Terpenes are the aromatic oils that give many flowers, herbs and fruits their distinctive aromas, and they can be found in more than two hundred unique varieties. Terpenes have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and many have anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, antimicrobial, and anti-cancer properties. There are many different sources for these powerful compounds, including essential oils, plants, and cannabis.

Terpenes are the aromatic oils found in plants that impact our mood, our senses, and our physical health. Though they are often thought of as only found in flowers or essential oils, terpenes are actually found in all living things. Some are found in foods, some in our brains, and some in our bodies. There are over 500 known terpenes.

word-image-2994 In addition to the common cannabis terms such as cannabinoid, indica and sativa, you may have recently come across a less common word: Terpenes. This is another compound found in cannabis. But what are terpenes? And how important is it to know the types and concentrations in cannabis before you buy it? Read on to find out what researchers know so far.


Terpenes are natural chemical compounds found in plants and some animals. They are responsible for the aromas, flavours and even colours associated with different types of vegetation. As with cannabis, it is the terpenes that give some varieties a different smell or taste than others. They can also be recycled to make products such as cleaning products, pesticides and dyes. Some even have medicinal properties. Although almost all plants contain terpenes, some of the most common sources in which people encounter them are the following:

  • Cannabis
  • aromatic herbs such as sage and thyme
  • Citrus


Terpenes are believed to protect plants from harsh weather conditions and predators. What they do in the human body remains a mystery. However, researchers and cannabis users are increasingly interested in terpenes as a way of classifying cannabis products and predicting their effects. The premise is that the terpene profile – the dominant terpenes – of the strains work together with the cannabinoid content – the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids – to produce the effects that people associate with the different strains. For example, they can explain why two different strains with the same THC content cause such different sensations.


Terpenes will not get you high in the traditional sense. However, some are considered psychoactive because they affect the brain. Although terpenes themselves do not cause a high, some believe they can influence the effects of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the high of cannabis. Many cannabis connoisseurs and budtenders say that users place too much emphasis on THC content when choosing a strain. Instead, they recommend paying more attention to specific terpene profiles to achieve the desired effect. For example, preliminary research suggests that certain terpenes may have beneficial effects on certain mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.


THC and CBD are only two of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, but they are the two most common and most studied cannabinoids. Cannabinoids and terpenes can give you an indication of what to expect from a cannabis product, but they are two different compounds. At the same time, they all interact with each other in a way that experts call the ambience effect. It is hypothesized that the entire cannabis spectrum, including all cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds present in cannabis, work synergistically to induce the sensations and effects of cannabis. In other words, it’s the assumption that a little bit of something can do more good than a lot of something alone. For example, a 2010 study showed that a combination of CBD and THC was more effective at relieving pain than THC alone. In a 2018 study by Trusted Source, breast cancer tumors in a petri dish responded better to cannabis extract than to pure THC alone. However, it has been suggested that these synergistic effects are primarily due to other cannabinoids and not terpenes. It is important to keep this in mind when using CBD for therapeutic purposes. If you are using a CBD isolate (a product containing only CBD) and find that it is not having the desired effect, it may be worth trying a full-spectrum CBD product that also contains terpenes and other cannabinoids, including a small amount of THC. About 400 terpenes are known to occur in cannabis, but experts have associated only a few with specific effects. Here are some common terpenes and their possible effects:

  • Beta-caryophyllene. The main ingredient of cloves, rosemary and hops, beta-caryophyllene, can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Beta-pinene. If you’ve ever walked through a coniferous forest, you know the smell of beta-pinene, which may have antidepressant and cancer-fighting properties.
  • Humongous. This terpene is present in ginseng, which has long been used in folk medicine for its stimulating effects.
  • Limes. Limonene, one of the most common terpenes, has a distinct citrus note and may have cancer-fighting properties. Trusted Sourceto has been shown to have anxiety-inhibiting properties in mice.
  • Linalool. Lavender lovers should check out cannabis linalool in aromatherapy, which Trusted Source says can help relieve stress.
  • Mirzen. The myrcene in mango has antifungal and antibacterial properties and may also have a calming effect.

Remember that terpene research is still in its infancy. More qualitative studies in humans are needed to fully understand the effects of different terpene profiles on human health.


Want to start learning about terpenes? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Read the label. Some laboratory-tested brands of cannabis list the terpene profile (often the three most common terpenes) and the concentration in the product (usually around 2%).
  • Check for freshness. Terpene concentrations can decrease over time, so look for products with a recent packaging date. When you choose a flower, smell it if you can. You want something fragrant (indicating high terpene content), not something stale.
  • Be careful with cannabis oil. Synthetic terpenes are often added to oil-based vaping products. It is not known if synthetic terpenes are less effective than natural terpenes, but they are commonly used to make solvents and other household chemicals. Be careful and beware of marketing materials that make promises about what they will do.
  • Do not heat. According to Trusted Source, there is evidence that high-temperature dabbing can break down synthetic terpenes and produce potentially dangerous byproducts. Until experts understand how heat affects terpenes, stick to spraying flowers or eating food at low temperatures.
  • Keep a diary. If you try different terpene profiles, pay attention to how you take them and how you feel. Over time, this will help you determine the best terpene profile to achieve the desired effect.


Terpenes play an important role in the aroma and taste of cannabis varieties. And they can potentially work synergistically with cannabinoids and other compounds in the cannabis plant to produce psychoactive effects. But research into the more than 400 terpenes present in the plant is still in its infancy, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about them. It is also important to note that in addition to cannabinoids and terpenes, your physiology, previous experience with cannabis, and the environment in which you consume it can also affect how you feel. Terpenes are only part of the equation, but they can be an interesting way to play with different products and find out what you prefer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the deal with terpenes?

Terpenes are a class of organic compounds found in plants, essential oils, and other natural sources. Terpenes can be found in over 600 different plants, and have been utilized for centuries in perfumes, essential oils, and medicines. A terpene is a hydrocarbon molecule that consists of a hydroxy group (–OH) bonded to a five-carbon ring. A terpene is a hydrocarbon molecule that consists of a hydroxy group (–OH) bonded to a five-carbon ring. Terpenes are found in over 600 different plants, and have been utilized for centuries in perfumes, essential oils, and medicines. There are approximately 85,000 terpenes, their specific function and chemical properties are not well understood. Terpenes are present in every living organism, but are not thought to affect the body in any significant way. However, terpenes are present in essential oils and are sometimes used as fragrances.

Do terpenes get u high?

The terpene content of marijuana can vary by strain and you don’t have to be a bud expert to smoke the perfect strain. All you have to do is find a strain that has the right amount of terpenes to produce the desired effects for whatever ailment you are treating. So, what is the “right” amount of terpenes, anyway? There is no single number that will work for everyone, but the ideal terpene profile for a strain will help you feel more relaxed, more awake and clear headed. You may have heard of cannabis, but what about terpenes? What are they exactly? In this blog post, we’ll discuss the unique benefits of terpenes and how they can help you live a healthier life.

Are terpenes good or bad?

Terpenes, a group of compounds that are found in plants, have been shown to have a positive effect on the body, and can have a wide range of health benefits. Terpenes work by affecting the endocannabinoid system, a system that is found in every cell in the human body that plays a role in mood and several other bodily processes. The reason why these processes are affected by terpenes is because they bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which in turn affects various bodily functions, from increased energy to pain relief. Terpenes are a group of compounds found in plants, including cannabis, that give them their distinct smell, flavor, and effects. Terpenes are also found in essential oils, which are often used to flavor perfumes and other products. Both terpenes and essential oils are used therapeutically, but the difference between the two is that terpenes are found naturally in the plants, while essential oils are synthetic.

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