What are Marijuana Terpenes?

New users of medical marijuana products may wonder, what are marijuana terpenes? It can be quite confusing. Some products and strains list their terpene profile, but what does it all mean? Let’s explore terpenes, and why they matter.

What are Marijuana Terpenes?What are marijuana terpenes

Terpenes are fragrant oils. A large variety of plants and some insects have terpenes. The flower’s sticky resin glands secrete these oils. The same glands also manufacture CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. The terpenes give the plant a specific smell.

The terpenes found in marijuana can also be found in other plants. For instance, Pinene is also found in pine needles, sage, and conifers. If you sniff a strain and think of piney woods, chances are it has the terpene Pinene in it.

More than Smell

Individual terpenes have effects and medicinal benefits. Some terpenes are calming and combat stress. Others can suppress appetite and sharpen alertness. Some are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.

Terpenes are an important part of the entourage effect. Different strains have different cannabinoid profiles, but they also have different terpene profiles. Understanding terpenes can help you choose the product that is best for you.

A Few Common Terpenes

These are a few of the more common terpenes found in marijuana. (A more comprehensive guide to individual terpenes is forthcoming.)

What are marijuana terpenes?Myrcene

This terpene has a very musky, earthy smell, with a hint of fruit. It’s highly sedative. Myrcene, in high concentrations, can produce the “couch-lock” effect. It’s also found in citrus fruits, lemongrass, bay leaves, hops, and mangoes (among others.) It reduces the resistance between the blood to brain barrier. Thus, Myrcene enhances the effects of THC. It’s anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, and fights inflammation.


What are marijuana terpenes?Limonene

This terpene has a strong lemony citrus smell. It’s a mood lifter that allows for easy skin penetration. That makes this terpene ideal for cannabis infused balms, ointments, and creams. It’s found in the rinds of citrus fruits (the zest), juniper, rosemary, and peppermint. It’s known to suppress bacteria and fungi. It is the primary ingredient in lemon cleaners. It’s easily absorbed through inhalation and hits the bloodstream. It’s currently being studied as a breast cancer treatment and may be helpful with weight loss.

What are marijuana terpenesLinalool

This terpene has a spicy, floral smell with a touch of citrus. It’s found in lavender, rosewood, birch, and cinnamon, among others. It’s been used for centuries as a sleep aid as it promotes relaxation and has calming effects. It boosts the immune system and has been shown to restore cognitive function. It’s being studied in conjunction with liver cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

CaryophylleneWhat are marijuana terpenes

Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with endocannabinoid receptors. It smells woody and spicy. It’s found in other plants like basil, cloves, cinnamon, and hops. When combined with CBD, it can provide relief to those who suffer from chronic pain. It shows promise in preventing nephrotoxicity (poisonous effects on the kidneys). That’s how it aids in chemotherapy treatment.

What are marijuana terpenesHumulene

This terpene is another with a deep earthy, woody smell. It’s found in hops, coriander, and sativa strains. A traditional Chinese medicine, it acts as an appetite suppressant. It is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor. The anti-inflammatory properties combine with pain relief properties. This makes it popular with medicinal users.


Marijuana Terpenes- Part of the Entourage Effect

We have a lot to learn about terpenes and their benefits. They are an important part of the entourage effect. Do you have a medical marijuana product with a terpene profile that you like? We’d love to hear about it, so drop us a comment down below.


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10 thoughts on “What are Marijuana Terpenes?”

  1. I had never heard of terpines until I came across your article. I am a health fanatic, and I love researching ways to get necessary nutrients, and this article intrigued me. The whole medical marijuana thing has come to light recently, and I was amazed with all the information you provided here about it. Thank you so much!

    1. Thanks so much for the comment. I genuinely love learning about this wonderful plant and all the benefits it has to offer. I grew up during a time when the stigma was high (okay, I couldn’t resist the pun) so as I see how much marijuana has to offer, I have to share the information.

  2. Thanks for this great post! I’ve been seeing a lot about medical marijuana recently, as well as CBD oil? Are they both the same thing, or are there any differences?
    I was a little confused though; since some of these terpenes can be sourced independently from marijuana what part does marijuana play?

    1. Cannabidiol, or CBD, can be derived from either marijuana (which has THC present in concentrates above 5%) or hemp (which is classified as having less than 0.3% THC). Hemp derived CBD is legal and available in all 50 states. CBD derived from marijuana is subject to the individual states laws. You are correct that the same terpene can be found in different plants. However, the cannabinoids found in marijuana directly react to the body’s endocannabinoid receptors. What happens is that the terpenes combine with the cannabinoids to provide a variety of benefits. If one looked at terpenes and their properties alone, it would not matter if the Linalool came from the lavender plant or a marijuana plant. In fact, many people use lavender essential oils (which is basically the terpene Linalool) for a sleep aid and to promote relaxation.

  3. This is very interesting to me, so thank you for posting it. Are many CBD products using other types of terpenes? Are there products using a lot of different terpenes for multiple uses?

    And I have not heard of “couch lock”. Can you explain it?

    1. Thanks for the comment, Irma. Many of the CBD products, especially the hemp derived ones (legal in all 50 states) are just the CBD and a carrier oil. There are beginning to be more available that have other cannabinoids and terpenes in them that add to the entourage effect. (The entourage effect is the effect of a compound on the body because other compounds are also present.) As for couch lock, it’s basically when you have a full body relaxation high that can make it hard to get up off the couch (or recliner, or bed…). People with chronic pain and insomnia due to their medical conditions may desire couch lock on days when they need extra relief or at bedtime.

    1. Thanks Jamaar. I find it all so fascinating. When I first started the website, I was just looking for information to help my mom and her group of friends understand marijuana and its uses. Now I find myself continually discovering what a wonderful, magical plant cannabis truly is.

  4. Hi Susie. Thank you for this informative article about terpenes. I have been researching the medical benefits of various plants and find this really interesting. Do you know if these are being produced commercially at the moment or are they still in the research stages? I’ve been looking for different specific treatments for topical skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema and athlete’s foot. Do you think these would be of any use or do you know of any research into those problems?

    1. Hi, Gail. Terpenes are in lots of products and essential oils are terpenes. As for psoriasis, eczema, and athlete’s foot, camphene is a powerful terpene that has been in products used to treat these conditions for years. There are some companies that market “terpenes” on Amazon, but from what I see they are lab created and not botanical. While these terpenes are present in other plants (and widely used) as the medical marijuana field continues to grow and research, we will learn more about their benefits.

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