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  • by Nicola Boulton September 01, 2022 4 min read

    What Do Terpenes Do

    Everyone has that particular scent that they are always obsessed with, and individuals always wonder how the flowers and trees bloom. Here are details to understand how these scents benefit you and what terpenes do to plants.

    Terpenes are aromatic compounds in almost every flower, herb, and fruit globally. Other than essential oils, most terpenes are found in cannabis plants alone. They also act as a shield to protect plants and flowers from predators and also attract pollinators. Terpenes also have health benefits to humans through aromatherapy. It is because of the wide range of aromas and flavors in essential oils. The natural compound in terpenes is therapeutical for those who enjoy nature walks. Scientists are yet to determine how they are beneficial health-wise to human beings, but they have potential health benefits yet to be fully discovered.

    What Do Terpenes Do

    How Do They Affect the Human Body?

    Cox-Georgian et al. (2019) explained that the effect of terpenes in the human body varies from the amount of concentration in the terpenes themselves and how a person uses them. People use it with different end goals; for instance, the vibrant smells from essential oils are therapeutic. When a person is overwhelmed or stressed, they tend to either burn candles or smell different aromas like getting flowers or taking nature walks to enable them to clear their minds. It also benefits people who enjoy having their homes smell a certain way. To them, this creates calmness in their personal space. Terpenes have also identified themselves as a frontier of cannabis medicine. Surprisingly when terpenes are used with cannabis, they create good therapeutic properties that help human beings to fight viruses and bacteria.

    Importance Of Terpenes In Plants

    Besides having unique scents, terpenes protect plants from animal predators and act as pollinators. Here is what terpenes do in plants;

    Act As Predators

    Plants have several predators like insects, birds, and mammals. Some terpenes are toxic to predators. Some may prevent insects from reproducing or attract beneficial insects. Learn more about will terpenes show up on a drug test?


    Many plants like flowers rely on pollinators like bees to help them grow. Wink (2018) explained that for pollination to occur, plants release terpenes that help attract these pollinators. Pollination is triggered once the pollen attaches to the stigma, and fruits and seeds develop from the fertilized flowers. Learn more about is it safe to take terpenes?


    Viruses, bacteria, or fungi can attack plants. Once a plant's immunity system is triggered, plants release terpenes to protect them from spreading across the entire plant causing damage. Once they detect the presence of microbes, the plant’s immune system responds to the threat.

    Protect From Harsh Sun

    As much as plants require the sun to grow, it's good to note that too much of it is harmful. Thus, plants release terpene to serve as their natural sunblock. They also act as antioxidants to protect plant cells against the harmful effects of UV rays.

    Types Of Terpenes And What They Do


    Myrcene is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect the brain from stroke. This terpene is mostly found in lemongrass, hop, and thyme. Datta et al. (2021) explained that flowers of cannabis also contain myrcene in them. Studies show that it can also help in preventing heart attacks. Though most of these studies were conducted on animals, they had to use high doses of terpene to get their effects.


    They provide fresh and bright scents from most plants. It helps the plants create therapeutic fresh air. When taking nature walks or walking in the forest, the fresh air comes from pinene that helps increase fresh air in the lungs. It also fights against infectious germs.


    It's responsible for the calmness that people get while inhaling essential oils. These essential oils help in aroma therapy. It has components that act as antidepressants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety. It helps people create calm environments by burning candles or using diffusers to release the scents from essential oils across the room.


    It has the most familiar scent to people, like lemon and orange, which are the citrus smell. Limonene can be a supplement that helps the immune cells and prevents body disorders.


    They are mostly found in vegetables and herbs such as cloves and black pepper. It helps in reducing inflammation and pain in the body.


    It is mostly contained in the hop plant and also cloves and ginger. Humulene can be used to prevent allergic reactions and also asthma. It also can help in clearing inflammation in the airways.

    Benefits Of Terpene

    The plant has many medical benefits, including anticancer, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antihyperglycemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiparasitic. Booth & Bohlmann (2019) explained that using different types of terpenes helps you achieve these benefits, although not all of them are determined to be effective health-wise. Other than medical, terpenes are also therapeutic. Most people suffering from stress and depression always find calmness by either taking nature walks or using different scents found in essential oils. The freshness in healthy forests helps clear your brain and inhaling the air benefits the lungs. Burning scented candles or using diffusers creates calmness in your personal space and also, and they can also be used as fragrances. Terpenes are also used to make skin care products that help reduce acne and benefit the skin because they easily penetrate the skin.


    Other than just scents, terpenes are also good protectors to the plants. It helps the plants to grow healthy and become beneficial to human beings. They are therapeutic because of the wide range of essential oils used for aromatherapy to create calmness and act as antidepressants. The fresh scents in terpene plants help create fresh air in the environment. Identifying what works best for you when you are at your lowest or feeling under the weather is also good.


    Booth, J. K., & Bohlmann, J. (2019). Terpenes in Cannabis sativa–From plant genome to humans. Plant Science284, 67-72.

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

    Datta, S., Ramamurthy, P. C., Anand, U., Singh, S., Singh, A., Dhanjal, D. S., ... & Singh, J. (2021). Wonder or evil?: multifaceted health hazards and health benefits of Cannabis sativa and its phytochemicals. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences28(12), 7290-7313.

    Wink, M. (2018). Do secondary plant metabolites modulate insect behavior-steps toward addiction?. Frontiers in Physiology9, 364.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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