What Are Terpenes and How Do They Work? – Cannabis 101

What Are Terpenes and How Do They Work?

Terpenes are fragrant compounds that are present in a wide variety of plants; however, due to the high terpene content of cannabis plants, they are most frequently associated with cannabis.

Many plants, including cannabis, pine, lavender, and fresh orange peel, as well as these fragrant chemicals, give forth their own scents. Terpene mixtures are what give most plants their scent. In the wild, these terpenes shield plants against grazing animals and contagious pathogens.

Terpenes, however, might also provide the human body with certain health advantages. More research is being done on these potential advantages as cannabis restrictions grow less restrictive.

To find out more about terpenes in general and about their potential health advantages, continue reading.

What Distinguishes Them from Cannabinoids?


  • Cannabis contains chemical substances called cannabinoids.
  • The body’s endocannabinoid system is activated by cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The “high” that cannabis users experience is brought on by this.
  • Another cannabinoid that is gaining popularity for its therapeutic effects is cannabidiol (CBD). Although CBD interacts with some of the same receptors as THC, it does so in a different way and has no euphoric effects.
  • Although THC and CBD are two of the most well-known cannabinoids, the cannabis plant contains over 100 other cannabinoids in total.
  • Terpenes, which are among the most prevalent substances in the natural world, are also found in the cannabis plant.
  • The majority of plant and certain animal molecules smell because of terpenes. However, some may also have similar effects to cannabinoids in the body’s endocannabinoid system. The primary distinction is how these substances are absorbed and utilized by the body.

Are Terpenes Able to Effect People?

Several terpenes are bioactive, which implies they could have an impact on the body. The concentration of the terpene itself and the user’s method of use will determine how this impact changes.


Terpenes are the primary component of many essential oils and play a key role in a variety of complementary therapies, including aromatherapy, due to the bright scents they generate. A person’s mood and level of stress may be affected by inhaling the aromas of particular plants and essential oils.

Terpenes are thought by some to influence or improve the euphoria that comes from cannabis use. The entourage effectTrusted Source suggests that terpenes increase or modify the physiological effects of THC and CBD.

These claims are supported by some research. For instance, a study published in Frontiers in Neurology (Reliable Source) discovered that individuals with epilepsy who took an extract high in CBD experienced less adverse effects and improved symptoms compared to those who received purified CBD. This implies that other cannabis constituents, such as terpenes, may influence how the body utilizes CBD.

Isolated terpenes themselves have undergone a great deal of medical research, and some may even find utility in medicine. Many terpenes have shown positive effects on the body and may be used as complementary or alternative medicines, according to a study published in Chemico-Biological Interactions.

Effects of Typical Terpenes

Although there are 400 identified terpenes in cannabis, only a small number of them have been associated with particular effects.


Here are a few typical terpenes and some possible effects:

Beta-caryophyllene. Beta-caryophyllene, a key component of hops, rosemary, and cloves, may be useful for treating anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Beta-pinene. If you’ve ever taken a stroll through a coniferous forest, you’re familiar with the scent of beta-pinene, which may also have anti-cancer and anti-depressant properties. properties from Trusted Sources.

Humulene. This terpene can be found in ginseng, a plant long used in folk medicine for its energizing properties.

Limonene. Limonene, one of the most widely distributed terpenes, has distinct citrus undertones and may have anti-cancer qualities. It has been demonstrated in mice that Trusted Source has anti-anxiety properties.

Linalool. Linalool-containing cannabis may be of interest to those who enjoy using lavender in aromatherapy since it may help reduce tension.

Myrcene. Myrcene, which is found in mangoes, has antifungal and antibacterial activities and may also have sedative effects.

Making the Most of The Benefits

Start learning about terpenes if you’re curious. Consider the following advice:


Consult the label. A few cannabis brands that have undergone testing in laboratories include the product’s concentrations and terpene profiles, which are frequently the three most common terpenes (usually a number that sits around 2 percent).

For freshness, be sure. The content of terpenes might decrease over time, so search for goods with a recent packaging date. Sniff it if you can if you’re going with flower. It should not be stale; instead, it should be aromatic (a sign of high terpene concentration).

Cannabis oil should be used with care. The use of synthetic terpenes to oil-based vaping products is common. Synthetic terpenes are frequently used to make solvents and other household chemicals, however, it is unclear if they work less effectively than natural ones. Be cautious while moving forward and be suspicious of advertising that makes bold claims about their abilities.

Put the heat on hold. There is some evidence trusted Sources that dabbing, which uses high heat, could cause the degradation of synthetic terpenes, producing potentially hazardous byproducts. You may want to stick with vaping flowers at a low temperature or eating edibles until researchers have a better understanding of how heat affects terpenes.

Maintain a journal. Keep track of your method of consumption and how you feel as you experiment with various terpene profiles. This will eventually enable you to determine which terpene profile will produce the desired results.

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