Cannabis Terpenes: Their Remarkable Effects & Benefits

By Jeff Kinnard  |  August 2, 2023 

As the popularity of cannabis continues to rise, more attention is going to the obscure molecules that give each strain its unique flavor and aroma: terpenes.

By the end of this page, you will have the answers to these questions:

  • What are terpenes?
  • What are the best weed terpenes?
  • How do terpenes affect you, and what are their benefits?

Indeed, terpenes play a crucial role in the taste and smell of weed. But their benefits go well beyond just sensory pleasure. 

Terpenes in weed offer effects like:

  • relaxation, 
  • energy boost, 
  • creativity, and so much more.

These benefits make terpenes essential in the cannabis experience –especially for medical cannabis users. Recent research has made great strides in uncovering the many therapeutic benefits of terpenes. For example, their ability to help reduce stress and anxiety, boost mood and cognitive function, plus relieve pain and inflammation. And in some instances, terpenes even fight chronic diseases like cancer.

Man smelling the terpenes in a joint

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes, known as terpenoids or terps, give certain plants distinct flavors and scents. These aromatic compounds are crucial in shaping plants’ essence and scent profile. Natural terpenes are particularly recognizable in pine trees and citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. 

But terpenes are not limited to those examples; they exist in all plants, serving a variety of functions. In fact, there are over 20,000 (over 200 in cannabis) types of terpenes that allow plants to survive and thrive.

Are you familiar with the incredible effects of plant terpenes? Terps play a crucial role in attracting pollinators like bees for reproduction. And sometimes, terpenes repel predators by emitting an unsavory scent. But their external effects are just one aspect of their capabilities. 

Terpenes also provide healing properties to the plant when damaged, helping it to recover quickly. Also, the internal qualities of terpenes contribute to immune system support to fend off viruses or bacteria. With such remarkable abilities, it’s no wonder why terpenes are gaining recognition in the health and wellness industry.

For centuries, terpenes have come in handy in enhancing all kinds of products. And with many types of terpenes in existence, it’s not surprising that they have proved effective in diverse applications such as perfume, essential oils, and even beer.

Terpenoid vs Terpene

Terpenes and terpenoids may sound like interchangeable terms, but both have distinct differences. Terpenes are naturally occurring hydrocarbons in live plants. But terpenoids are oxidized versions of terpenes that are present in dried or cured plants, such as cannabis. 

Food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and biotechnological industries employ terpenes as ingredients. On the other hand, terpenoids have their place in herbal remedies like cannabis and tea.

Do Terpenes Get You High?

No, terpenes do not get you high. Still, terpenes in weed do affect the type, quality, and intensity of the high. 

It’s now well understood that terpenes affect the human endocannabinoid system. And this interaction may influence mood, stress levels, immune function, and the nervous system.

Ongoing research into the synergistic effects of terpenes and cannabinoids has hypothesized a concept called the entourage effect. While it’s still early days, many studies have shown that terpenes and cannabinoids work together to elevate the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

What do Terpenes do in Weed?

When it comes to determining if a strain is sativa or indica, it all comes down to the levels of cannabinoids and terpenes that it contains. And terpenes play a prominent role. Besides being responsible for the distinct smells and flavors, terpenes also affect our bodies and minds. 

For example, an Indica and a Sativa strain can have both myrcene (a sedative terpene) and limonene (a euphoric terpene). Yet, owing to the varying levels of terpenes, the two strains have diverse effects. The Indica strain likely has a much higher level of myrcene but a low level of limonene, and vice-versa for the Sativa.

Terpenes vs THC

Are you one of those cannabis users who believe that the high solely depends on the THC percentage? Think again! The terpene profile present in a strain can drastically affect the high. 

The famous Indica strain, Grandaddy Purple, well-regarded for its high pain-relief strength and sedative effects, is a great example. It has a middle-of-the-road THC percentage of 17%. So, how is it so powerful? Its potency comes from its high levels of linalool, humulene, and myrcene terpenes. 

So, the next time you’re on the hunt for your perfect high, check out the terpene profile analysis alongside the THC percentage to make an informed decision.

List of the Best Weed Terpenes, their Effects & Benefits

How can you decide which terpenes are best for you with so many to choose from? To help you navigate the world of cannabis terpenes, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular options, along with their effects and benefits. Whether you’re looking for stress relief, pain management, or a boost in creativity, there’s sure to be a terpene on this list that meets your needs.

1. Myrcene Terpene

Myrcene is a fascinating terpene in many plants like hops, lemongrass, thyme, eucalyptus, and citrus. In cannabis, myrcene terpene has a synergistic relationship with THC, allowing for faster onset of effects. 

Myrcene’s soothing effect makes it useful for those seeking fast-acting pain relief or sleep aid. But that’s not all – myrcene terpene offers additional benefits as well. It’s an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. And this makes it a valuable addition to any holistic health regimen. It’s no wonder that myrcene exists in an estimated 20% of all strains on the current market.

Myrcene and cancer

A recent study published in SAGE Journals revealed that myrcene exhibits antitumor activity against lung cancer cells. In simple terms, myrcene can help control the growth and spread of cancer cells in the lungs.

These findings are promising, as myrcene may become an effective chemopreventive agent in cancer. With further research into the potential benefits of myrcene terpene, we may soon discover a new weapon in the battle against cancer.

2. Pinene Terpene

Pinene terpene is a naturally occurring compound in plants like pine needles, citrus, basil, and rosemary. Not only does it provide a delightful aroma, but it also has therapeutic effects. The Pinene terpene is responsible for that fresh forest scent we all love. But the benefits of pinene terpene don’t stop there. 

In marijuana, it gives an exceptional taste and aroma. Additionally, the effects of Pinene terpene include pain relief, aiding memory improvement, and acting as a potent anti-inflammatory. Moreover, pinene is a unique bronchodilator. That means it helps allow more air into the lungs – making it perfect for anyone who wants to breathe a little easier.

3. Limonene Terpene

A sliced lemon containing limonene terpene

Limonene (lemon) terpene is usually in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes. And it is easily distinguishable by its citrusy and joyous scent. Besides its zesty flavor, limonene has been the focus of many studies, and its benefits are indisputable.

As a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it can help reduce inflammation and fight free radicals. Furthermore, limonene may also have anticancer, antiviral, antidiabetic, and gastroprotective properties. But perhaps one of the most noticeable advantages of consuming limonene is the sense of euphoria it provides.

4. Beta-Caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene known for its amazing effects on mood and stress levels. It is in cloves, black pepper, lavender, and cinnamon leaves. This natural compound has become increasingly popular for its many health benefits. 

The potential benefits of Beta-caryophyllene include reduced anxiety to seizure treatment. Moreover, it has anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic qualities. And there is more! There has been no evidence of tolerance build-up to the effects of beta-caryophyllene. So, it is a reliable option for those looking for long-lasting relief.

5. Humulene Terpene

If you are a beer enthusiast, you may already know the humulene terpene. This compound is responsible for the musky scent in beer from the hops. But did you know it’s in cloves and ginger? 

More importantly, humulene is most beneficial when ingested. And it relaxes consumers, boosts creativity, alleviates pain, and calms the mind, in addition to sedation. Furthermore, studies have found that humulene is a 

  • great appetite suppressant, 
  • aid for allergies and asthma, 
  • and an anti-inflammatory. 

Recent studies also focus on its potential tumor-reducing capabilities.

6. Linalool Terpene

Linalool is a natural terpene that is popular among researchers and enthusiasts alike. It is abundant in nature, and it is particularly distinct in lavender. Thanks to its calming properties, this terpene is an effective tool in reducing stress and improving moods. However, Linalool’s benefits do not stop there. 

It possesses anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, and anticancer properties, and so on. And this makes it an excellent natural alternative for combating various health issues. 

With its pleasant aroma and manifold benefits, it’s no wonder that Linalool is essential in various industries, for example, cosmetics, aromatherapy, and insect repellents.

Key Takeaways

  • Terpenes contribute to the unique flavor and aroma of cannabis strains.
  • Terpenes do not get you high but affect the type, quality, and intensity of the cannabis high through interaction with the endocannabinoid system (Entourage effect).
  • Popular types of terpenes include myrcene, pinene, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, humulene, and linalool.
  • Understanding terpenes can help tailor cannabis experiences and offer additional health benefits.

So, are the Benefits of Terpenes Worth it?

By no means is the list of the effects and benefits of weed terpenes above exhaustive. But are terpenes worth it? The answer is a resounding yes!

Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the specific effects a cannabis strain will have on the mind and body. So, whether you’re a seasoned cannabis consumer or trying it out for the first time, understanding the terpenes in weed can help you tailor your experience. 

Not only that, but terpenes offer additional health benefits that are truly worth exploring. Many labs are now testing for the terpenes found in cannabis, allowing for more informed choices concerning health or recreation. 

So, whether you’re looking for a more tailored high or a healthier cannabis experience, learning about the effects of terpenes and their benefits can pay off.

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