November 11, 2020

Understanding How Cannabis And Terpenes Work Together

Written by - Mallory Milne

minute read

Cannabis has one of the most arguably recognizable scents in the world. Crack open a bag and the whole room can smell it. Light up and walk into a bar 20 minutes later and yeah, we know you've been smoking the reefer.

cannabis and terpenes

The science behind cannabis and terpenes is solid, and the aroma behind cannabis comes from the terpenes within it. To date there are over 100 different terpenes that have been identified in the cannabis plant.

Some promote relaxation and better sleep, while others tend to make you more focused, or alert.

Each different cannabis terpene has its own profile, and not all strains have every single terpene in it.

mangoes and terpenes

The market has been flooded with essential oils over the past few years. And terpenes are essentially that. 

They are a diverse class of organic compounds that a number of plants, and some insects, produce.

Terpenes are fragrant oils within the cannabis, and have a vast range of different scents and flavors to them.

Strong smelling plants have developed these terpenes over the time to ward off potential predators. Many things can influence the terpenes being produced, including the soil that the plant is grown in, the growth stage it is in, the weather, etc.

Terpenes have a number of different health benefits, and are an important thing to consider when you're looking at different types of cannabis, or CBD oils.

Depending on what effect you are looking for, you may want to choose cannabis strains with different terpenes. For instance, Myrcene is highly sedating, while Alpha-Pinene may make you feel more alert.

Terpenes also contribute to the "Entourage Effect", and can directly impact the high you get from ingesting cannabis by interacting with THC. They work synergistically with the other compounds in the plant to boost their effects, or in some cases tone them down.

Each terpene has unique benefits, and we've outlined the most common ones here for you.

Cannabis and Terpenes


myrcene terpene in cannabis

Myrcene is a highly desirable terpene that can be found in many different herbs, plants, and fruits. Some common places that you'll find this terpene outside of cannabis is hops, thyme, basil, and lemongrass.

Mangoes also have high concentrations of myrcene, and is worth mentioning that eating this before you ingest cannabis can increase its absorption rate and the effects of the THC. It is also the most common terpene that you will come across in cannabis.

Having sedative properties to it, Myrcene is also noted for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Popular strains that are high in Myrcene include Special Kush, White Widow, and Himalayan Gold.

Myrcene Health Benefits

Anti-inflammatory Studies have shown Myrcene to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, and is highly recommended for ailments such as arthritis. It is also an anti-catabolic, and can help slow the breakdown of muscle mass.

Analgesic- As a result of a study done on mice, Dr. Ethan Russo concluded that Myrcene had a significant analgesic and sedating effect, worked as a muscle relaxant, and also caused sleep, especially when consumed in high doses.

AntibioticEnhancing Studies have shown that several terpenes, not just Myrcene, have the ability to enhance the activity and effects of certain antibiotics.

Sedative - Myrcene at high doses has been shown to increase sleeping time, and may be beneficial for anyone suffering from insomnia, or other sleeping disorders.


limonene cannabis terpene

Limonene is a terpene that has strong citrus notes to it, and is widely used in a lot of products. This terpene takes its name from the peel of the lemon, and can be found in cleaning products, flavorings, degreasers, solvents, and in many cosmetic and beauty products.

Found in high concentrations in lemon and orange peels, Limonene can also be found in peppermint and rosemary.

Limonene is one of the most common terpenes and possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and antioxidant properties. It may also help to fight and prevent some diseases, but more research in this area is needed before this can be stated as absolute fact.

Limonene has the effect of elevating your mood and decreasing stress.

Popular strains that are high in Limonene include Hindu Kush, Dirty Girl, and Lemon G.

Limonene Health Benefits

Anti-inflammatory - Limonene has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory properties in mice, and has also been shown in other studies to reduce markers of inflammation.

Anti-stress - Linked to inflammation, stress has been widely linked to a number of health issues. Studies show Limonene as having the potential to reduce stress.

Antioxidant - Free radicals can cause all sorts of damage in the body, including premature aging. Multiple studies have been published showing the powerful antioxidant properties of Limonene.

Possible disease prevention - The majority of studies done in this area show some promise towards Limonene being used for tumor inhibition in breastbrain, and lung cancer, and shows cancer cell death in some laboratory models. While this is promising, the amounts needed are much higher than what you are able to get from cannabis alone.

Anxiety and Depression - Studies have documented the positive effects of Limonene on both anxiety and depression, though it is unclear on whether the terpene is affecting just the olfactory senses, or the brain cells themselves.


alpha pinene cannabis terpene
pine tree

Alpha-Pinene is a terpene that smells strongly of pine. This can be found not only in the needles of the pine tree, but also in turpentine, rosemary, basil, parsley, orange peels, and dill.

Used in all sorts of products, from cleaning to cosmetics, Alpha-Pinene can also be employed as an effective solvent.

This terpene also has a very high bio-availability rate, 60%, and is used as a bronchodilator in humans. It has also been shown to possibly assist with short term memory issues associated with smoking cannabis.

Alpha-Pinene has the effect of making you feel more alert, or focused, and can possibly counteract the effects of THC.

Popular strains high in Alpha Pinene include UW, Snoop's Dream, AK-47, and Blue Dream.

A-Pinene Health Benefits

Bronchodilator Studies have shown Pinene to be effective as a bronchodilator(dilates the respiratory airways), and can be useful for asthma or other restrictive airway issues.

Anti-inflammatory - Numerous studies have documented Alpha-Pinene as having anti-inflammatory effects.

Short term memory aid - This terpene strongly contributes to the Entourage Effect, especially when used in conjunction with CBD. Some research is showing Alpha-Pinene as being able to counteract against some of the negative side effects of THC, one of which includes short term memory impairment.


humulene cannabis terpene

Humulene has distinct woody and earthy notes to it, and can be found in hops, coriander, cloves, and basil. One of the big components to hops is the Humulene within, and is what gives some of the hoppier beers their unique aroma and flavor.

It is a fairly common terpene that is found in modest quantities in some strains of cannabis.

Outside of the beverage world, Humulene has been used for ages in Chinese medicine, can be used as a solvent, and can also be found in some topicals used for fighting skin infections.

Humulene exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, and has some research behind it as a possible cancer fighting terpene.

Popular strains that are high in Humulene are Death Star, Headband, and Thin Mint GSC. 

Humulene Health Benefits

Anti-inflammatory - The anti-inflammatory effects of Humulene are well documented, and is shown to be highly effective when working in tandem with beta-caryophyllene, another terpene found in cannabis.

Anti-bacterial/Anti-fungal - Humulene has been noted for its moderate anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

Possible cancer fighting properties - While more research in this area is needed, Humulene may potentially have the ability to kill cancer cells.

Appetite suppressant - Cannabis is widely known for the onslaught of the "munchies" when you ingest it. Choosing strains with high levels of Humulene may have you feeling the opposite effects however, as it has been shown to suppress appetite.


beta carophyllene cannabis terpene
chili peppers

Beta-caryophyllene is a terpene that has been shown as safe to consume in high doses, and is a very common terpene found in many different strains in large amounts.

You can find it in cloves, hops, rosemary, cinnamon, and is a main contributor to the spiciness and aroma of black pepper.

Used in many different dietary aspects, Beta-Caryophyllene has an impressive amount of benefits to it, especially in terms of pain relief, inflammation, and depression.

It may also have the ability to treat ulcers. One of the biggest things it has going for it is that it is a non-cannabinoid that has the ability to activate cannabinoid receptors.

This terpene has a stress relieving aspect to it when consumed, and tends to work harmoniously with Humulene.

Beta-Caryophyllene Health Benefits

Pain relief - Showing not only promise to help relieve pain by activating cannabinoid receptors, Beta-Caryophyllene can also strengthen the effects of some opioids, such as morphine.

Anti-inflammatory - As shown in this study, this terpene has anti-inflammatory behavior, and may be useful in treatments for arthritis.

Anti-depressant/Anti-anxiety - Again as a result of the cannabinoid receptors being activated by Beta-Caryophllene, its use may help lessen anxiety and depression symptoms.

Ulcer treatment - This specific terpene may have the ability to treat or prevent ulcers and stomach lesions.

Popular strains high in Beta-Caryophyllene include Lavender, Candyland, and Blueberry Cheesecake.


ocimene cannabis terpene

Commonly found in the fragrance industry, Ocimene has sweet, earthy, floral notes to it, with a touch of citrus. This is a terpene that you'll see in a number of different plants, including hops, mangoes, basil, pepper, orchids, bergamot.

While there is some minor evidence of Ocimene as an anti-inflammatory, its primary benefits are in its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

It can also be used as an insecticide, many pests tend to steer clear of any plant that is high in this terpene.

This particular terpene can have an uplifting effect to it.

Ocimene Health Benefits

Anti-fungal Research has shown Ocimene to be highly effective as an anti-fungal and anti-microbial terpene, and can be used in food storage to help prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria

Anti-viral This study shows an anti-viral effect when used in conjunction with Alpha-Pinene and Beta-Myrcene.

Antioxidant - In this study done on the oils of black pepper, Ocimene was shown to have anti-oxidant properties, and could possibly help manage or prevent hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

Decongestant - Ocimene is noted for its decongestant and expectorant qualities, but the research behind this claim is scarce.

Popular strains high in Ocimene are White Fire OG, Chocolope, and Dutch Treat.


terpinolene cannabis terpene

Terpinolene, while common in quite a few strains of cannabis, is also the terpene that has the lowest levels. Just because the amounts might be low, it still has a host of benefits that come along with it, and is thought to contribute to the Entourage Effect.

Terpinolene also has an impact on how other terpenes and cannabinoids behave.

Terpinolene has a range of different scents to it, and is floral, earthy, and piney in nature. You can find this terpene in apples, lilacs, cumin, nutmeg, and tea tree. Popular in a lot of soaps and perfumes, Terpinolene has a sedating effect to it.

Popular cannabis strains high in Terpinolene include Dutch Treat, Sensi Star, and Snowcap.

Terpinolene Health Benefits

Sedative - While this study was done on mice, it shows Terpinolene as having a pronounced sedative effect.

Antioxidant/Potential to fight cancer - While the cancer aspect needs a lot more research, this terpene shows distinct antioxidant properties in this study.

Anti-bacterial/Anti-fungal - Terpinolene shows anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties in numerous studies like this one.


linalool cannabis terpene

Linalool has a highly floral scent to it, and is used in a large percentage of scented hygiene products(60-80%). Its uses don't stop there however, and you can find this fragrant terpene in many different applications due to its anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and neuroprotective properties.

Linalool is found in over 200 different species of plants, and is prominent in lavender, clary sage, patchouli, sweet basil, and many, many more.

This terpene has a sedating, mood-enhancing effect to it.

Popular strains high in Linalool are Amnesia Haze, Lavender, and LA confidential.

Linalool Health Benefits

Neuroprotectant - Perhaps the most exciting thing that Linalool has to offer is its possible benefits in Alzheimer's research. As shown in this study, it may have the ability to reverse some of the hallmarks of the disease.

Anti-depressant/Anti-anxiety - The benefits of anxiolytic agents on stress, one of which is Linalool, are well documented. Studies have shown this terpene to help lower anxiety and depression, along with some aggressive behaviors.

Insomnia - Adding this terpene in to your nightly routine may have the effect of longer and more quality sleep.

Pain - Documented in a few studies, Linalool may be beneficial in pain management.

The Future Of Terpenes

cannabis and terpenes

Terpene testing is becoming more and more popular as people come to learn about their potential health benefits.

With over 100 different terpenes to be explored and researched, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the different strains and blends available.

As the future of the CBD industry unfolds there is sure to be a spotlight on the brands that are including this information to better help you make an informed decision when it comes to the product you're choosing.

About the author 

Mallory Milne

Mallory is a mom of two, as well as the main content writer and owner of CBD Handle. She has been a consumer advocate and CBD user since 2018, and strives to relay accurate, easy to understand information and to educate others on the health benefits of CBD.


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