What is a Terpene?!


When you’re new to cannabis consumption, there can be a lot of confusing jargon thrown around by dispensary agents.  Things like “terpenes” or “terps” are mentioned.  To cannabis enthusiasts and long-time medical marijuana patients, these terms are common place because terpenes are an integral component of cannabis and its derivative products.  However, as a new consumer going into a dispensary, it can feel like…”a what?!”


So, WTF is a terpene?

Simply, terpenes create the aroma of cannabis (and other plants such as hops). Flower strains smell different because they contain different terpenes.  The combination of terpenes in any given strain is referred to as a “terpene profile”.  The terpenes work together with the cannabinoids (such as THC, CBD, CBG).  This “working together” process is referred to as an “entourage effect.”


So, you may find yourself liking one strain more than another because of its terpene profile and the entourage effect that the combination of the terpenes (terpene profile) along with the combination of cannabinoids,  has on your physiology.


If you really like  a strain, ask your dispensary agent to show you the lab test results to see the what terpenes are in the strain and at what levels/ratios  (and you’ll want to note the cannabinoid levels…but we’ll get to WTF is a cannabinoid later).



Basics of Terpenes

  • Effect the smell of cannabis
  • Effect the flavor of cannabis
  • Influence the effect of cannabis
  • 140 Terpenes found in cannabis
  • Each strain has a different “terpene profile” – combination of terpenes contained in the flower


Terpenes Effect on Receptors & Neurotransmitters

  • Act as serotonin uptake inhibitors (similar to antidepressants like Prozac)
  • Enhance norepinephrine activity (similar to tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil)
  • Increase dopamine activity
augment GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter that counters glutamate, the “upper”)

Common Terpenes

Some terpenes have been found to have medicinal benefits. That means, there are non-psychoactive compounds that can be used to safely treat an array of medical conditions. There are a ton of different terpenes in cannabis, but here are 11 you should know about.

  1. Limonene
  2. Myrcene
  3. Linalool
  4. Alpha Bisobolol
  5. Delta 3 Carene
  6. Borneol
  7. Alpha-Pinene / Beta-Pinene
  8. Eucalyptol
  9. Terpineol
  • Caryophyllene
  • Cineole



11 Most Common Terpenes and the effects

  1. Limonene

Flavor / Aroma: Citrus.

Medicinal Uses: promote weight loss, prevent and treat cancer, and treat bronchitis. It can also be used to make ointments and medicinal creams that penetrate the skin better.


  1. Myrcene

make ointments and medicinal creams that penetrate the skin better.

Flavor / Aroma: Earthy and musky with a hint of fruity flavors.
Medicinal Uses: Myrcene has been shown to be an effective anti inflammatory. It also works as a sedative and muscle relaxer. This could possible contribute to the tired/stoned feeling often attributed to indicas.


  1. Linalool

Flavor / Aroma: Floral with a hint of spice.

Medicinal Uses: Can be used as an anti-inflammatory. It also helps to modulate motor movements. Another

Note: In addition to cannabis, linalool can be found in an array of flowers, mint, cinnamon, and even some fungi.


  1. Alpha Bisabolol

Flavor / Aroma: Floral.

Medicinal Uses: Can be used to heal wounds, fights bacteria, and can be used a deodorizer. Research suggests alpha bisabolol has been effective in treating a variety of inflammations.

Note: also found in chamomile.


  1. Delta 3 Carene

Flavor / Aroma: Piney / earthy.

Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory. It is also known to dry fluids like tears, running noses, and menstrual flows.


  1. Borneol

Flavor / Aroma: Earthy and camphor.

Medicinal Uses: analgesic, anti-insomnia, anti-septic, and bronchodilator.



  1. Alpha-Pinene / Beta-Pinene

Flavor / Aroma: Pine.

Medicinal Uses: Pinene has been shown to have anti inflammatory properties.

Note: This is partially where pine trees get their scent from.


  1. Eucalyptol

Flavor / Aroma: Spicy.

Medicinal Uses: Eucalyptol is used in a variety of products including cough suppressants, mouthwash, and

body powder.
Note: Eucalyptol is used as a cooking spice and fragrance.


  1. Terpineol

Flavor / Aroma: Pine, clove.

Medicinal Uses: Studies suggest cannabis-extracted terpineol contains antioxidant properties.


  1. Caryophyllene

Flavor / Aroma: Hoppy.(Cannabis and hops used to make beer are basically cousins).

Medicinal Uses: Studies suggest that caryophyllene may help treat anxiety and depression.


  1. Cineole

Flavor / Aroma: Herbal.

Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, anti-nociceptive.



1 comment

  1. CP 13 August, 2018 at 22:30 Reply

    This is a great article! Terpenes are important to understand for selecting the right strain for the appropriate desired outcome. Thanks! Check out all thing cannabis & hemp at NEO420.com

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