Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants that give each plant it’s scent – they’re basically essential oils. For example, limonene is the terpene responsible for making lemons smell lemony, and pinene is what gives pine trees their characteristic scent. Cannabis produces more terpenes than any other single plant on earth. They are partly responsible for the different smells and (more importantly) the effects that differ from one cannabis strain to another.
Most people are familiar with the indica and sativa designations for cannabis, indica’s tend to be relaxing and sativa’s tend to be more energetic (and easy way to remember is to think “indica = ‘in da couch'”). As marijuana legalization spreads throughout the US (and the world), one of the benefits is that it’s becoming easier to conduct scientific studies on the plants and their effects. Some of these studies have focused on the benefits and therapeutic effects of cannabis terpenes. There’s a whole lot more going on in cannabis than the indica/sativa distinctions of your parent’s weed. Paying attention to cannabis terpene profiles of the CBD or marijuana strains that you’re consuming can help you choose the strains that will work for you best. You can usually find this information on the company’s lab reports (COA’s).
We’ve listed some of the more common terpenes found in marijuana and CBD flower and their respective medicinal or therapeutic qualities.
Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes found in CBD bud. It’s typically associated with calming effects. Other plants that produce myrcene include thyme, lemongrass, mango, bay and hops. Myrcene is often associated with the feeling of “couch lock.” Eating a mango along with smoking a strain high in myrcene can enhance the relaxation that comes with this terpene.
Aroma – cloves, cardamom, hoppy, musky, earthy, herbal, peppery
Therapeutic effects – anti-inflammatory (Lorenzetti et al., 1991), treats insomnia (Bisset and Wichtl, 2004), pain relief (Rao et al., 1990)
Caryophyllene is one of the only terpenes that also acts as a cannabinoid, working on CB2 receptors (the same receptors that CBD works on) in helping to contribute to CBD flower’s and medical marijuana’s anti inflammatory properties. You can find caryophyllene in black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, basil and hops.
Our popular fruity sativa, Juicy Fruit, boasts caryophyllene as the second most abundant terpene.
Aroma – spicy, peppery
Therapeutic effects – anxiety & depression (Bahi et al., 2014), antioxidant (Calleja etal., 2012), anti-inflammatory (Horvath et al., 2012), longevity (Pant et al., 2014)
Being found in all pine trees and sage, pinene is one of the most prevalent terpenes found in nature. It’s also found in rosemary, dill, parsley, and basil. Cannabis strains with a lot of pinene tend to leave users feeling very cerebral, creative and focused.
Pinene is the dominant terpene in all 3 of our indoor grown CBD strains.
Aroma – pine, woody, earthy
Therapeutic effects – bronchodilator (Namet al., 2014), antiviral (Astani and Schnitzler 2014), anti-inflammatory (Khoshnazar et al., 2019), memory retention (Russo 2011), anti anxiety (Satou et al., 2014)
Limonene is sometimes referred to as nature’s antidepressant. Like the name suggests, its commonly found in lemons. CBD strains high in limonene are likely to be uplifting, enhancing your mood and relieving stress.
Aroma – lemon, orange rind, juniper
Therapeutic effects – antibacterial (Espina et al., 2013), antidepressant (Zhang et al., 2019), stimulates immune system (Komori et al., 1995), anti anxiety (d’Alessio et al., 2014), chronic pain (Araújo-Filho et al., 2017), cancer treatment (Xiao et al., 2018)
Humulene is closely related to b-caryophyllene. It’s often found in lesser amounts than other terpenes, but can be found in strains that are also high in caryophyllene. This herbaceous terpene can be found in hops, ginger, sage, and ginseng.
Aroma – herbaceous, woody, earthy, musky, spicy
Therapeutic effects – cancer treatment (Legault and Pichette 2007), anti-inflammatory (Rogerio et al., 2009)
Linalool is a slightly spicy, fragrant, floral terpene that contributes to a strain’s calming and relaxing effects. It can be found in lavender, mint, laurel, rosewood and birch tree bark. It has been used as a calming aid for centuries.
Aroma – floral, spicy
Therapeutic effects – antimicrobial (Burdon et al., 2018 ), anti anxiety (Carvalho-Freitas and Costa 2002), antidepressant ( Guzmán-Gutiérrez et al., 2012), stress relief (Nakamura et al., 2009)
Ocimene can be found in a number of plants other than cannabis including hops, basil, mango, lavender and pepper. Ocimene is a part of a plant’s natural defenses and aids in defending against aphids in the same way that citronella repels mosquitoes.
Aroma – sweet, herbal, citrus, woody
Therapeutic effects – anti-inflammatory (Kim et al., 2014), type 2 diabetes (Oboh et al., 2013), hypertension (Oboh et al., 2013), anti-fungal (Cavaleiro et al., 2015)
Camphene is a minor terpene that has been shown to have positive effects on blood cholesterol levels in rats. Its used in many fragrances and as an additive in food flavorings. It may be responsible for an acrid smoke that illicits a slight irritation in the throat and lungs.
Aroma – camphor, pungent
Therapeutic effects – antioxidant (Tiwari and Kakar 2009), lowers blood cholesterol (Vallianou et al., 2011)
- Myrcene mimics the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea.
- Bisset NG, Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A Handbook for Practice on A Scientific Basis. 3rd edn. Boca Raton, FL: Medpharm Scientific Publishers: Stuttgart; CRC Press; 2004.
- Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basis.
- β-Caryophyllene, a CB2 receptor agonist produces multiple behavioral changes relevant to anxiety and depression in mice.
- The antioxidant effect of β-caryophyllene protects rat liver from carbon tetrachloride-induced fibrosis by inhibiting hepatic stellate cell activation.
- β-Caryophyllene ameliorates cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity in a cannabinoid 2 receptor-dependent manner.
- Beta-caryophyllene modulates expression of stress response genes and mediates longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans.
- The therapeutic efficacy of α-pinene in an experimental mouse model of allergic rhinitis.
- Daily inhalation of α-pinene in mice: effects on behavior and organ accumulation.
- Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.
- Antiviral activity of monoterpenes beta-pinene and limonene against herpes simplex virus in vitro.
- Attenuating effect of α-pinene on neurobehavioural deficit, oxidative damage and inflammatory response following focal ischaemic stroke in rat.
- Mechanism of Bacterial Inactivation by (+)-Limonene and Its Potential Use in Food Preservation Combined Processes.
- Antidepressant-like Effect of Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck Essential Oil and Its Main Component Limonene on Mice.
- Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states.
- Anti-stress effects of d-limonene and its metabolite perillyl alcohol.
- D-limonene exhibits superior antihyperalgesic effects in a β-cyclodextrin-complexed form in chronic musculoskeletal pain reducing Fos protein expression on spinal cord in mice.
- d-limonene exhibits antitumor activity by inducing autophagy and apoptosis in lung cancer.
- Potentiating effect of beta-caryophyllene on anticancer activity of alpha-humulene, isocaryophyllene and paclitaxel.
- Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene α-humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation.
- Bacteria colonising Penstemon digitalis show volatile and tissue-specific responses to a natural concentration range of the floral volatile linalool.
- Anxiolytic and sedative effects of extracts and essential oil from Citrus aurantium L.
- Antidepressant activity of Litsea glaucescens essential oil: Identification of β-pinene and linalool as active principles.
- Stress Repression in Restrained Rats by (R)-(−)-Linalool Inhalation and Gene Expression Profiling of Their Whole Blood Cells.
- Chemical composition and anti-inflammation activity of essential oils from Citrus unshiu flower.
- Antioxidative properties and inhibition of key enzymes relevant to type-2 diabetes and hypertension by essential oils from black pepper.
- Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Angelica major against Candida, Cryptococcus, Aspergillus and dermatophyte species.
- Plant derived antioxidants – Geraniol and camphene protect rat alveolar macrophages against t-BHP induced oxidative stress.
- Camphene, a Plant-Derived Monoterpene, Reduces Plasma Cholesterol and Triglycerides in Hyperlipidemic Rats Independently of HMG-CoA Reductase Activity.