Terpenes | What are they?

September 08, 2022

Terpenes are becoming more and more important to the effects of cannabis. These tiny molecules with big effects have become a hot topic in US states where cannabis is legal, and consumers of all levels are starting to take notice.

Farmers have begun to have their cannabis flower tested to see what kinds and how much terpenes are in it. More than ever before, these compounds are being listed on the labels of edibles, tinctures, and vaporizer cartridges. But what are terpenes, and why are they so important to the effects of cannabis?

Many people might not know that cannabis terpenes are a big part of how the plant works and what it does for you. Cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) also help, but they are not the only ones. In fact, terpenes change the effects of these chemicals by interacting with them. A strain’s terpene content or profile is just as important as the cannabinoids if you want to get the most out of it. Terpenes show how different cannabis chemovars, which used to be called strains, really are.

In this article, we’ll learn about how people use Cannabis and how different terpenes affect them.

What do Terpenes Mean?

“Terpenes” is an umbrella term for a wide range of secondary chemical compounds that cannabis and almost all other plants on Earth make. A “secondary” compound is one that a plant makes as a byproduct to help support the production of its “primary” compounds.

Sometimes these are fruits, sometimes, they are flowers, and in the case of cannabis, the primary compounds are the cannabinoids we like to use, like THC and CBD. Terpenes are secondary compounds in cannabis that help the plant grow in a healthy way. Terpenes have a lot of different effects on bacteria, fungus, insects, abnormal cell growth, and other sources of stress that affect the plant.

Terpenes are also what give different plants their unique smells and flavors. If you think back to your high school biology classes, you may remember that smells and tastes that animals find appealing make them more likely to spread a plant’s seeds and pollen, which helps the species grow and reproduce. So, these terpenes not only keep away animals that could hurt the plant but also attract animals that can live in harmony with the plant.

What effect do Terpenes have on humans who consume cannabis?

Cannabinoids have very strong effects on both our mental and physical states. Terpenes, on the other hand, have effects that are much more subtle, especially when it comes to how they affect our minds. So, while THC can make you feel euphoric to the point of being silly or giggly, a terpene that usually lifts your mood, like Limonene or Pinene,, is more likely to have lighter effects, more like the energy boost you get when you clean the house or take a short walk in the woods.

Some people compare the effects of terpenes and cannabinoids to the parts of your car that make it run. THC, CBD, and other minor cannabinoids are like the engine parts that give you the power to move. They do most of the work, and the amount of them in a cannabis product is usually a good indicator of how strong the experience will be.

In this car analogy, terpenes are like the steering wheel and other parts that control how the car moves and where it goes. They mostly determine whether the experience will be uplifting, relaxing, or any of the many other unique and different experiences that cannabis can give us. Because of this, it’s important to know how different terpenes affect you individually if you want your cannabis products to give you the most predictable, repeatable, and desirable experiences.

what are cannabis terpenes

Effects of Different Terpenes

Each of cannabis’ six main terpenes has different benefits. Understanding terpenes might help you choose the best strain.


Myrcene is a cannabis and hop terpene. Lemongrass, mango, and thyme contain this pungent, musky terpene. This terpene is anti-inflammatory and antimutagenic. The effects include pain alleviation, insomnia treatment, and DNA protection from external chemicals that may cause cancer.

Myrcene improves cannabinoid brain crossing, boosting THC’s effects.


Pinene is one of the most investigated cannabis terpenes and comes in alpha- and beta-pinene. Citrusy, peppery, and earthy describe these terpenes. Beta-pinene smells like pine needles and rosemary, while alpha-pinene smells like basil, dill, parsley, and hops. This popular terpene boosts energy, improves mental focus, acts as a bronchodilator, reduces inflammation, fights cancer, and is antiseptic and antiviral. Limonene Limonene provides oranges and lemons with their distinctive aroma. It reduces inflammation, stress, depression, pain, nausea, hunger, and is anticarcinogenic, antifungal, and antibacterial.


Linalool scents like lavender and birch. This terpene appears in over 200 plants, including coriander, so you’ve probably consumed it before. This terpene reduces inflammation, has anti-epileptic, antibacterial, and mosquito-repellent effects.


Humulene is earthy, pungent, and woody. Its scent resembles pepper, cloves, ginger, and sage. This terpene may have appetite-suppressing, wound-healing, inflammation-reducing, pain-relieving (analgesic), bacteria-fighting, and anti-proliferative or anti-cancer activities.


Hops, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and rosemary contain pungent caryophyllene. This terpene reduces inflammation (particularly from arthritis), balances glucose levels (for diabetics), inhibits cancer activity, and relieves pain, tension, depression, and anxiety.

Bottom Line

Many terpenes have been shown to help with things like inflammation, nausea, pain, sleep disorders, seizures, cancer cell growth, asthma, and so on. There is still a lot to learn about how each terpene affects our bodies and different diseases, and there are way too many terpenes in cannabis (a hundred that we know of!). If you want to stay healthy and avoid getting any of these diseases.

Try Nela Rd. Nela Rd. is your local cannabis retailer in Highland Park that prioritizes convenience. We aim to make the process of purchasing cannabis as simple as possible.

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