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What Are Cannabis Terpenes And Why Are They Important?

Jun 6, 2017 | Education, Health

It hasn’t been until recently that the cannabis community has started taking note of terpenes. Usually, we are busy with focusing on cannabinoid profiles, such as THC & CBD, to tell us what type of high we’re going to experience. The cannabis community continues to evolve and deepen its general understanding about what makes cannabis give you a specific medical effect or overall experience.

What exactly do we need to know about terpenes? What are they and why are they suddenly starting to become important?

What Is a Terpene & Why Is It in My Cannabis?

A terpene is what gives plants their fragrant and aromatic diversity. When you smell sweet blueberries or a deep pine needle scent, what you’re actually smelling are terpenes. There are six main terpenes we will discuss in depth below. In short, terpenes are what provide the basics of how your nose experiences the bud. And since taste is between 75 – 95% smell, terpenes also play a large role in how it tastes.

Most people generally know that cannabis has a LOT of different chemicals compounds and variations of cannabinoids. Specifically, there are well over 500 chemicals (THC, CBD, CVN, CBG, etc). But what most of us are unaware of, even those who have been partaking for several years, are that importance of terpenes and the overall value they add to the experience of the plant.

Interestingly, terpenes are not specific and unique to the cannabis plant. In fact, terpenes are found throughout the ENTIRE plant kingdom. They are found in everything from mangos & hops to peppermint & lavender. They are so widespread that there might be more terpenes in your cannabis than there are cannabinoids.

Do Terpenes Get Me High? What Practical Function Do They Serve?

Terpenes by themselves don’t necessarily get you high. What they do is enhance your high by supporting the various cannabinoids to bind with your cannabinoid receptors, located throughout your body. There are six main terpenes we will go through below that will discuss some of the basic functions of the terpene.

Six major terpenes & Dominant Smell:

  • Myrcene (Citrus Musk)
  • Linalool (Lavender Rosewood)
  • Limonene (Lemon Orange)
  • Pinene (Sharp Sweet Pine)
  • Caryophyllene (Pepper Wood Spice)
  • Humulene (Woody Earth)


Myrcene is one of the most ubiquitous terpenes that takes a dominant role in making the effect of cannabis more enjoyable. It is known for relaxing muscles, putting you to sleep, relieving pain and reducing inflammation. Myrcene makes up about 3% of the indica strain while only totaling about 0.5% in sativa strains. What makes myrcene so important is that it helps THC cross the “blood-brain” barrier, thus allowing more THC to enter your brain and make you high.


Linalool has a lavender scent that is used to aid sleep and relaxation. It also has the powerful ability to help stress, depression, anxiety & seizures. It also plays a powerful role in helping the body naturally produce Vitamin E.


You can find limonene in abundance typically in the peels of citrus fruits, such as citrus rinds, juniper, and peppermint. Limonene has shown to combat cancer in mice and is thought to also be useful in treating bronchitis and help with weight loss. Also helping with depression, anxiety, gastric reflux, and is also an antifungal.


Of all the terpenes, pinene is the most popular terpene found in all plants in the plant kingdom. It has a unique ability as a natural insect repellent. You’ll find this terpene in mass quantities in pine needles and sage. Pinene produces effects to help boost your memory and stimulate your ability to be alert. Traditional Chinese medicine has been using pinene as an antiseptic, bronchodilator (for asthma), & anti-inflammatory. It has also been used as an anticancer potential, not conclusively validated by research.


Caryophyllene is what gives pepper its spicy PUNCH that sometimes makes you a tad sneezy. Also commonly found in cloves, hops, basil, and oregano. This terpene isn’t currently known to trigger any physical effects, however, it does pack with it a handful of medical benefits. The medical benefits include; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, relieves muscle spasms, helps with pain and aids with sleep.


Last but not least, humulene. Humulene smells like wood and earth. It has a powerful ability to suppress appetite, relieve inflammation, is an antibacterial, and helps relieve pain.

What are terpenes & why are they important?

Simply put. Terpenes make your cannabis taste and smell good. They’re important because they offer several medical benefits and makes the current cannabinoids “work better.”

cannabis terpene wheel infographic