Cannabis Terpenes: What are they and what are their effects?

Cannabis Terpenes What are they and what are their effects

Terpenes are aromatic and naturally occurring chemical constituents of essential oils produced by most plants including the Cannabis plant. These organic compounds are responsible for the diverse flavors, scents, and effects of cannabis strains. They are known to enhance the medicinal benefits of cannabis by influencing how the body processes cannabinoids.

How do Terpenes Work?

Although there is a limited knowledge on how terpenes work, current research suggests that terpenes reduce the effects of CBD, THC and other cannabinoids by binding to brain receptors and neurotransmitters. They imitate the compounds that are naturally produced by the body to advance a wide range of health benefits. Terpenes are known to increase the production of dopamine, inhibit serotonin uptake, enhance norepinephrine activity, and increase the production of GABA – a neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect.

There are more than 150 different terpenes that have been detected in the cannabis plant. Basically, they provide a natural way of unearthing the cannabis strains the human endocannabinoid system is most likely to benefit from.  The following are the most common terpenes found in cannabis and their medicinal value.


Myrcene is the most common terpene present in cannabis. It has an earthy smell similar to that of cloves. Myrcene possesses antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties hence it’s commonly used to manage inflammation and chronic pain. For this reason, it’s highly recommended for cancer treatment. Additionally, myrcene possesses calming, anti spasmodic and sedative effects.

Some of the cannabis strains that are rich in myrcene are Special Kush, White Widow, and Skunk XL.


Limonene is another terpene that is found in cannabis in considerable amounts. As its name suggests, it produces a smell similar to that of lemons. Limonene has many uses. For instance, it’s known to improve one’s mood and relieve stress.  Research indicates that it has strong antibacterial, anti carcinogenic and anti-fungal properties. Numerous tests on limonene have shown how effective the terpene is in improving mental focus, attention and sex drive. Limonene readily penetrates the blood-brain barrier to increase systolic pressure. Besides, it reduces the effects of gastric acid and improves the immune system.

Some of the cannabis strains that contain limonene are Durban Poison, Sour Diesel, Jack Herer and Super Lemon Haze.


Linalool is characterized with a spicy and floral scent like lavender flowers. It has powerful relaxing, analgesic, anti-epileptic and sedative properties. This terpene is of medicinal value for patients suffering from cancer, arthritis, seizures, depression, and insomnia.

Some popular linalool strains are Special Kush, Lavender, OG Shark, and Amnesia Haze.


This is the only terpene that binds to cannabinoid receptors and selectively activates CB2 receptors. Due to its anti-fungal properties, caryophyllene is an effective toothache reliever.  It also possesses anxiolytic and analgesic properties hence it’s recommended for treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms.


This is an energetic and therapeutic terpene with a plethora of health benefits. It counters short-term memory loss that results from excessive THC, improves respiratory functions, and increases alertness. Alpha-Pinene is beneficial for patients suffering from Crohn’s Disease, cancer, and arthritis.


Also known as bisabolol or levomenol, this terpene was initially used in the cosmetics industry until researchers discovered its potency in the medical field. Apart from treating bacterial infections, it is an effective antioxidant with anti-irritation and analgesic properties.


This terpene is renowned for its medical properties. It is used to heal broken bones, inflammation and manage excess bodily fluids. It is beneficial for patients suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis.


Borneol is characterized with an herbal minty scent. It’s primarily used to treat fatigue, stress, and anxiety. Besides, it’s an effective natural insect repellent.

Some of the cannabis strains high in borneol are Golden Haze, K13 Haze, and Amnesia Haze.


This is one of the terpenes with sedative and relaxing effects. Terpineol is often found in strains that have a high level of pinenes. With its antibiotic and antioxidant properties, this terpene has a wide range of medical benefits.


Camphene is a powerful antioxidant especially when mixed with vitamin C. It is commonly used to manufacture topical treatments for skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. It also lowers cholesterol levels in the body hence lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Generally, terpenes do more than just adding distinctive qualities to cannabis strains. They enhance cannabis hence increasing the effectiveness of various cannabis treatments.

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