Updated: Aug 25, 2020
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are excreted from the same glands that produce THC and CBD. They are responsible for the aromatic smells and flavors that are produced by cannabis (alongside plant alcohol esters). These volatile chemicals are also responsible for what we refer to as the entourage effect. These smells range from pine, lemon and citrus to gassy, earthy and skunky (and everywhere in between). Terpenes are abundand in fruits and vegetables that we consume every day, as well as in essential oils used for aromatherapy and many other uses.
Terpenes are known both for their smell as well as their medicinal benefits. Some provide relaxation, stress relief, anti-bacterial and many other beneficial uses. While more scientific research needs to be done to prove the effectiveness of these terpenes, it is widely accepted that these compounds greatly influence the effects brought on when consuming cannabis.
Most Common Terpenes
Myrcene is one of the most prevalent terpenes in cannabis strains. It provides users with a musky,
citrusy, herbal smell and flavor. The effects of Myrcene are generally sedative, relaxing and enhance the potency of THC. You can find Myrcene in Mango, Thyme and Lemon Grass. It is a good anti-bacterial as well as being good for inflammation and anti-fungal uses. Myrcene has a relatively low boiling point of 334°F.
Caryophyllene is another terpene that is highly prominent in cannabis. It has a peppery, woody, spice smell and taste to it. Caryophyllene does not bring forward any noticeable physical effects, however it is good for inflammation as well as an anti-bacterial and good for pain, insomnia and muscle spasms. You can find Caryophyllene in pepper, hops and oregano. Caryophyllene has a relatively low boiling point as well of 320°F.
Limonene, another common terpene in cannabis, widely available in many strains. It brings a citrusy, lemony, orange scent and taste to the table. Limonene is known to have both euphoric and stress relieving properties. You can find Limonene in citrus rinds, peppermint and Juniper. Limonene has a mid-range boiling point of 349°F.
Humulene is a personal favorite of mine. It carries pleasant earthy and woody scents and flavors. Humulene works as an appetite suppressant as well as being great for inflammation, pain and its anti-bacterial properties. Humulene is a common terpene found in hops and corriander. It has a higher boiling point of 388°F.
Pinene is another very common terpene in cannabis. With the providing a taste and smell that is sharp, sweet and piney, it is generally a rather enjoyable profile to consume. Pinene is great for mental acuity as well as memory retention. It can be fantastic in treating patients with inflammation. You can find pinene in connifers, sage and of course pine needles. Pinenen has a relatively low boiling point of 311°F.
Linalool is the final one on our list of the most common terpenes in cannabis. It has a floral, citrusy, spicey taste and smell to it. Linalool is know to produce both sedative and relaxing effects. This makes it a fantastic terpene when treating a patient with stress, anxiety, depression and pain. You can find Linalool in Lavender, Citrus and Rosewood. It has a a fairly high boiling point of 388°F.
Now that we've identified the most common terpenes, let's learn a little more about how Terpenes affect our system. To make a direct quote from Greg Green's "The Cannabis Grow Bible: 3rd Edition":
"The endocannabinoid (system) and TRP (Transient Receptor Potential) channels have a signaling overlap in their identification attributes, which include recognizing natural terpenes. This intersection constitutes what is likely to be the physiological link between terpenes and our cannabinoiid receptor system, which means this is one way in which combining terpenes with THC produces different effects."
On a side note, if you are looking to grow cannabis and just have a deeper understanding about the plant, concentrates, edibles and more, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book at your local book store!
Less Common Terpenes
Bisabolol is a less common terpene in cannabis, though it has been gaining some attention recently. It has an enjoyable floral aroma and flavor. It can be found in Chamomile flowers. Though more common in the cosmetic industry, Bisabolol has fantastic anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties. Bisabolol has a very low boiling point of 307.4°F.
Eucalyptol, another less common terpene in cannabis, has been gaining interest in the scientific community as well. This terpene is the primary terpene in Eucalyptus trees. It has a minty and cool taste and smell to it, though it is present in very very small amounts in cannabis. Early research has shown that potential in being effective in treating Alzheimer's patients, though there is much more research that needs to be done on it. Its main benefits are pain relief and inhibiting bacterial and fungal growth. Eucalyptol has a mid-range boiling point of 342°F.
Nerolidol is an interesting terpene found in some strains of cannabis. It provides a scent and taste of citrus, woody and spicy. It can commonly be found in things like jasmine, tea tree oil and lemon grass. It is most widely known for its antioxidant, antifungal, anticancer and antimicrobial properties. Nerolidol has an extremely low boiling point of 252°F.
Delta 3 Carene is another terpene with some fantastic potential benefits. With a taste and smell resembling a Cypress Tree, it carries a sweetness to it. Though its primary benefits is in healing bones, it has sparked interest in its capabilities with memory retention and stimulation. There are hopes for its potential in the effort to cure Alzheimer's. Delta 3 Carene's boiling point is 338°F.
Camphene is often mistaken for Myrcene due to its scent and flavors of fir needles, earthy notes and woodiness. Medicinally speaking, when mixed with Vitamin C it becomes a powerful anti-oxidant. It is already used quite often in pharmaceuticals for eczema and psoriasis. It also has shown great potential in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Camphene can be found in Sage Oil and Ginger Oil. It's boiling point is relatively low at 318°F.
There are many, many more terpenes that are contained withing cannabis, and as research continues to come out, we learn about more and more potential benefits of this plant. We will update this guide as we learn more in the future!