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What Are Terpenes?

What Are Terpenes?

Samantha Catrambone |

What do the delightful fragrances of fresh lavender, winter pine, and a bright orange peel all have in common? These familiar scents are all thanks to an aromatic compound called terpenes! Terpenes play a pivotal role in the scent, flavor, and health of plants. They are also found heavily concentrated in everyone's favorite strong-smelling plant, marijuana.


Terpenes are an essential part of cannabis consumption because they help produce the flavor, aromatics, and effects of weed. This guide will dive into everything you'll need to know about terpenes. After reading, you will be able to help your customers better understand the characteristics of cannabis strains so they can find the best product for their personal preferences!


What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the scent of most plants, herbs, and fruits. Although almost every plant contains them, you can find terpenes highly concentrated in citrus fruits like oranges, aromatic herbs like sage, and scented plants like marijuana.


When it comes to weed, terpenes make the unique flavor and aromatic profile of each marijuana strain. Cannabis terpenes are found in the female cannabis plant's trichomes. Trichomes are sticky glands that cover a flower bud's surface. The terpenes found in trichome glands are the main reason that weed smells super strong!


Are Terpenes Only in Weed?

No, terpenes are not only in weed! Terpenes are in many other non-cannabis plants, fruits, and herbs. They give plants their specific aroma and flavor profile, which is why a person can identify them based on their smell alone.


Why Are Terpenes Important?

Terpenes are an essential part of a plant's ability to stay healthy. They are found within plant tissue and are the largest group of naturally occurring compounds in a plant's essential oils. They serve many unique purposes, like helping protect plants from harmful invaders, pests, and bacteria. In addition, terpenes protect flower buds from sunburns by acting like sunblock against harmful UV rays. They can also help a plant's immune system by preventing germs and diseases from wreaking havoc.


Terpenes are not just crucial to plants; they are also extremely important to those who consume them. A lot of terpenes are bioactive, which means they have effects on the body and have therapeutic terpene uses. Since they produce such vibrant aromatics, they can help people struggling with stress levels and stabilize mood disorders. That's one of the reasons manufacturers extract terpenes from plants to make consumer goods like aromatherapy oils.


If you've ever opened up a bag of weed, inhaled deeply, and instantly felt more relaxed, you can see why terpenes are a vital part of the smoking experience. However, you have also probably noticed that every strain smells and taste different. This is because all terpenes have unique flavor profiles. Below, we will discuss the most common terpenes found in weed so you can better identify them!


What Are the Most Common Terpenes?

Although scientists have found about 400 known terpenes in cannabis, only a few have documented terpene effects. Here are the six most popular and common terpenes found in weed.



The Myrcene terpene chemical structure is drawn on a card that is shown next to a pile of herbs, a few small vials and half of a mango.

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis. It is also commonly found in hops and herbs like lemongrass or thyme. Myrcene has that earthy and musky fragrance associated with marijuana. It is the main reason people can identify weed's pungent aroma. It is also an excellent terpene for customers that want to reduce inflammation and pain. The Myrcene terpene is found predominantly in hybrid or Indica strains like White Widow.



The Limonene terpene chmical structure is shown next to two lemon halves, and a small dropper vial. slices of lemon rind.

The second most abundant terpene in cannabis is Limonene. Like its name would suggest, Limonene produces a citrus aroma and flavor. It's found predominantly in fruits like lemons and oranges. Manufacturers use Limonene to create citrus-smelling cleaning products, so it's a highly familiar aromatic. Limonene is excellent for customers looking to reduce stress and improve mood. A strain with the word lemon or sour usually contains Limonene like the popular Sativa dominant strain Super Lemon Haze.



A Linalool terpene chemical structure is drawn on a card next to a lemon and orange sliced in half with a small dropper vial near the top.

Linalool is a spicy terpene predominantly found in herbs like mint or lavender and spices like cinnamon. It's a cannabis terpene for relaxing as it has sedative properties. This makes it great for anyone looking to treat arthritis or help aid insomnia. Linalool is usually highly concentrated in Indica strains like Amnesia Haze.



A Pinene terpene chemical structure is drawn on a card next to a pile of fresh herbs, pine branches, and a small vial with oil inside.

Like its name, Pinene has a fragrant pine tree aroma. It's found in herbs like rosemary and basil. Pinene also has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to reduce memory loss associated with using marijuana. This makes it a perfect option for any forgetful stoners. This aromatic terpene is predominantly in Sativa dominant strains like Strawberry Cough.



A Caryophyllene terpene chemical structure is drawn on a card next to pepper corns, cloves, and cinnamon sticks arranged on a brown background.

Caryophyllene is a peppery terpene that's found in spices like black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. It's a unique terpene because it's the only terpene that binds to cannabinoid receptors. As a result, Caryophyllene helps soothe anxiety. It also has pain-relieving qualities and is found in hybrid strains like Skywalker OG.



Eucalyptol is a terpene with minty and cool aromatics. Eucalyptol makes up 90% of eucalyptus oil, where the plant gets its name. Eucalyptol relieves pain while slowing the growth of bacteria. Although most cannabis strains don't contain a ton of this terpene, it is highly concentrated in the popular hybrid strain Headband.


What Do Weed Terpenes Do?

When it comes to the marijuana plant, cannabis terpenes are produced and secreted from trichomes, the same glands that create cannabinoids. Terpenes and cannabinoids work together in synergy. The terpenes help with the weed's medicinal properties by helping cannabinoids enter the patient's blood steam. This enhances how cannabinoids can relieve pain, inflammation, insomnia, and other illnesses cannabis patients are treating.


When looking for cannabis products, it's important to look at products that contain botanical terpenes and not synthetic terpenes. Synthetic terpenes are made through a process of dilution, re-distilling, and reconstruction. As a result, they are more heavily concentrated, smell more intense, and have a stronger flavor. However, this is a very new process that has not been mastered.


We recommend sticking to botanically-derived or cannabis-derived terpenes because there hasn't been enough research on synthetic terpene consumption's long-term effects. Until the technology is fully developed and professionals better understand manufacturing best practices, stick to the natural stuff!


There you have it, a complete guide to how incredibly powerful terpenes can be. Next time you light up, you will be able to taste and point out terpenes like a weed sommolier!

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