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  • by Nicola Boulton August 17, 2022 5 min read

    How Many Terpenes Are There?

    Whichever name you opt to use, terpenes have been a subject of much focus in recent years. It is worth noting that in 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill, which redefined hemp entirely and removed it from the legal definition of marijuana according to the Controlled Substances Act. Terpenes are chemical compounds found in hemp (a cannabis plant strain) and other plants such as sage, citrus fruits, and thyme. With the mass exposure of accessible knowledge about cannabis to various people, it is important to distinguish and determine terpenes, how many have been discovered, and their vital role commercially and medicinally.

    What Exactly Are Terpenes?

    According to Cox-Georgian et al. (2019), terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds in plants such as thyme, sage, and even cannabis. Terpenes can be largely accredited for giving cannabis its unique, distinctive scent that an individual can easily detect before the plant is even seen. Terpenes have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties beneficial for human health. They are hugely responsible for the distinctive flavors offered by various plants. Additionally, terpenes help plants attract pollinators and protect themselves from predators and pests. Also, terpenes fortify the plant's immune system to shield it from unconducive weather conditions that may otherwise affect its efficiency in reproducing and removing toxic wastes.

    How Many Terpenes Are There

    Some terpenes are "household names" due to their remarkable benefits. However, individuals have barely scratched the surface regarding the number of terpenes that have been discovered and the rarest and most common terpenes available. Some common terpenes include:


    Perhaps one of the most "exemplary" terpenes, limonene has been shown to treat anxiety problems due to its anti-anxiety properties. According to Kudryavtseva et al. (2016), limonene exhibits anti-cancer properties, which help impede cancer cell growth.


    It is a major component of rosemary and plays a key role in treating depression and anxiety.


    It is integral in folk medicine for its energizing properties


    It is essential in treating depression and cancer due to its anti-depressant and anti-cancer properties.

    A Brief History Of The Discovery Of Terpenes

    Terpenes were first distinctively classified in the early 1800s. However, terpenes were discovered centuries ago. Since terpenes give plants their characteristic scent, one needs to walk through a garden that is in full bloom. Scientific research is ongoing to discover more terpenes available in plants and animals.

    How Many Terpenes Are There?

    Cannabis enthusiasts may have vast knowledge and a "photographic memory" of the number of terpenes present in cannabis. Approximately, there are 150 terpenes present in cannabis, and according to Brousseau et al. (2021), terpenes are useful in treating mood and anxiety disorders.

    A total of 20,000 terpenes have been officially discovered by cannabis. Some terpenes are common, such as linalool, myrcene, and limonene, while others are rare, such as ocimene, eucalyptol, and geraniol. While a relatively large number of terpenes are present in cannabis, they are more plentiful in other non-cannabis plants.

    Terpenes Vs. THC Vs. CBD: A Closer Look

    There is a huge disconnect in interpreting terpenes, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabinoids (CBD). It may be largely accredited to the legalization of hemp products in 2018. When Congress passed the Farm Bill, individuals removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana according to the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, hemp products such as CBD oil were introduced by individuals into the market to satisfy consumers' medical, recreational and commercial needs. Many people tend to assume that terpenes also cause intoxication or make the consumer feel "high", and this presumption may arise because terpenes are an integral part of CBD, especially the full-spectrum CBD. However, only THC causes intoxication and is prevalent in marijuana and not hemp as commonly thought. Therefore, the consumer needs not to worry about whether or not they will eventually feel intoxicated.

    Terpenes are bioactive; hence, they will affect the body in various ways depending on the frequency of use and the concentration of the terpenes. The presence of terpenes in the full spectrum CBD, together with THC and CBD, results in the entourage effect – a theory in which the chemical compounds in hemp work in unison to enhance the desired effects felt by the consumer.

    The Difference Between Terpenes And Terpenoids

    Most people assume that terpenes and terpenoids mean the same thing. But, according to Perveen et al. (2018), terpenes are "simple hydrocarbons, while terpenoids are a modified class of terpenes with different functional groups and oxidized methyl group moved or removed at various positions." More often, when plants are exposed to environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, salinity, and air pollutants, the terpenes they contain are oxidized due to exposure to these conditions. The chemical structures of terpenes and terpenoids are quite similar. Learn more about the difference between cannabinoids and terpenes

    Terpene Profiles

    A terpene profile is the combination of the terpenes contained in a plant. For example, cannabis has a vast and rich terpene profile due to the numerous terpenes present in cannabis. Perhaps a striking feature of terpene profiles present in cannabis is that they also reproduce non-cannabis terpenes. Dozens of terpenes can be combined in hundreds of ways since each cannabis terpene profile has distinct qualities.

    Rare And Common Terpenes

    Common terpenes have played a key role in treating cancer, several viruses, relieving pain, and treating mood disorders. However, some terpenes are rare and of lesser abundance in cannabis and other plants. They include;


    Eucalyptol is an anti-inflammatory terpene. There are no uncertainties whatsoever when it comes to the benefits it presents. Eucalyptol is present in two terpene profiles: Girl Scout Cookies and Super Silver Haze. Learn more about will terpenes show up on a drug test?


    Discovered from the geranium flower, geraniol smells fruity and is believed to display various properties, such as antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties. Geraniol is present in the Bruce Banner terpene profile. Learn more about is it safe to take terpenes?


    Ocimene is a terpene with a woody scent. It is primarily found in orchids and parsley. This particular terpene helps fight against diabetes due to its anti-oxidant properties.


    Like many other terpenes, borneol exhibits anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties. Borneol is present in the haze strain terpene profile.


    There are numerous terpenes with various beneficial uses. It is always important to purchase high-quality terpenes to avoid any possible health risks associated with low-quality terpenes. Always check the product's viability since terpenes go stale after a while. Also, to have a peaceful night's sleep, try incorporating aromatherapy into your sleep schedule since aromatherapy includes terpenes present in essential oils such as lavender and sage.


    Brousseau, V. D., Wu, B. S., MacPherson, S., Morello, V., & Lefsrud, M. (2021). Cannabinoids and Terpenes: How Production of Photo-Protectants Can Be Manipulated to Enhance Cannabis sativa L. Phytochemistry. Frontiers in plant science12.

    Cox-Georgian, D., Ramadoss, N., Dona, C., & Basu, C. (2019). Therapeutic and medicinal uses of terpenes. In Medicinal Plants (pp. 333-359). Springer, Cham.

    Kudryavtseva, A., Krasnov, G., Lipatova, A., Alekseev, B., Maganova, F., Shaposhnikov, M., ... & Moskalev, A. (2016). Effects of Abies sibirica terpenes on cancer-and aging-associated pathways in human cells. Oncotarget7(50), 83744.

    Perveen, S., & Al-Taweel, A. (Eds.). (2018). Terpenes and terpenoids. BoD–Books on Demand.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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