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What are Terpenes?

Whether you love to consume cannabis for medical or recreational reasons, you have to acknowledge that the flowers of the herb have an appealing fragrance. Depending on the plant, the fragrance can vary. You may wonder what causes the fragrance in your favorite cannabis. The answer is terpenes. Wondering what that means? Fret not; we will explain to you what are terpenes.

Getting to the Crux: What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are hydrocarbons and are naturally present in the plants, actually in essential oils present in the plants. Today, with the rising popularity of cannabis and states legalizing use of cannabis for medicinal as well as recreational purpose, people are taking an interest in its fragrance as it can have a profound effect on the experience that people have.

As stated earlier, terpenes are hydrocarbons, which contain hydrogen and carbon molecules. Many people use terpenes and terpenoids interchangeably; however, terpenoids are actually terpenes. When terpenes are dried and cured using a chemical process, it changes the oxygen content of the hydrocarbon and this altered state of terpenes is called terpenoids.

Terpenes in cannabis are created in trichomes, function as the defense mechanism of the plant. Trichomes crystals shaped like mushrooms and found on the buds and leaves of the plant. These crystals are glossy and sticky, and have a fragrance that is designed to repel insects and animals that may come to eat the leaves, flowers and buds.

Each cannabis strain has its own fragrance and that is why terpenes are so important. Smelling the cannabis, you will be able to ascertain the physiological effect that the herb may have on you. It will also give you an idea about the strain of the plant.

Terpenes in Cannabis

If you are still wondering what are terpenes, here is some more information about this amazing hydrocarbon.

In a single cannabis plant, there are more than 100 unique terpenes that researchers have identified. Of course, the differences between these terpenes are minor, but have helped researchers to classify terpenes, so that consumers and users of cannabis can understand what they can expect from their cannabis.

Terpenes can be classified as:

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Spicy
  • Bitter

Each of these main categories can further be broken down into subcategories based on specific fragrance of the terpenes. These scents are specific to each cannabis strain and allow you to determine the effect that strain would have on you if you use it. That is the reason cannabis manufacturers have created terpene wheels that enable users to understand the different effects that terpenes have on a person. Using this wheel, users will be able to determine if a particular strain of cannabis is the right choice for them.

Common Types of Terpenes

If you understand the effect terpenes have, it will enable you to choose your strain based on the kind of effect you want to experience using the cannabis. Some of the most common terpenes that you will find in online and brick-and-mortar cannabis stores are:

Limonene: This terpen, as the name suggests, has a lemony, citrus fragrance. It is the same terpen that is present in the rinds of citrus fruits and responsible for the fruity aroma of these fruits. This terpene is a potent antibacterial and antifungal agent. It can easily be absorbed by the body when you inhale it and can provide relief from stress and enhance your mood.

Pinene: This terpene is present in pine trees as well. There are two types of pinene, namely alpha and beta. The former is a scent similar to pine needles while the latter has a fragrance like parsley, dill, rosemary or even basil. Pinene is a bronchodilator, and hence, it is apt for people with respiratory issues, like asthma. It helps to dilate the airways of the lungs to ensure more oxygenated air reaches them. The terpene also is an antiseptic and has anti-inflammatory properties. It has the ability to cross the brain-blood barrier and is said to be effective in combating memory loss that people experience due to usage of THC. Pinene also makes the person more alert.

Myrcene: This particular terpene is omnipresent in lemongrass, mangoes, thyme and hops. It is one of the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis. Presence of myrcene allows you to determine whether the cannabis strain is sativa or indica. If the cannabis has over 0.5% myrcene, it will be indica and less than 0.5% means it is sativa. This terpene has anti-mutagenic, analgesic and antibiotic properties.

Linalool: The floral and light fragrance of this terpene helps to alleviate stress and anxiety. Besides cannabis, linalool is also found in lavender. The terpene can provide relief from depression, seizure symptoms and even psychosis. You can also use it as a mild sedative to calm and relax yourself.

While most researchers and commercial growers and manufacturers are aware of terpenes and the different effects they have on the body, an average user of cannabis is still clueless. That is why it is essential for users to know and understand what are terpenes.

By checking testing profiles of cannabis, they will be able to understand the type of terpenes present in their favorite cannabis strain. This, in turn, will have a profound effect on their cannabis experience.

Enjoy Your Cannabis Experience with the Help of Terpenes

Use manufacturer-made visual aids to learn more about terpenes in different cannabis strains. Remember, it is essential that the feeling you enjoy with cannabis is actually a good one. Hence, you should go into depth to understand what are terpenes and their effects on the body. That way, you will be better equipped to purchase the cannabis strain based on your expectation and requirements.

Since terpenes have a profound effect on the mood, choose your cannabis based on the sativa that can help you attain the mood you are seeking. Today, it is common for cannabis manufacturers to brand their products based on the moods they can affect. So, it should be easier for you to choose your cannabis. However, to understand the different effects on mood, you will need to know what is terpenes.


The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.

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