You are already familiar with terpenes because you have been exposed to them throughout your life; in other words, terpenes are what give an orange its characteristic citrusy smell. They also lend pine trees their unique aroma and are even responsible for the relaxing effects of lavender (Linalool Odor-Induced Anxiolytic Effects in Mice, Hiroki Harada).

But wait – you probably thought that cannabinoids were the compounds in cannabis or industrial hemp plants that caused healing, right? While this is true, it has also been discovered that terpenes can play a big role in this process as well. Cannabinoids and Terpenes work together in something called the Entourage Effect.

The Entourage Effect means that Cannabinoids like THC and CBD, along with the hundreds of other compounds, along with the Terpenes, are meant to work together. The whole plant does the best job, not just a single compound. While relief does come from using a CBD oil or a THC oil, whole plant therapy has been the most common use. Utilizing all the compounds and Terpenes in the plant may just be the best way after all. Terpenes are produced by all plants, not just cannabis. However, cannabis plants produce a greater variety of terpenes than any other plant genus.

So, what are terpenes? Keep reading to find out more about these fascinating compounds and their potential benefits!

At the moment, there are at least 20,000 different terpenes in existence and the Cannabis or Industrial Hemp plants have more than 100 of these terpenes. However, there are a couple of terpenes that are in high concentrations in Cannabis and Industrial Hemp plants. Here are the ones to know:

Myrcene terpene

Myrcene, which is also present in mangoes, is the most common terpene found in Cannabis plants. In fact, some plants might have up to 65 percent myrcene in their terpene profile. Myrcene often determines whether a particular strain is an indica or sativa. Plants with more than 0.5 percent myrcene are classified as indica.

Myrcene possesses relaxing properties in addition to anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic properties, as explored further in the article “Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory, anti-catabolic and pro-anabolic effects of E-caryophyllene, myrcene and limonene in a cell model of osteoarthritis” by Ana Teresa Rufino and others.


Limonene terpene

Limonene, the second most common terpene in cannabis, can also be found in different citrus fruits. It is responsible for the citrus smell. However, it may not be found in all Cannabis strains. Limonene possesses potent anti-fungal (as stated in an article by Nengguo Tao in “Food chemistry) and antibacterial properties (supported by research conducted by Yingjie Han), and its marvellous smell led to its common use as an additive in household cleaning and cosmetic products. Additionally, animal studies have shown that Limonene can help to relieve stress and improve mood.


Pinene terpene

Pinene is most commonly found in pine trees, and it is what gives pine needles their unique smell. There are two varieties of pinene: alpha, which is responsible for the wonderful pine aroma, and beta, which has a scent like rosemary, dill, or parsley. Pinene is a strong bronchodilator, and according to an article by Zhao Y., it was concluded that data strongly suggest that alpha-pinene inhibits prostate cancer growth in a xenograft model. This suggests that pinene may be an effective therapeutic agent for prostate cancer treatment. Pinene also has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects that have been used for centuries in herbal medicines.

Linalool terpene

If you’re familiar with the relaxant effects of lavender, then you know about the terpene linalool. Linalool is well-known for its stress-relieving, anti-anxiety (“Effects of inhaled Linalool in anxiety, social interaction and aggressive behavior in mice” by V.M.Linck and others), and anti-depressant (by Silvia Laura Guzmán-Gutiérrez and others in Life sciences) effects.  The terpene linalool can help nullify the anxious side effects sometimes brought about by THC, making it an excellent choice for the treatment of anxiety.

Caryophyllene terpene

This terpene has a spicy, woody, peppery scent and is also found in black pepper and cinnamon. Studies suggest that it can effectively treat anxiety, depression and inflammation (article by Eun-SangHwang in Behavioural Brain Research).


Humulene terpene

While other strains of cannabis increase appetite, which can be helpful for those who suffer from conditions that cause nausea or loss of appetite, strains that contain humulene may help to decrease appetite. Found in hops, cloves, and basil, humulene has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in research. The results of Atiqur Rahman and others suggest that it may have potential use as a preservative or antimicrobial agent in the food, pharmaceutical and/or agro-industries.

Cannabis or Industrial Hemp comprises of around 100 terpenes, each with its own effects. Combined with other Cannabinoids and terpenes, the future of Cannabis might lie in breeding strains rich in certain terpenes and Cannabinoids to create strains that generate certain effects.