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What are terpenes and why are they so important in cannabis?

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Terpenes are natural compounds found in all forms of cannabis that give the plant its scent. In addition, terpenes work in concert with more familiar compounds found in the plant, such as the cannabinoids THC and CBD to provide their own unique health benefits. There really is a lot more to the cannabis plant than just CBD and THC.

These two cannabinoids, along with others of course, help many processes in the body and support the other properties of cannabis. More and more scientists believe that other components of the cannabis plant work synergistically with cannabinoids to maximize medicinal properties. We will now focus on one of these ingredients: terpenes. Although all forms of cannabis contain terpenes, some are particularly prevalent in psychoactive cannabis (marijuana);

What are terpenes?

Cannabis is not the only plant that produces terpenes. Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds produced by many plants, especially conifers. Terpenes give these plants their unique scents and help the plants in a variety of ways;

Terpenes attract pollinating insects for plant reproduction. They also deter or even kill predators. They slow plant maturation and regulate metabolism. Terpenes are the main component of plant essential oils. Aromatherapy treatments often use terpenes for their medicinal properties. Some terpenes were introduced because of stress to the plant. Yes, even plants suffer from stress that destroys or even kills them, such as from excessive heat, light, lack of water, excess water, etc.

The exact number of terpenes found in the cannabis plant ranges between 100-200, depending on different variations of scientific classification;

For example, limonene is a terpene that gives citrus fruits their unique aroma. It is found in both lemons and oranges, but in different concentrations, creating different scents or variations.

We will now take a detailed look at the nine primary terpenes found in cannabis and introduce the medicinal properties of each of them.

Important terpenes in cannabis

Below we look at the 9 most important terpenes in cannabis: myrcene, limonene, carophylene, pinene (Alpha/Beta), terpineol, borneol, linalool, eucalyptol and nerolidol;


Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. In some strains, more than 60% of the essential oil is myrcene. It smells very similar to cloves. Scientists consider myrcene to be a powerful analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic;

Myrcene blocks cytochrome, aflatoxin B and other promutagenic carcinogens. It has a relaxing, calming, anticonvulsant and sedative effect. Myrcene works synergistically with THC and may also increase psychoactive potential.

Citrus essential oil contains high levels of myrcene. Many people claim that consuming mangoes 45 minutes before consuming psychoactive cannabis results in faster onset and greater intensity.


Limonene is often the second, third or fourth terpene found in cannabis resin and produces the scent found in citrus fruits. Like myrcene, limonene contains antifungal, antibacterial and anticarcinogenic properties. It is also said to protect against Aspergillus toxins and carcinogens found in smoke;

A 2013 cancer study even revealed that terpenes reduced tumours in women with early-stage breast cancer. Limonene quickly and easily penetrates the blood barrier, which increases systolic pressure. In addition, some experts claim that limonene increases attention, mental focus, well-being, and sex drive.

Citrus peel, rosemary, juniper, peppermint and several oils from pine needles also contain limonene;


Many herbs and spices contain caryophyllene. Black pepper contains a large amount, giving it a spicy taste. As with the previous two terpenes, caryophyllene has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antifungal properties. It has an affinity for the CB2 receptors in our bodies, making it a common ingredient for anti-inflammatories and creams. Topical application of caryophyllene also relieves toothaches.

Caryophyllene terpene gives black pepper a spicy aroma. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

One interesting note about this terpene is its promising role in alcohol rehabilitation. In a study on mice, researchers found that caryophyllene reduced voluntary alcohol intake. In addition to black pepper, cloves and cinnamon contain it. Lavender also produces caryophyllene in small amounts.


Pinen, as the name suggests, creates a scent associated with pine and fir trees. Doctors use pinene in medicines as an expectorant, bronchodilator, it is also used in anti-inflammatory agents and as a topical antiseptic. Pinene also improves concentration, personal satisfaction and energy. Patients suffering from arthritis, Crohn’s disease and cancer can benefit from pinene;

A unique fact about pinene: Smoking high-pinene cannabis can make you feel like you’re sucking in more air, which can lead to coughing or hyperventilation.

Many coniferous and non-coniferous plants, balsamic resin, pine forests and some citrus fruits produce pinene.


Terpineol smells of lilac, apple and lime flowers. Plants with high levels of pinene often also produce terpineol. If you’ve ever enjoyed Lapsang souchong tea, part of the flavor came from the terpineol in the pine smoke used in processing;

Terpineol produces a sedative effect often associated with strains of the indica psychoactive conopi. In tests on mice, terpineol reduced mobility by 45 percent. Experts also believe that terpineol has antibiotic and antioxidant properties. Commercial producers of terpineol often derive this terpene from Monterey cypress trees.


Borneol smells like mint and camphor. Chinese herbalists use borneol in remedies for fatigue, stress and persistent illness. Some scientists believe that this terpene has natural insect-repellent properties and can be used against diseases caused by ticks, fleas and mosquitoes, such as West Nile virus. One published study even shows that borneol kills breast cancer cells;


Linalool has a floral scent similar to lavender and spring flowers. It is currently used in the treatment of various cancers. Linalool has a calming effect, counteracts anxiety and has sedative effects. Linalool is responsible for the sedative effects of certain psychoactive strains of cannabis. In tests on mice, their activity was reduced by 75%;

The mint plant family, which is often found in hemp and cannabis, also produces the terpene linalool.

Patients suffering from arthritis, depression, seizures, insomnia and cancer have found relief from this terpene;

The Lamiaceae family of plants and herbs, which includes, laurel, cinnamon, rosewood and birch, produces linalool. Linalool is a precursor in the formation of vitamin E.


Eucalyptol is the main component of eucalyptus essential oil. It has a minty smell and is found in small amounts in psychoactive cannabis. Eucalyptol relieves pain, improves concentration and inner balance.

The eucalyptus plant, bay leaves, sage, sweet basil and cardamom contain remarkable amounts of eucalyptol.


Nerolidol has a unique woody and fresh bark scent. This terpene may have antifungal, anticancer and antimalarial properties. It could also prevent certain types of parasites.

Neroli, ginger, jasmine, lavender and tea tree oil contain nerolidol.

Understanding and using terpenes

Again, these are just some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. There are many more.

After reading this article, we hope you understand how the benefits of terpenes combine perfectly with those of CBD and all other cannabinoids. We hope you will start incorporating them into your daily CBD regimen;

If you cannot find the desired terpenes in your cannabis supplements, you can supplement them by adding other natural plants such as lavender, which has a high nerolidol content;

More and more CBD companies are recognising the importance of terpenes and are now adding different terpenes to their products to complement those already found in cannabis. Some brands even sell terpene concentrates that customers can incorporate themselves;

If you want to see the full effect of specific terpenes, try looking for a type or species of plant that is not cannabis and simply combine it with CBD. You may not get the same synergistic effect as when the terpenes are naturally present, but you should still get the healing properties of the terpenes themselves and the medicinal properties of CBD;

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