What Are Terpenes? The Different Sources and Effects That Could Make or Break Your Experience

Updated: Jun 1

Terpenes are an organic combination of carbon and hydrogen that occur naturally in the essential oils of plants. They’re also known as the fragrant compounds that dictate the smell of many plants and it said that smell keeps predators at bay and attracts pollinators.

Some common plant sources of terpenes include thyme, tea, Spanish sage, cannabis, and citrus fruits like oranges, mandarins, and lemons.

There have been hundreds of terpene compounds discovered in the cannabis plant. Cannabis cultivators are prioritizing terpenes in their strains to enhance the flavour and scent of their cannabis. Some cannabis strains are particularly rich in terpenes giving them a strong aroma. Interestingly, there are many medicinal uses for cannabis terpenes, which we’ll discuss later in this article.

What Are The Effects of Cannabis Terpenes?

Taste and smell are both subjective experiences that differ from person to person. To have the optimal cannabis experience, you always have to consider what’s best for yourself. Do you prefer flowery scents? Citrusy? Or do you prefer something spicy? It is important to remember, everyone experiences terpenes differently and what may work for you, may not work for someone else.

Additionally, terpenes can provide therapeutic effects such as anti-inflammatory properties, antibacterial properties, and pain relief among other benefits. Cannabis terpenes pack several different scents and flavours into your cannabis. When combined with THC and CBD, terpenes are known to leave you feeling cool and relaxed.

The Entourage Effect - How Do Terpenes Affect Cannabis?

Studies show that CBD alone tends to be less effective than when combined with a small amount of THC and terpenes. This is known as the entourage effect. Cannabinoids along with terpenes can help to increase the effectiveness of cannabis.

A 2011 study found that terpenes with similar aromas usually have similar effects.

Some physical benefits terpenes can provide include anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties, pain relief, and reduced muscle spasms. Mental benefits of terpenes can include reduced symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, stress, and depression.

The Most Common Cannabis Terpenes

Enough of that, let’s get into the fun stuff!


Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. It has a distinct herbal and citrus aroma. Myrcene also has a sedating effect and is a potential muscle relaxant. Myrcene coupled with THC can reduce pain and inflammation.


Pinene is commonly found in the needles of pine and conifer trees and unsurprisingly has a pine aroma. This terpene has similar anti-inflammatory effects to myrcene. Pinene can also act as a bronchodilator, which helps with conditions such as asthma.


Limonene has a citrus aroma and can assist with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The aroma of limonene can have mood-elevating properties. It can also have antioxidant properties to help with inflammation.


Caryophyllene or β-caryophyllene has a woodsy aroma with tinges of spice. This terpene can be found in black pepper and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties which can help in the treatment of duodenal ulcers.


Humulene gives off an earthy aroma similar to the flavour of the beer. Research suggests that humulene contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.


This terpene can be found in a few cannabis strains, but naturally occurs in lavender. Linalool has a strong floral and mild spice aroma. This terpene is mostly used in essential oils for aromatherapy purposes. Ongoing studies have suggested that linalool could help with seizures. Linalool is also known for its relaxing properties. When it's consumed along with CBD and THC, linalool can reduce paranoia and anxiety.


Terpineol has a floral aroma that’s reminiscent of lilacs. This terpene is often found in perfumes. Terpineol is known for its strong sedative effects and is commonly used in aromatherapy.


Bisabolol, also called a-bisabolol and levomenol, is a terpene that is known for delivering a fresh floral aroma that sometimes includes a sweet hint of citrus or spice. Discovered and first isolated in 1951, it is commonly used as a fragrance ingredient in cosmetic and dermatological products, including aftershave cream, deodorants, lipstick, and sports creams.

This terpene is found in many plant species other than cannabis, including chamomile (which has been shown to contain up to 50 percent bisabolol), sage, and South American (Brazilian) candeia tree.

Medicinal Efficacy of Bisabolol

Bisabolol has been revealed by many research studies to deliver significant medicinal benefits, including skin repair/healing and anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Studies have shown that bisabolol conveys additional health benefits, including analgesic (pain management), antibiotic, anticancer, and antioxidant properties.

In addition, bisabolol has demonstrated the unique ability to increase the absorption of other medicinal molecules by the dermal layers of the skin. This makes this terpene a potentially valuable companion ingredient in topical formulations.

Can Terpenes Get You High?

While terpenes can enhance the various beneficial effects of consuming cannabis, they will not get you high on their own. If you were to extract and separate the terpenes from a cannabis plant, you would get a distinct taste. However, consuming terpenes on their own will not produce or give you any noticeable psychoactive effects.

What Is The Use of Cannabis Terpenes?

In the cannabis industry, terpenes are used to concentrate cannabis products and produce new flavour combinations. They’re also used to improve the natural smell and flavour profiles of certain strains. Terpenes can be added to restore some that may have been lost during the plant extraction process. Many cannabis producers make it a priority to preserve the full cannabinoid and terpene contents of the raw cannabis plant without alteration.

If you have any more questions regarding terpenes or cannabis in general, please feel free to contact us here.