early research has suggested that carene has beneficial effects on the nervous system and perhaps improves memory as well.

Our final thoughts about terpenes.

Terpenes determine the taste and aroma of cannabis which why they are such a important part of the plant. As more research is conducted I'm sure more terpenes will be found and brought to light. Until then try out different CBD and THC flower by their terpene profiles and see if you can tell them difference. You may find that there is a perfect terpene our there for you.

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