explain terpenes

Have you ever wondered why cannabis/hemp has so many different effects and flavor profiles? The answer is terpenes.

Short answer: Terpenes are ever-evaporating volatile oils produced in a wide variety of plants which create distinctive smells and flavors. Most plants have one or a few terpenes that they can secrete. Cannabis/Hemp, has the unique ability to secrete over a 100 different terpenes, and, these terpenes can modulate the effects of cannabinoids you consume with them. Terpenes are the building blocks of the cannabis/hemp experience – some strains promote relaxing effects, while others promote an elevated sense of focus and acuity, this is all thanks to terpenes.

Next we will discuss the top 10 terpenes to look for in your cannabis and hemp products. This will include where the terpene is found in nature, its scent and flavor, and its effects in cannabis/hemp.

We’re going to go from the most calming terpenes first, to the most energizing terpenes last.

First, the indica terpenes.


The most abundant terpene in cannabis/hemp. In nature, this terpene is commonly found in mangos.

Myrcene smells earthy and a little sweet.

Strains that are dominant in this terpene are usually indicas with calming and relaxing effects. It has also been reported that myrcene is useful in reducing inflammation and chronic pain.

Strains that are rich in myrcene are kush strains and OG strains.

*Tip- Many people say that if you eat a mango before consuming hemp/cannabis that it will act the same as if you consumed a Myrcene dominant strain.


This rare terpene is not found in very many strains. In nature, It is commonly found in lavender- making it smell very soothing and pleasant.

Unsurprisingly, it has very strong sedative and relaxing properties.

Some well known linalool strains are Do-Si-Do, Special Kush, Lavender, and Durban.

*Linalool has been utilized via aromatherapy for generations.


This rare terpene can be best described as floral, woody, and a little bit citrusy. Terpineol is a common ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics, and flavors.

It occurs naturally in more than 150 plants, including cannabis, lime blossoms, lilacs, eucalyptus, and pine trees.

This terpene is very relaxing. Medical benefits of terpineol also include antibiotic and antioxidant properties. It can be found in Jack Herer, Skywalker OG, and Fire OG.

Next, the hybrid terpenes.


This terpene is commonly found in black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and spices like oregano, basil and rosemary. Caryophyllene is the only terpene that binds to CB2 receptors, which makes it technically a cannabinoid as well.

The most noted benefits include analgesic and anti-anxiety properties.

Caryophyllene is in a lot of strains, some examples include Girl Scout Cookies, Gorilla Glue #4, and WIFI OG.


Also known as bisabolol, this terpene has a pleasant floral aroma and can be found in nature in chamomile flower. This terpene is used primarily in the cosmetics industry, but lately it has caught the attention of researchers since it showed medical benefits, especially in cannabis/hemp.

Alpha-bisabolol proved to be effective in treating bacterial infections and wounds and is a great antioxidant with anti-irritation and analgesic properties. It can be found in strains like Harle-Tsu, Pink Kush, Headband, OG Shark, and ACDC.


This terpene has an herbal minty scent, and can be found in herbs like rosemary, mint and camphor.

This terpene is a good natural insect repellent which makes it great in preventing diseases like the West Nile virus, being passed by ticks, fleas, mosquitoes etc. It’s also widely used in Chinese traditional acupuncture. Strains high in borneol are Amnesia Haze, Golden Haze, K13 Haze.


The primary terpene of the eucalyptus tree. It has recognizable minty and cool tones in its smell but most cannabis strains do not contain large amounts of it. This terpene has been used in cosmetics as well as medicine. When it comes to its medical value, eucalyptol relieves pain but also slows the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Although it is still in the early stages in research, this terpene has shown some promising effects on Alzheimer’s as well. Eucalyptol can be found in Super Silver Haze and Headband.


The first terpene found in hops. Its aroma contains earthy, woody and spicy notes.

Besides cannabis, it can be also found in clove, sage, and black pepper. It has a variety of medical properties. Early research has shown humulene to be anti-proliferative, meaning it prevents cancer cells from growing. Also, it proved to be effective in suppressing appetite, making it a potential weight loss tool. Humulene also reduces inflammation, relieves pain and fights bacterial infections.

You can find humulene in strains like White Widow, Headband, Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel, and Pink Kush.

And finally, the Sativa Terpenes.


The second most abundant terpene in all cannabis strains. As its name infers, limonene gives strains a citrusy smell that resembles lemons, which is no surprise as all citrus fruits contain large amounts of limonene. It is used in cosmetics and also in cleaning products.

For therapeutic purposes, limonene is known to improve mood and reduce stress. Researchers also found it to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and one research even found it to have a role in reducing tumor size.

Strains that have “lemon” or “sour” in their name are usually rich in limonene. High levels of limonene can be found in strains like O.G. Kush, Sour Diesel, Super Lemon Haze, and Durban Poison.

* This terpene is commonly blamed for giving cannabis anxiety inducing qualities, but this is not the case with hemp/cbd. Terpenes modulate cannabinoids, so, if the cannabinoid has no possibility of anxiety, a terpene won’t change that fact.


This rare terpene is found in oranges and smells/tastes just like an orange. While this terpene is found in many strains, it exists in small quantities, making it one of the harder terpenes to spot. Responsible for focus, mood boost, and energy, this terpene is a great substitute for limonene especially in a cannabis strains because it doesn’t normally leave the user feeling anxious.


This compound is commonly derived from the resin in pine trees. Like trees, in other plants, it also has that wonderful outdoorsy, earthy aroma. As a therapeutic remedy, it can be used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and bronchial dilator. Haze Berry, OG Kush, and Blue Dream tend to have a higher amount of the cannabis terpene, Pinene.

Written by Daniel Veilleux



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