All About Terpenes!

What is a terpene?

A terpene is an organic compound that occurs naturally in many plants, particularly citrus and conifers, as well as some insects. Terpenes are highly aromatic components of a plant's essential oils and a major constituent of natural resin.

What do terpenes do for the plant?

Terpenes form an integral part of the plant's defenses against insects, herbivores, infections, excess fluid loss, and other functions. The cannabis plant produces terpenes in the same trichome resin glands in which the cannabinoids are produced. 

What do terpenes do for humans?

In addition to the cannabinoid profile, the terpenes within a cannabis plant have a profound effect on the consumer and their medicinal benefit. Terpenes contribute to the aroma and flavors of a particular cannabis cultivar, and each terpene has its own list of benefits and contributions to the synergistic nature of the plant's chemistry. Terpenes influence cannabis experience in a similar way to how many people report different types of alcoholic spirits causing slightly different types of intoxication (i.e. whiskey vs. tequila)

Most Common Terpenes:

  • Caryophyllene

  • Humulene

    • Commonly found in: Hops (humulus lupulus), pine trees, spearmint, ginseng, ginger, cannabis
    • Profile: Earthy, woodsy, floral aromas and flavors; similar to a "hoppy" beer
    • Potential Benefits: Anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, appetite suppressant, and antibacterial
  • Limonene

    • Commonly found in: Citrus rinds, juniper, rosemary, peppermint, cannabis
    • Profile: Citrus notes, such as grapefruit and lemon
    • Potential Benefits: Mood elevator, stress reliever, antibacterial and antifungal; Potential to relieve heartburn/GERD and inhibiting certain cancer growth
  • Linalool

    • Commonly found in: Lavender, laurels, peanuts, rosewood, birch, and some fungi
    • Profile: Sweet and spicy floral notes
    • Potential Benefits: Antimicrobial, antiepileptic, antidepressant, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, pesticide and insect repellent. 
  • Myrcene

    • Commonly found in: Bay leaves, wild thyme, parsley and cardamom
    • Profile: Woodsy, spicy and sweet amber notes
    • Potential Benefits: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagen (DNA protectant); muscle relaxant and possible sleep aid
  • Ocimene

    • Commonly found in: Mangos, kumquats, basil, orchids
    • Profile: Sweet, floral, slightly fruity note
    • Potential Benefits: Suppressing the immune system's inflammatory response, reducing high blood pressure, blocking certain compounds which contribute to Type-2 Diabetes, antioxidant
  • Pinene

    • Commonly found in: Pine trees, conifers, rosemary, dill, basil and camphorweed
    • Profile: Pine, spice and occasionally a sweeter, floral note
    • Potential Benefits: Bronchodilator (opening constricted airways), anti-inflammatory; counteracts short-ter memory loss frequently reported as a THC side-effect; Often produced stimulating, mood-boosting effects in many consumers
  • Terpinolene

    • Commonly found in: Apples, cumin, nutmeg, tea tree, lilac
    • Profile: Floral and fruity aroma and flavor, but sometimes presents a woodsy, smoky under-note
    • Potential Benefits: Mild sedative, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and insect repellent


Featured infographic courtesy of Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.