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  • by Nicola Boulton September 01, 2022 5 min read

    What Are Terpenes

    What are terpenes? What is the known history of terpenes? What are some of the types of terpenes? What are some of the importance and effects of terpenes? This article explains terpene history, its benefits, and its effects on human beings.

    Terpenes are the chemicals behind various plant scents, like floral lavender or spicy black pepper. Most people commonly associate them with cannabis. It is because the cannabis plant contains a high concentration of them. They are also fragrant oils found in plants that give unique taste and smell. It's a major component in essential oils, which are the crux of aromatherapy. Scientists have been studying terpenes for ages to determine their different properties. Today terpenes have gained popularity in the cannabis industry for the variety of flavors and effects.

    What Are Terpenes

    History Behind Terpenes

    Terpenes Are new to the cannabis and CBD state. Most people are not familiar with its components and properties other than the fact is produces scents for various plants and flowers. It was first identified among the Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, Hebrews, and Chinese. They used terpenes mostly in essential oils; for example, in Egypt, they used it as a fragrance in religious ceremonies. All these cultures had one thing in common they used the essential oil and their terpenoid elements for medical purposes. Today they are more popular as CBD and cannabis users are being educated about their holistic benefits. 

    How Do They Compare To THC And CBD?

    Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are but a few of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD is obtained from hemp and marijuana, mostly derived from hemp, which has high levels of THC. In comparison, THC is derived from marijuana. Jikomes & Zoorob (2018) explained that both the cannabinoids and terpenes are a good idea of what to expect from cannabis products, but they are two different products that work differently. Terpenes give cannabis its unique aroma and flavors. The original purpose of terpenes is adaptability. Maayah et al. (2020) explained that, when using CBD for therapeutic reasons, it's good to use full-spectrum CBD products that contain terpenes and cannabinoids, which have a small amount of THC.

    Cannabis Terpenes

    Terpenes, when smoked, cannot get you high as you intend. It only gives you that sensational feeling that comes from smoking cannabis. Cannabis has therapeutic properties, while terpenes have indirect effects of the same. They affect the body differently. Some have more energetic effects while others are more relaxing as new scientists are still trying to determine if it has potential benefits and uses for various symptoms and diseases. However, terpenes do not change how CBD and THC affect the brain.

    Types Terpenes


    According to Moreno et al. (2018), limonene is one of the most commonly known terpenes. Due to its lemon-like scent, it usually has the scent of citrus, mostly used in food items such as fruit juice, candies, soft drinks, and ice cream. Because it's common and inexpensive, it is used in most fragrances in cosmetics such as shampoo, soaps, perfumes, and shower gels. Limonene also has medical components used to treat the gastrointestinal tract and for therapeutic purposes. Learn more about what strain has the highest terpenes?


    Pinene has therapeutic benefits and can also be used as a medicine that acts as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory and also helps in reducing the spread of viruses and bacteria. It is the terpenes that bring out the fresh and bright scents found in plants. These scents can be well experienced when you walk in a healthy forest. It helps clear your brain and creates fresh air that enters your lungs.


    Linalool has a complex odor and flavor properties, mostly found in essential oils or flowers. This odor is similar to floral scents and lavender plants. It's used for aromatherapy, where people gain calmness from smelling the lavender or its essential oils. Linalool is the main compound found in floral scents.


    It's an abundant monoterpene found in many plant species. Such as thyme, hop, and cannabis. Its popular flavor and aroma agents are used in manufacturing food and beverages. It has biological properties such as anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic. Most of the studies conducted about myrcene were conducted on animals to determine their health benefits. To achieve the effect, they had to use terpene in high doses.


    Humulene helps cure allergic inflammation in the airway due to the clove and ginger compounds contained in it. Humulene's major component is the hop plants used to make essential oils. It also gives the hoppy aroma found in beer. Learn more about how do i use terpenes?


    It gives the scent of cloves and turpentine. Beta-caryophyllene is found in essential oils extracted from cloves. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, fragrance, and also insect attractant. Helps in reducing pain levels in people and improves long-term chronic pains in the body. These are the most known types of terpenes familiar, and most people have come across them.

    Importance Of Terpenes

    Saffarionpour & Ottens (2018) explained that terpenes are why individuals can differentiate plants by smell and give good flavors when used in beverages and food manufacturing. When it comes to nature, they act as guards protecting plants from animals or attracting pollinators to plants. For the cannabis, users' terpenes have made it possible to have different flavors and aromas, but the cannabis itself has its scent because there are traces of terpenes. It also helps in aromatherapy and also therapeutic to those who love nature at its best. Terpenes have also proven to have potential medical properties.

    Effects Of Terpenes

    Most of the effects of terpenes come from mixing it with marijuana for medical reasons. It is because most lab tests have shown terpenes to be effective independently. You have to use them in high doses. It provides physical effects like anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, antibacterial, anti-aging, antimicrobial, antidepressants, they help with skin penetration, and many more. But these are acquired using different terpenes to achieve what you want. Terpenes are also therapeutic, mostly aromatherapy, where people get relieved from stress and improve their moods by inhaling essential oils. These effects come from burning scented candles or using the scented oils in diffusers.


    Terpenes are the reason why individuals love smelling flowers and some plants. They are abundant in cannabis and many other plants, fruits, and herbs. But most biological and physical effects it achieves are not quite clear to human beings. Most of the studies were conducted on animals, especially the mice, and to get its effect, they had to use high doses. Terpenes are best for aromatherapy and in food and beverages manufacturing.


    Jikomes, N., & Zoorob, M. (2018). The cannabinoid content of legal cannabis in Washington state varies systematically across testing facilities and popular consumer products. Scientific reports8(1), 1-15.

    Maayah, Z. H., Takahara, S., Ferdaoussi, M., & Dyck, J. R. (2020). The molecular mechanisms underpin the biological benefits of full-spectrum cannabis extract in treating neuropathic pain and inflammation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease1866(7), 165771.

    Moreno, É. M., Leal, S. M., Stashenko, E. E., & García, L. T. (2018). Induction of programmed cell death in Trypanosoma cruzi by Lippia alba essential oils and their major and synergistic terpenes (citral, limonene, and caryophyllene oxide). BMC complementary and alternative medicine18(1), 1-16.

    Saffarionpour, S., & Ottens, M. (2018). Recent advances in techniques for flavor recovery in liquid food processing. Food engineering reviews10(2), 81-94.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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