What terpenes are present in weed, and what role do they play?

Nov 30, 2023

Are you fascinated by the fascinating world of terpenes? After reading this text, you’ll know everything about these natural superstars. You’ll often notice them in product descriptions in our CBD online shop. So sit back, relax, and dive into the beautiful world of terpenes.

What are terpenes?

The word ‘terpene’ often comes up when we explore the subtle complexities of cannabis or other aromatic plants. But what are they, exactly? Many plants and some insects produce terpenes, highly volatile organic compounds. These compounds play a crucial role in creating the unique scents of each plant species, including cannabis, significantly contributing to their distinctive and aromatic profile.

A woman analyzes a cannabis plant
Science and nature: a woman discovers the secrets of the cannabis plant 🔎🌿

Structure and classification of terpenes

Terpenes, with the chemical formula C5H8 and belonging to the family of hydrocarbons, are classified according to their molecular structure. The number of isoprene units present indicates the family or class to which they belong. For example:

  • Monoterpenes contain two isoprene units.
  • Sesquiterpenes consist of three units.
  • Triterpenes have six units.

Among these groups, there are more than 20,000 individual varieties of terpenes, a breathtaking diversity!

A zoom on molecules
Microscopic immersion in the fascinating world of CBD molecules 🌿✨

Where are terpenes found? Their Source and Origin

It would be limiting to think that terpenes only exist in the realm of cannabis. They are found in a multitude of plants and vegetation. They are often responsible for scents (such as turpentine, camphor, menthol, ginger, mint, and lemongrass).

Even some insects produce terpenes! They generally use them as natural defense mechanisms against predators.
The primary sources of these substances are mainly plants and insects. So don’t hesitate to take a deep breath on your next walk in the forest – you might smell a symphony of terpenes in action!

Lush plant world
Green as far as the eye can see, lush nature home to cannabis 🍃🌱

Properties and uses of terpenes

It’s fascinating to discover that terpenes are not just plant characteristics but also significantly impact our daily lives. They are everywhere, from the fragrance we wear to the herbs used in our recipes.

The diverse properties of terpenes

First, you’ll be surprised to learn how versatile terpenes are. Their properties vary greatly depending on their specific chemical structure. Some of them, like myrcene, have calming and relaxing effects, while others, like limonene, might have a stimulating effect.

Many terpenes have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are valuable allies in strengthening our immune system. Studies have also suggested that some forms of these molecules might help in the fight against cancer.
Finally, it is noteworthy that, according to a study, β-caryophyllene directly affects our CB1 and CB2 receptors (those of the endocannabinoid system), which can contribute to pain or inflammation management.

Multiple uses of these natural molecules

Terpenes are indispensable in various industries thanks to their aromas and beneficial properties. They add natural fragrances in cosmetics and skin benefits to products like creams and essential oils. In the food industry, they serve as natural flavors for beverages and sweets. In perfumery, they contribute to creating unique fragrances. They are used in relaxing products like CBD creams or ointments for well-being. Finally, some are used in ecological cleaning products for their antibacterial properties. Their versatility underscores their importance in everyday life, from beauty products to the environment.

What are the primary terpenes in weed, and what are their virtues?

A table classifying the different terpenes in cannabis
Terpenes in cannabis: A rainbow of flavors and benefits, decoded 🌈🔬

Understanding terpenes is like entering into a fragrant encyclopedia of nature. Each terpene expresses a particular flavor, fragrance, and potentially notable benefits for the human body. Their chemical compounds also differ. Now, look at some leading players in this beautiful natural world.


Limonene is the essence of cheerfulness. It is found mainly in citrus fruits like lemon and orange. Your nose will perceive this fresh and tangy scent you’d love to encounter on a sunny summer morning.

But its superpowers don’t stop in the realm of fragrance! Studies have indicated that limonene might improve mood and have anti-stress effects. It could also be beneficial for our immune system.

Several citrus fruits
A festival of citrus fruits reminiscent of the freshness and vibrancy of lemon terpenes 🍊🍋


Humulene – sounds almost like the name of a distant planet. But it’s still firmly rooted on Earth, particularly in the hops used for brewing beer or basil leaves.

It emits an earthy and woody smell that can remind us why we love to stroll in the forest after the rain. Health-wise, it has been observed that humulene can be an effective anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.


Myrcene is the giant among terpenes. Indeed, it is often the most present in cannabis varieties. You can also find it in plants like mango or thyme, with an earthy and musky aroma and a fruity nuance. Its properties? Analgesic and anti-inflammatory, nothing less!


Pinene knows how to unfold this refreshing scent of pine and fir that gives us the feeling of being in the middle of the mountains. Its area of expertise? It can help improve breathing.

Pine branches
Pine Branches: A touch of nature that evokes the woody freshness of terpenes 🌲🌿


Linalool comes straight out of a dream with its soft floral scent adorning the petals of lavender. Besides its ability to take us on a journey through a field of flowers, linalool might play a role in soothing anxiety or promoting sleep.


To finish in beauty: Beta-Caryophyllene! It can be found notably in black pepper or cloves. Remember, however, that its assets go beyond the culinary world, as various studies suggest its presence could have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Chili peppers that make up the word "spicy"
Pungent and expressive, like some terpenes that awaken the senses 🔥🌶️

Why are terpenes important in weed?

Beyond smell and taste, they can influence the effects of cannabis and hemp. They can alter how cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) interact with our bodies, potentially enhancing or modifying the overall experience. This is often referred to as the “entourage effect.”

It’s a concept developed to describe how specific components of cannabis, like terpenes and cannabinoids, work together to maximize their beneficial effects. In our case, we’ll focus on the interaction between terpenes and cannabidiol.

The role of terpenes in cannabis

Carbon units compose these compounds, giving cannabis its distinct aromas. For instance, a monoterpene, humulene, gives an earthy note, while diterpenes, structured from twenty carbon atoms, offer other aromatic nuances. These terpenoids in cannabis are not limited to providing olfactory information; they also play a role in biological processes like pollination.

The benefits of terpenes in cannabis are multiple. The most prevalent terpenes interact with other plant compounds, such as cannabinoids, including THC, to create synergistic effects. Initially, these interactions can influence bodily functions, acting almost like hormones. Furthermore, some terpenes, such as tetraterpenes, are comparable to vitamins.

The entourage effect of terpenes with CBD

First, did you know that hemp contains over 120 different terpenes? Each has its distinct characteristics and properties.
Now consider CBD. This molecule is just one of the many cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. Although non-psychoactive, it is widely recognized for its multiple health benefits and differs from THC or CBD.

What is the “entourage effect”?

So, how can these two components interact? The idea behind the entourage effect is that these elements can synergize, amplifying their respective effects. So, combined, the benefits of the cannabinoids and terpenes become even more vital.

To illustrate this, consider limonene—a terpene with known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When used in tandem with CBD, it is suggested that its effects are magnified, offering a more practical approach to relieving inflammation (According to publications by Dr. Ethan B. Russo). For more information, we advise you to read our dedicated article on the effects of CBD.

Woman holding a container of small CBD flowers
A small miracle in every container. Discover the concentrated power of CBD minibuds

The dangers and side effects of terpenes

Although they are natural and often beneficial, they are not without dangers. Using the term “natural” in health matters can sometimes be misleading. Indeed, like other molecules from nature, excessive or inappropriate use of terpenes can have undesirable side effects. The same goes for CBD and its side effects. Therefore, it is essential to consider their use with caution.

Firstly, it is essential to know that overexposure to terpenes can generate specific symptoms such as:

  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Moreover, it is worth remembering that each individual may react differently to terpenes depending on their sensitivity. Thus, while some people might enjoy the benefits of terpenes without inconvenience, others may develop an allergic reaction.

Precautions to take with terpenes

Let’s then delve deeper into this topic to identify the main recommendations to implement when using terpenes:

  1. Respect the recommended dosages: This is undoubtedly one of the critical factors in avoiding risks associated with the untimely use of terpenes.
  2. Opt for a product tested in an independent laboratory: Knowing precisely what’s in your bottle will help you avoid any potential allergenic contact.
  3. Avoid direct contact with the skin or eyes: Essential oils and terpene-rich products have concentrated properties that can irritate when used externally.
  4. Use only the necessary amount of product: Being generous with CBD oil will not necessarily give you better results.

Finally, it is always wise to consult a health professional before introducing a new substance into your daily routine. Whether it’s myrcene, pinene, or limonene, each terpene has its specificities, which would be dramatic to ignore at the risk of squandering its beneficial potential.

Frequently asked questions about terpenes in the cannabis plant

How are terpenes extracted?

They are usually extracted by steam distillation or solvent extraction. The key is to preserve their delicate nature during the process for maximum potency and purity.

How to recognize a terpene?

Recognizing a terpene involves a combination of olfaction and knowledge. Each terpene has a characteristic smell; for example, myrcene emits an earthy odor, while limonene is reminiscent of citrus fruits. They also influence the effects of cannabis, with some having relaxing or energizing properties. Mastering this recognition requires experience and can be complemented by laboratory analyses for increased accuracy.

Can I be allergic to terpenes?

Some people might be sensitive or allergic to certain terpenes like any other plant compound. It’s always best to consult a health professional if you have concerns about allergies.

Do different strains have different terpenes?

Absolutely! Each cannabis strain has its terpene profile, contributing to its aroma, flavor, and, potentially, unique effects. Choosing a strain can be like selecting a fine wine, each with its aromatic bouquet.

Do terpenes degrade over time?

Yes! They can degrade, especially when exposed to light, heat, and air. Proper storage of cannabis products is crucial to maintaining their terpene profiles. Think fresh, dark, and airtight!

Can I enhance the terpenes in my cannabis?

Some specialists use curing and storage techniques to enhance the terpene profiles of their cannabis, often in the form of resin. Bringing out the best aromas from your buds is an art and science!

Terpenes themselves are legal, as they are found in many plants. However, the legality of cannabis-derived terpenes depends on the legal status of cannabis in your country.