🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
Terpenes are the aromatic oils naturally created by the cannabis plant that give different strains their distinct smell and effect. Each type of strain produces a unique blend of terpenes which help define the experience of consuming the cannabis flower. Not only do terpenes impact aroma, they also interact with cannabinoids like CBD and THC in ways that science is just beginning to understand.
While the cannabis community is eager to learn more about terpenes, they are becoming as coveted by the consumer as the famous cannabinoids that have commanded virtually all the attention in the past.
Here's a short list of the most common terpenes found in cannabis.
Linalool has one of the most identified scents of all the terpenes found in cannabis. It’s smell is reminiscent of the lavender plant, and this terpene gives certain strains that soothing, calming effect that we often associate with the cannabis experience. It’s also found in many fruits, flowers (including the rose), and spice plants like laurel, tangerine, spearmint, cypress, and lemon.
Linalool is commonly used as a fragrance additive in scented hygiene items and cleaning agents including shampoos, soaps, and lotions. It’s thought to have a sedative effect and has been used in the relief of anxiety and pain.
Strains high in linalool include amnesia haze, purple kush, and sour diesel.
Pinene is the terpene that gives cannabis the classic pine forest smell. This sharp-smelling terpene is known for contributing to alertness and memory retention, and can help counteract some of the disorienting effects of high THC.
Pinene can also be found in conifer trees, orange peels, turpentine, pine needles, rosemary, dill, basil, and parsley.
It’s been used in the treatment of asthma, pain, anxiety, ulcers, and cancer, and some of the strains known to have high ratios of pinene include AK-47, Blue Dream, Harlequin, and Grape Ape.
Caryophyllene gives a broad sensory experience and includes a spicy, pungent, and musky odor when you crack open a dried cannabis flower. It’s common in many herbs and spices like black pepper, basil, and oregano, and cinnamon and cloves. It’s also present in hops.
One thing that makes caryophyllene unique is that it’s the only known terpene that can interact directly with our body’s cannabinoid receptors, while other terpenes can’t bind directly to our endocannabinoid system like CBD and THC can.
Strains with pronounced levels of Caryophyllene include Candyland, Death Star, and GSC.
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene you’ll find in modern commercially-produced cannabis. Myrcene is also present in hops and lemongrass and traditionally has been thought to act as a sedative and to help with pain and anxiety control. It’s also been shown to help with muscle relaxation.
Some strains with the highest amounts of myrcene known include OG Kush, Remedy, Granddaddy Purple, and Tangie.
Limonene gives cannabis strains a citrusy smell and it’s commonly found in fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, and peppermint.
It’s thought to contribute to the relief of anxiety, depression, inflammation, pain, and cancer in medical patients and can lead to elevated mood and help dissipate stress. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Common strains that produce high levels of limonene include Hindu Kush, Lemon G, Cinex, Emerald Jack, and GG4.
As far as common terpenes, terpinolene warrants a place at the bottom of the list due to its relatively small amounts present in cannabis compared to the others.
Terpinolene has a piney, fruity, and herbal smell and it’s commonly found in nutmeg, tea tree, conifers, apples, cumin, and lilacs. The scent it exudes can be difficult to describe succinctly, because when you get a nose-full there seems to be a lot going on. Terpinolene presents a wide range of smells, but the word “fresh” will likely come to mind.
It’s medicinal potential can be found in characteristics like antioxidant, sedative, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer.
Strains high in terpinolene include Dutch Treat, Super Lemon Haze, Sour Tangie, and Sour Tsunami.
Many industry experts believe that terpene isolation is the future frontier in cannabis. Do you think about terpenes when selecting the best cannabis strain to suit your needs? We hope this short guide helps next time you visit the dispensary to find your next favorite strain.