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When it comes to cannabis, the THC and CBD contents typically receive the most attention. They’re displayed on product packaging, giving you an idea of the type of effects you can expect. While cannabinoids are a vital component, the cannabis plant contains over 500 distinct compounds, which all work together to create your overall experience. Included in these compounds is the terpene profile.

What Are Terpenes?

Have you ever noticed that different strains of cannabis smell have unique scents and flavors? One smells of citrus while another smells like diesel fuel. Terpenes are the reason why.

Terpenes are aromatic molecules that are produced by various plants, including cannabis. Secreted by the resin glands, these volatile organic compounds play a few roles. In nature, they protect the plants from herbivores. For cannabis users, they aid in providing various physiological effects.

Terpenes and Cannabinoids

Cannabis plants contain around 120 terpenes. They coexist with several other compounds, including THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. Not only that, but they also work in harmony with the cannabinoids, which enhances your overall experience.

The Entourage Effect

When the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other components in cannabis work together, it creates what is known as the “entourage effect.” The phenomenon leads to more powerful effects than if you were to use the separate components on their own. With the entourage effect, you can more effectively absorb cannabinoids and reduce the impact of unwanted side effects.

Medicinal Properties

The terpene profile is more than just aromas and flavors. It also contributes to the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. Pinene, a terpene found in several plants including pine trees, acts as an anti-inflammatory. Mercene helps to promote sleep. Vitamin A, which contributes to eye health, is also a terpenoid. Different strains of cannabis have different terpene profiles, enabling them to provide you with the desired effects.

Types of Terpenes

There are approximately 120 terpenes in cannabis. Some of these terpenes are unique to the plant, while others are present in several different types of plants.


Borneol, which smells similar to menthol, is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat conditions that are associated with the collapse of the central nervous system. In cannabis, it produces a calming effect and can help to alleviate stress.


Caryophyllene helps to fight inflammation. Found in spices like black pepper, cinnamon, and rosemary, it’s a common ingredient in topicals. The terpene features a peppery, spicy scent.


Limonene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis. Known for its citrusy scent, limonene helps to reduce stress and improve your mood. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties.



Linalool is present in a majority of cannabis strains. Its scent is reminiscent of flowers and citrus. In addition to its sedative effects, the terpene also provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties.


Myrcene, which has an earthy, musky scent, is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. In some strains, it makes up about 65% of the terpene profile. It aids in relaxation and helps to reduce inflammation.


With its distinct pine-tree aroma, pinene is a terpene that helps to keep cannabis users alert. It also helps to reduce inflammation and acts as a bronchodilator.

Recreational and medicinal users enjoy cannabis for a variety of reasons. Understanding what’s in your products enables you to more easily understand the effects a strain has as well as the benefits it may provide.