Cannabis Terpenes – What Are They & Why Are They Important?

Most cannabis users, both those using the plant for recreational and those using it for medicinal purposes, will quickly fall in love in the fragrance of it. There’s something about it that’s both relaxing and exhilarating – sometimes sweet and mellow, and other times sour or even earthy, depending on the strain chosen. What they are smelling is not CBD or THC, or any of the other cannabinoids. Those smell-carrying compounds are terpenes – aromatic oils that give a number of plants (including cannabis) their often intoxicating smell. I already mentioned cannabis terpenes in a post discussing cannabinoids, noting there that they have far more important properties than just being responsible for the smell.

In fact, cannabis terpenes might just be what makes cannabis so beneficial to human health.

A growing body of scientific research indicates that terpenes act synergistically with cannabinoids, enhancing and amplifying their effect. In fact, a lot of those terpenes have proven medicinal properties themselves, which is why it’s important to take them into account in every cannabinoid-based therapy.

Where Are Terpenes Created & Why?

Every cannabis enthusiast has heard of trichomes – tiny resin glands of the cannabis plant that make quality buds potent and sticky. Trichomes are the plant’s factory – they are where THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are created. They are also responsible for the formation of terpenes.

As a plant compound, terpenes developed out of a biological necessity. Plants use them to repel predators and to lure in pollinators. The cannabis plant, specifically, can have over 100 different terpenes, however, different strains tend toward a unique terpene composition. For example, Jack Herer and Blue Dream strains are rich in alpha-pinene, while Odin 2 and Kosher Kush are rich in limonene. Genetics of the plant play a vital role in terpene development, along with age, weather, climate, fertilizers used, and more.

The Effects Of Cannabis Terpenes

Since there are many different terpenes in the nature (and we’ve just begun exploring their benefits), it’s not surprising that we have a long way to go until we can say with certainty how beneficial they are. However, there are numerous studies that confirm that individual terpenes have unique health effects.

Their differences are often subtle – many terpenes, for example, are known to affect the mood, and can be used to treat disorders such as anxiety or depression. However, the important thing for cannabis users (whether you’re using edibles, ground plant, tinctures, or oils), is the fact that terpenes seem to enhance our body’s interaction with different cannabinoids through a process called the entourage effect. In essence, they change their properties in contact with cannabinoids, and also change the properties of the said cannabinoids, often resulting in a more potent synergistic effect.

6 Major Terpenes In The Cannabis Plant


Exploring all the different cannabis terpenes in this one post would be a lengthy and complicated endeavour. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about many of them, and what we do know needs to be confirmed by replication studies.

However, there is a lot that we do know about the main ones so we will focus on them here. Terpenes such as pinene, limonene, myrcene, and others have occupied scientist for quite some time, and here’s what they have to say about them.

Alpha Pinene

Alpha pinene (often abbreviated α-pinene) is a terpene that gives certain cannabis strains a pine-like fragrance. It’s what gives pine forests their distinct, refreshing smell. Alpha pinene is a subject of intense research in medical circles. So far, scientists have found that it can inhibit cell growth of certain liver cancers, which means it can become a viable future treatment for those types of cancer. Also, several different studies found that pinene has substantial anti-inflammatory properties, and can be used to treat various inflammatory diseases. Alpha pinene vaporizes at 311 F (150 C).

Alpha Pinene Effects:

  • Promotes alertness
  • Boosts short-term memory
  • Counteracts mind-altering effects of THC

Medical Application:

  • Cancer cell growth inhibition
  • Ulcer treatment
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Pain relief
  • An anxiolytic

Can Be Found In:

  • Cannabis
  • Pine
  • Rosemary
  • Turpentine
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Orange peel

Myrcene

Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant, and it’s characterized by its earthy tone that has hints of muskiness and spice. It’s crucial in the formation of other terpenes but, more importantly, research links it to increased cannabinoid absorption by the brain. According to recent research conducted by Steep Hill Labs, myrcene can actually prolong the effects of cannabinoids – it’s been shown that eating mango, a fruit rich in myrcene, 45 minutes before taking cannabis, can accomplish this. Myrcene vaporizes at 332 F (167 C).

Myrcene Effects:

  • Promotes relaxation
  • Responsible for the ‘couch-lock’ feeling
  • Sedative effect

Medical Application:

  • Analgesic effect (reduces pain)
  • Prevents cell mutation (including cancer cells)
  • Slows bacterial growth
  • Reduces muscle spasms
  • Relieves symptoms of psychosis
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

Can Be Found In:

  • Cannabis
  • Mango
  • Thyme
  • Hops
  • Lemongrass

Limonene

Limonene is another terpene that’s well known in the medical circles for it’s great effects on the human body. Seeing how it’s most prevalent in citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime, and oranges, it’s responsible for that citrusy smell of certain cannabis strains. Limonene has been a subject of intense study for decades, and is thought to have anti-carcinogenic, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Limonene vaporizes at 348 F (176 C).

Limonene Effects:

  • Stress relief
  • Mood enhancer

Medical Application:

  • Treatment of depression
  • Treatment of acid reflux
  • Tissue cell regeneration
  • Anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Anxiolytic properties

Can Be Found In:

  • Cannabis
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Juniper
  • Rosemary

Beta-Caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene is a very specific terpen. In addition to being responsible for the unique spicy/peppery fragrance of some cannabis strains, it can also act as a cannabinoid. What this means is that BCP can act on cannabinoid receptors in the body, specifically the CB2 receptor usually associated with CBD and THC. Abundant in cannabis, pepper, cloves, and cinnamon, beta-caryophyllene has been found to have an analgesic effect in mice. Although more research is needed, it might turn into a THC substitute for patients that need to be fully functional after medicating. Additionally, it can potentially be used to treat anxiety and depression. Caryophyllene vaporizes at 266 F (130 C).

Beta-Caryophyllene Effects:

  • Stress relief
  • Mood elevation

Medical Application:

  • Pain treatment
  • Anti-anxiety properties
  • Anti-depressive
  • Effective at ulcer treatment

Can Be Found In:

  • Cannabis
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon

Linalool

Linalool might sound funny, but it’s most likely responsible that keeps you coming back to cannabis. It’s distinctly floral in fragrance and gives lavender it’s hallmark smell. That is why it’s used extensively by the perfume and cosmetics industries. Studies have shown that linalool can be successful in blocking pain and acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Linalool vaporizes at 388 F (198 C).

Linalool Effects:

  • Mood enhancement
  • Couch-lock feel
  • Sedation

Medical Application:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Anti-depressant
  • Neuro protector
  • Analgesic
  • Effective as insomnia treatment
  • Anxiolytic

Can Be Found In:

  • Cannabis
  • Indian bay leaf
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Goldenrods

Humulene

Humulene is yet another staple terpene of most cannabis strains. Most abundant in plants such as hops, coriander, cloves, ginger, sage, and basil, humulene is responsible for that biting taste all of this plants are known for. Humulene has very strong antibacterial properties, and is frequently found in many herbal medicine remedies – Chinese natural healers have been using it for centuries without even knowing it, as it’s well-represented in pepper and ginseng. Humulene, through its interactions with other terpenes and cannabinoids, has been shown to have strong antitumor properties, as well. Humulene vaporizes at 222 F (106 C).

Humulene Effects:

  • Appetite suppressant

Medical Application:

  • Antitumor properties
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial

Can Be Found In:

  • Cannabis
  • Hops
  • Sage
  • Coriander
  • Basil
  • Ginseng

Cannabis Terpenes & Broad Spectrum CBD Oils

In the past, to enjoy the full benefits of cannabis terpenes, you had to smoke or vaporize dry herb, and with it any amount of THC that it contained. Of course, this is not ideal for patients who do not want to be exposed to THC’s psychoactive effect (or should not be, legally speaking). Luckily, those times are long gone. Thanks to innovative ways of CBD oil production, it’s now possible to opt for CBD oils infused with terpenes and other cannabinoids, but not containing THC. One of your options is Calm Vape’s thoroughly tested CBD oils that comes loaded with strain specific terpenes.

To learn more about our CBD oil (or cannabis terpenes you will be enjoying with it), leave a comment or contact us. We will be more than happy to answer all your questions!

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