Terpenes Found in Cannabis Strains and Their Effects

Terpenes Found in Cannabis Strains and Their Effects

Cannabis has a distinct smell, which is due to the terpenes present in it. The terpenes from the cannabis plants are a big part of the plant’s benefits for the human body. Cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabis compounds help, but they are not the only ones. In fact, terpenes change the effects of these chemicals by interacting with them. A medical cannabis’ terpene content or profile is just as crucial as the cannabinoids if you want to get the most out of it.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes, also called terpenoids, are aromatic chemicals found naturally in plants. They give the plants distinctive smells, like the smell of lemons, lavender, or mint. They attract pollinators like bees, scare off predators, and protect themselves by helping them heal from damage and strengthen their immune systems.

In addition, terpenes are also often separated to add flavors and smell to many products, like perfumes, body soaps, and foods. For instance, Mary’s Medibles White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie has various beneficial cannabis compounds, such as terpenes and cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

Terpenes are not only what give cannabis its smell, but they may also help people who use cannabis for medical reasons. For example, some terpenes may help you relax and open up your airways, while others kill bacteria and have antibacterial properties and anti-inflammatory properties.

Where Do Terpenes Come From?

Terpenes are naturally-occurring chemical compounds in the trichomes of female cannabis plants. Trichomes are clear, sticky glands that cover the surface of buds and, in smaller numbers, the leaves and stems of plants. 

Some terpenes, like geraniol, keep insects and herbivores away from cannabis. Other terpenes, like terpinolene and linalool, attract insects and other small animals that can help spread pollen. These aromatic compounds help a plant’s immune system by telling it about its environment, protecting it from stressors and pathogens, and helping to trigger immune responses.

Many different things can change how many terpenes a cannabis plant makes. Some terpenes are volatile compounds, which means that they are easy to lose when cannabis is extracted in the usual way.

What Does the Body Do to Terpenes?

People have known for a long time that terpenes have an aroma. People have been using the strong smells of terpenes to make essential oils for aromatherapy. For instance, anyone who has put lavender oil, which has linalool, behind their ears knows that it might help them relax. In the same way, terpenes can add to the effects of some types of cannabis.

But the effects of terpenes seem to go beyond making you feel good and reducing stress. Terpenes have also been called a new frontier in the medical use of cannabis. Until recently, almost all of the attention has been on the healing properties of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. However, as our understanding of terpenes grows, it’s becoming clear that these aromatic compounds are also powerful medicines.

All terpenes have their own unique sets of healing properties. Some of the effects terpenes have on people are similar to what they do in other plants, such as helping to eliminate microbes and pathogens.

Fresh cannabis flowers used to make clinical cannabis

Terpenes and the Cannabis Plant

Many terpenes are bioactive, meaning they have a biological effect on the body. There are more than 150 terpenes in the cannabis plant, and scientists are trying to figure out which combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids are best. For example, mixing linalool with THC can keep your mind clear. 

Terpenes are believed to make it easier for cannabinoids to be absorbed and to have therapeutic effects. They change how the cannabinoids are absorbed, which changes how high you feel. In other words, they can speed up or slow down how chemicals like THC, which gives cannabis its psychoactive effects, are absorbed into the body. Terpenes’ effects on cannabis also depend on their boiling points and how they are stored.

All of this is possible because cannabinoids and terpenes can attach to receptors in our bodies that are part of the endocannabinoid system. The term “entourage effect” describes how the different compounds in cannabis work better together than when taken separately.

Terpenes and Cannabinoids

Terpenes and cannabinoids are not the same. Cannabinoids are organic compounds that are also found in large amounts in cannabis plants. They are different from terpenes, which are aromatic compounds. Most terpenes can affect our endocannabinoid system similarly, but how our bodies absorb and use the compounds is different.

For instance, even though THC makes you feel high and binds to endocannabinoid receptors, terpenes do not. They make it easier for chemical compounds to get into the brain and bloodstream and cause serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and GABA to be released.

Most Common Terpenes in the Cannabis Plant

Cannabis has six primary terpenes, each of which has its own benefits. Knowing what each common terpene does can help you determine which strain is best for your needs.


Myrcene is the most common and popular terpene in cannabis and can also be found in hops and other plants like lemongrass, thyme, and mango. It smells spicy and musty. The potential therapeutic properties gained by consuming this terpene include:

  • Anti-inflammatory and antimutagenic properties
  • Pain relief
  • Better sleep
  • Protection from DNA damage caused by environmental toxins

Critical Mass, OG Kush, and Granddaddy Purple are all strains with a lot of myrcene.


Pinene is one of the cannabis terpenes that has been studied the most. It comes in two different types, called alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. The smell of these terpenes is citrusy, peppery, and earthy. Alpha-pinene smells like basil and hops, while beta-pinene smells like pine needles and rosemary. This prevalent terpene can provide medicinal benefits such as:

  • Give you more energy
  • Help you concentrate better
  • Open up your airways
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Stop short-term memory loss
  • Fight cancer
  • Kill viruses

Bubba Kush, Harlequin, Dutch Treat, and Jack Herer are all well-known strains with many pinenes. 1ML HTHCFSE Vape Cartridge by High Voltage Extracts, made from the cannabis Sativa hybrid strain Gorilla Bomb, also has an excellent pinene content.


Limonene is made in the peels and rinds of citrus fruits, like oranges and lemons, and is what gives them their smell. Its benefits include:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Relieving stress and depression
  • Easing pain
  • Getting rid of nausea
  • Reducing appetite
  • Fighting cancer 
  • Killing microbes

Strains like Lemon OG, Durban Poison, Trainwreck, Bruce Banner, Sour Diesel, and OG Kush are well-known for having a lot of limonene.


The smell of lavender or birch is caused by linalool. This terpene is also found in more than 200 plants, like coriander. Hence, you may have already eaten it. The benefits of this terpene include:

  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Helping people with epilepsy who have seizures.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Killing bacteria.
  • Even keeping mosquitoes away.

Amnesia Haze, Lavender Kush, and Purple Urkle are all well-known strains with a lot of this terpene.


Humulene has notes of spice, wood, and earth. It smells like herbs like black pepper, cloves, ginger, sage, and many more. Possible benefits of this terpene include:

  • Reducing appetite
  • Helping wounds heal
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Relieving pain
  • Fighting bacteria
  • Possibly stopping the growth of cancer cells or preventing them from spreading

Girl Scout Cookies, Pink Kush, and Sour Diesel are all well-known strains with a lot of this terpene. Try Pink Kush Live Resin 1g Vape Cartridge By Boost to experience the effects and smell of humulene.


Hops, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and rosemary all have caryophyllene, which has a spicy smell. The health benefits of this terpene include:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Balancing glucose levels
  • Stopping cancer cells from growing
  • Relieving pain, stress, depression, and anxiety

Chemdog, Girl Scout Cookies, and Death Star are all well-known strains with a lot of this terpene.

Lesser-Known Terpenes Found in the Cannabis Plant

Even though the terpenes below are not as well-known and may not be found in large amounts in marijuana, it’s still important to know about them.


Ocimene is a terpene that is not very well known but is common in nature. This terpene has a pleasant smell that is often used in perfumes because it smells sweet, citrusy, and floral. Mint, parsley, and orchids all have a smell that comes from this terpene. This terpene has many potential benefits, such as:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Relieving pain
  • Preventing seizures
  • Killing fungi
  • Killing cancer cells

Strains like Golden Goat, Strawberry Cough, and Lemon Sour Diesel have a lot of ocimene.


Terpinolene is often found in different types of cannabis, but only in tiny amounts. This chemical smells like mint, camphor, and menthol because it has a sweet, piney scent. Plants like mugwort, wormwood, and sagebrush often have it. Possible benefits of this terpene include:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Being an antioxidant
  • Protecting neurons
  • Relieving stress and anxiety
  • Relieving pain
  • Helping in sleep

Dutch Treat, Orange Cookies, and Golden Pineapple are all well-known strains that contain terpinolene.


Terpineol is a terpene found in marijuana and over 150 other plants in small amounts. It smells like flowers and is used in the perfume and fragrance industry. The sweet smell of terpineol is like the smell of lilacs, crabapple blossoms, and lime blossoms. This terpene has therapeutic effects that include reducing inflammation and pain, as well as other medicinal properties such as being an:

  • Anticonvulsant
  • Antiasthmatic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antidiarrheal
  • Gastroprotective
  • Antioxidant
  • Antitumor

Terpineol can also help the skin absorb cannabinoids better and boost their effects in the area. White Widow and Girl Scout Cookies are all popular strains with this terpene.


Geraniol is a compound that is found in a lot of plants. It is also the main compound in rose oil and can even be found in lemons and geraniums. Because it smells sweet and flowery, it is also used in many perfumes. This terpene:

  • Keeps insects away
  • Kills bacteria
  • Fights inflammation
  • Stops infections
  • Prevents cancer

Dutch Hawaiian, Strawberry Diesel, and Amnesia Haze are all strains that have this rosy terpene.


Borneol has been used in cosmetics for decades. This terpene has a minty aroma, which smells like menthol and camphor. Borneol can be found in sagebrush, ginger, mugwort, and wormwood. It can also:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Ease stress
  • Relieve pain
  • Stop oxidation
  • Protect nerve cells

Some strains, like Amnesia Haze, OG Kush, and Golden Haze, have this terpene.


Camphene is found in essential oils like cypress oil and citronella. It smells like fir needles and is earthy, like the smell of dirt. Camphene is believed to:

  • Relieve pain
  • Lower inflammation
  • Lessen plasma cholesterol

Some strains, like ACDC, Ghost OG, Banana Kush, and Strawberry Banana, have camphene.


Cineol, which is another name for eucalyptol, is a terpene that smells like mint, spices, and earth. This terpene is found in mugwort, tea tree, bay leaves, and eucalyptus oil. It could be used to treat pain and is mostly used due to its therapeutic qualities such as:

  • Antifungal properties
  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Analgesic properties

Bubba Kush, Girl Scout Cookies, and Super Silver Haze are all popular strains with this terpene.

Terpenes FAQs

Do terpenes have effects?

Terpenes are crucial for a cannabis strain’s flavor and aroma. Additionally, they may cause euphoric effects when combined with cannabinoids and other elements found in the cannabis plant. Terpenes can modify THC’s intoxicating effects and may improve the therapeutic effects of the substance due to their capacity to lessen the mental high. Different cannabis terpenes have the potential to impact your mood, health, and sensation of relief.

Do terpenes affect people differently?

Your response to cannabis can also be influenced by terpene sensitivity, especially if you are chemically sensitive. Research understanding how the chemical substances found in the cannabis flowers interact with one another and with humans is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, you won’t probably get high from terpenes on their own, but some are still regarded as psychoactive due to their impact on the brain.

Are higher terpenes better?

The more terpenes a flower contains, the better. Preliminary studies indicate that certain terpenes may be advantageous for treating a number of mental health issues. However, extracts with higher than 40% terpene levels are unpleasant to vaporize. It can actually sting your lips or tongue if the dosage is too high and may taste terrible if not done properly. Depending on the chosen end formulation, the terpene content of vaping oil normally ranges from 5 to 15%.

Will terpenes show up on a drug test?

Terpenes alone do not contain any cannabinoids and won’t get you high even when they interact with THC and CBD. Thus, terpenes won’t make you test positive for drugs. Since terpenes don’t contain any THC, they are completely legal. Cannabinoids and their molecular structure are unrelated other than the fact that they are produced in the same plant (Cannabis sativa).


As you can see, different strains of cannabis have various terpene profiles that can be used to get some of the plant’s best benefits. There are more than 150 different kinds of terpenes in cannabis. Even though most terpenes are only present in small amounts, the stronger ones work together to give different types of cannabis their own unique smells. 

When deciding which cannabis strain to consume based on its cannabinoid and terpene profile, it is essential to avoid terpenes made in a lab. On a positive note, cannabis with a lot of terpenes is good for you and can also be fun to smoke because the aromas stimulate your sense of smell and add to the taste and effects of the flower.

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