What Are Terpenes?

Taylor Engle
Oct 12, 2020

Whether or not you know what terpenes are, you know what terpenes are. That first whiff of citrusy sativa or the skunk-like scent of your indica that makes you heave a big sigh and exclaim, “Ah, that’s some GAS!”–would not exist without terpenes. And although they are responsible for the enticing, unmistakable scent of some fire cannabis, terpenes provide so many more benefits than a simple smell.

How many terpenes are found in cannabis?

Terpenes, aromatic oils that are found within the glands that produce cannabinoids we know and love like THC, CBD, and CBN, are responsible for the scent and hue of your plant. There are over 100 recognized types of terpenes, each with their own individual scent. There are several factors that play into cannabis’ development of terpenes: climate, weather, age, maturation, soil, fertilizer, time of day and time of year, to name a few.

Much like other plants or flowers, terpenes exist for adaptive purposes–to ward off predators and entice pollinators. In addition to plants, terpenes are found in many foods and spices, like mangos, rosemary, apples, broccoli, and most citrus fruits. Knowing your terpenes will help you to differentiate between strains and what qualities you should look for when purchasing your flower–and also when planning out your daily diet in general.

Although terpenes have beneficial properties of their own, researchers have found that terpenes seem to encourage the “entourage effect,” which means their presence works with the cannabinoids in the plant to deliver the maximum amount of benefit.

While there are over 100 types of terpenes to try out, let’s focus on 10 of the most prominent terpenes found in today’s cannabis market, and how they may affect your experience:

1. Limonene

Limonene is one of the most-recognizable terpenes in the cannabis industry. In addition to cannabis, limonene is found in citrus fruits and is responsible for the tropical scent of your Pineapple Express and other energizing sativas. It works to boost your immune system and ease digestion.

2. Pinene

While limonene is popular within the cannabis realm, pinene is a terpene that is found most commonly in nature overall. If the name doesn’t make it obvious, pinene is found in pine trees and is responsible for the pine tree-like aroma that certain strains carry–like the world-famous Blue Dream or Jack Herer. It is also believed to be anti-inflammatory. This terpene has more of a relaxing effect, so make sure to indulge when you’re done with your tasks for the day.

3. Guaiol

Much like pinene, guaiol has a strong pine scent and seems to have a positive effect on the lungs. It can be found in strains like Sour Blueberrry and has a stimulating and energizing effect.

4. Myrcene

Another incredibly prominent terpene in the game, myrcene is responsible for the “earthy” scent found in the different types of kush. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, similar to cannabinoids CBD and CBN. It also may alleviate minor aches and pain, and consumers tend to experience euphoria and energizing properties. You’ll find high levels of myrcene in strains like White Widow or Skunk.

5. Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene has an incredibly recognizable scent due to the fact that it’s also found in herbs like cloves, rosemary and hops. It’s very similar to myrcene for its benefits, which seem to have positive effects on inflammation, aches and pains, and energy levels. It can be found in strains like GSC and Cookies ‘n’ Cream.

6. Terpinolene

Terpinolene is something of a combination between caryophyllene and limonene for its unique, herbal-citrus-hybrid scent. It can also be found in rosemary, apples, or lilacs. Research has pointed to terpinolene as a powerful antioxidant. It also has sedative properties, which is why your Tangie might be putting you to sleep.

7. Humulene

Prominent in hops, this terpene can also be found in sage, black pepper, ginseng, basil, and clove. Famous for its apparent ability to energize and motivate, humulene has a rich, fermented, “hoppy” aroma and works as an anti-inflammatory oil and provides muscle relief. Humulene is prominent in strains like Durban Poison or Trainwreck.

8. Nerolidol

Responsible for strains with “woody” scent and flavor, nerolidol is also found in natural cosmetic and cleaning products. It’s typically associated with calming and relaxing effects. Research has shown its inclination for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can be found in GSC or Sour Diesel.

9. Bisabolol

On the other end of the spectrum is bisabolol, which carries a floral aroma and is often found in cosmetics and fragrances. It is specifically studied for its effects on the skin–bisabolol is believed to reduce inflammation of the skin. It’s found in strains like Rockstar and tends to have a calm, relaxing effect on the consumer.

10. Linalool

Similar to bisabolol for its scent, linalool can be found in lavender, rosewood, coriander, jasmine, and rose. It’s also often used in perfumes and soaps because of its fresh, pleasant aroma. Much like the other terpenes, linalool has anti-inflammatory properties, but it has also been found to ease fungal issues and fight sleeplessness. With a calming effect, it can be found in strains like Lavender Kush and LA Confidential.

Licenses: 1. Jetty CDPH-10002243 2. Jetty CDPH-10002243 3. Heavy Hitters CDPH-10001352 4. PLUS CDPH-10001901 5. Select CDPH-10001355 6. Old Pal CDPH-10002329 7. Jetty CDPH-T00000160 8. Northern Emeralds C11-0000152-LIC 9. Humboldt Farms CDPH-10002992 10. Circles C11-0000532-LIC 11. Occidental Hills TAL-180002932

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