What Are Cannabis Terpenes?

March 28, 2022

cannabis leafThere are a variety of cannabis terms that you commonly hear nowadays ranging from Indica and Sativa to cannabinoid and terpenes. In this article, we will be taking a deeper look into what terpenes are and how they contribute to the aromas, flavors, and overall profile of specific strains of cannabis.

What Are Cannabis Terpenes?

Terpenes are compounds that are actually found throughout nature in different plants other than just cannabis. Terpenes are responsible for the color, texture, aroma, and other unique characteristics of the many millions of plants out there. Terpenes can even be converted into certain products such as cleaning solutions, pesticides, and dyes. Some of these can have therapeutic benefits for people such as calming and pain-relieving properties.

The most common source of terpenes in nature, however, comes from a select few types of plants, with cannabis being one of these. The other include citrus fruits as well as fragrant herbs such as sage and thyme.

What Do Terpenes Do?

The first thing that researchers discovered about terpenes is that they are in place to protect plants from insects as well as severe weather conditions. Overall, however, their main function is still a bit of a mystery to researchers, as the effects they really have on humans is still being studied.

In cannabis plants the dominant terpenes of a strain work in tandem with the cannabinoid content to produce the effects that are commonly associated with the different strains. These are often determined in ratios between total THC and CBD content, as well as the percentage of different terpenes present in the cannabis. This helps to explain why certain strains with very high THC percentages may still have different effects than specific terpenes, regardless of the THC percentage.

One of the most common myths is that terpenes are what get you high – and this is just not true!

While terpenes aren’t intoxicating on their own, some believe that the terpenes do play a role in determining the overall effects of the cannabis strain, or in other words, the type of high that is experienced. It is now being recommended by budtenders that smokers pay more attention to the terpene profile associated with cannabis rather than the THC percentage, as this is more indicative of the experience you will have with that particular strain.

How Terpenes Relate To THC And CBD

The main point to understand here is that each cannabis strain is made up of either all three of these or more commonly, of THC and terpenes. There is what is known as the “entourage effect”, which refers to the notion that the effects of any strain of cannabis are determined by the combination of THC as well as the complete terpene profile. All of these compounds, as well as others, work synergistically to create the effects of the strains you know and love, both Indica, and Sativa. The gassy odors and the deep flavor profile are all results of the combination of THC and specific terpene profiles.

Common Terpenes And Their Effects

Understanding the most common and popular terpenes found in certain strains can help you when selecting new strains at the dispensary and give you a better idea of what effects to expect.

These include:


Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene that is thought to be beneficial for managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also is readily found in other herbs such as cloves, rosemary, and hops.


Limonene is an aromatic cannabis terpene. It’s commonly associated with fruity, citrus aromas, and it’s found in many everyday items like fruit rinds, cosmetics, and cleaning products. This terpene is highly sought after due to its purported anti-cancer properties as well as its ati-anxiety effects.


myrcene chemical formulaMyrcene is a terpene commonly found in hops. It is thought to be responsible for the peppery, spicy, balsam fragrance you pick up in certain types of beer. It’s also found in lemongrass, which has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries. Myrcene has been found to have antifungal as well as antibacterial properties.

Overall, terpenes play a critical role in determining the overall effects of certain strains of cannabis, and they even provide unique health benefits and relaxing/antidepressant effects as well. Terpenes work synergistically with other compounds in cannabis to bring you the effects, aromas, and health benefits that you have come to love in your favorite strains. Keep an eye out for new terpenes and understand that the more you know, the better you will understand the strains you partake in.

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