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What are Terpenes? Their Types and Effects


When we think of the cannabis plant, the first thing that often comes to mind is the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). However, cannabis is made up of many other compounds, including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Terpenes, in particular, play an important role in the aroma, flavor, and potential therapeutic effects of cannabis and many other plants. In this blog by Green Bud SF, we'll explore what terpenes are, learn about their different types, and highlight their potential effects on human health. Continue reading with Green Bud SF's best recreational cannabis dispensary San Fransisco.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are a variety of organic compounds found in various plants, including cannabis. They contribute to the distinctive aroma and flavor profiles of plants, fruits, and flowers. In cannabis, terpenes are synthesized in the same glands that produce cannabinoids and are believed to work synergistically with them to produce a range of effects. Terpenes are formed by combining isoprene units, which are five-carbon building blocks. Interestingly, there are over 20,000 known terpenes, with more being discovered regularly.

Types of Terpenes

Here are some common terpenes found in cannabis and their associated effects:


Limonene is found in citrus fruits and has a citrusy aroma. It is associated with elevated mood, stress relief, and potential anti-inflammatory properties. Some research suggests it may also have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.


Myrcene is commonly found in hops, mangoes, and thyme. It has an earthy and musky aroma. Myrcene is believed to have sedating effects and can act as a muscle relaxant. It may also enhance the absorption of other cannabinoids.


As the name suggests, pinene has a pine-like aroma and is found in pine trees, rosemary, and basil. It is associated with increased alertness and focus. Pinene may also have anti-inflammatory properties and has been studied for its potential bronchodilator effects.


Linalool is present in lavender, coriander, and cinnamon and has a floral scent. It is known for its calming and relaxing effects and is often used in aromatherapy for its potential to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Linalool may also have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.


Caryophyllene is commonly found in black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. It has a spicy and peppery aroma. Unlike other terpenes, caryophyllene can interact directly with the body's endocannabinoid system. It may have potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects and has been studied for its potential use in the treatment of anxiety and depression.


Terpinolene has a complex aroma, often described as floral, herbal, and citrusy. It is found in various plants, including apples, cumin, and lilacs. Terpinolene is associated with uplifting and energizing effects. It may also have sedative properties and is sometimes used in aromatherapy for its potential calming effects.

Effects of Terpenes

Effects of Terpenes
Effects of Terpenes

Cannabis terpenes, in addition to providing aroma and flavor, can also contribute to the overall effects of cannabis. These effects are often referred to as the "entourage effect," where terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, to modulate the therapeutic potential of the plant. Here are some common effects associated with cannabis terpenes:

Relaxation and Stress Relief: Terpenes like myrcene and linalool are known for their calming and sedative effects. They may promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and aid in stress relief. These terpenes can contribute to the popular notion of cannabis strains that induce a sense of calm and relaxation.

Mood Enhancement: Terpenes such as limonene and pinene are associated with uplifting and mood-enhancing effects. They may promote a sense of happiness, positivity, and increased energy. These terpenes can contribute to the "uplifting" and "euphoric" experiences often associated with certain cannabis strains.

Pain Relief: Some terpenes, including caryophyllene and myrcene, have shown potential analgesic properties. They may help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. These terpenes can contribute to the pain-relieving effects that certain cannabis strains may provide.

Anti-inflammatory Effects: Several terpenes found in cannabis, including limonene, pinene, and caryophyllene, have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. They may help reduce inflammation in the body, which can be beneficial for conditions such as arthritis or other inflammatory disorders.

Focus and Alertness: Terpenes like pinene and limonene are believed to enhance focus, attention, and mental clarity. They may counteract the potential sedative effects of other terpenes, providing a more alert and focused experience.

It's important to note that the effects of cannabis terpenes can vary depending on the specific terpene profile of a strain and the individual's unique physiology. Additionally, the concentrations of terpenes can vary across different cannabis strains, resulting in varying effects. Therefore, it's crucial to consider the terpene composition when selecting a cannabis product to tailor the desired effects.


Terpenes are fascinating compounds found in a wide variety of plants, including cannabis. They are responsible for the aromatic profiles of plants and may have significant effects on our well-being. From the uplifting properties of limonene to the relaxing nature of linalool, terpenes offer a world of sensory experiences and potential therapeutic benefits. As our understanding of these compounds continues to evolve, we can look forward to exploring the diverse effects they may have on our health and quality of life.

Remember, when it comes to cannabis, terpenes work alongside cannabinoids to create a unique and potentially impactful combination. So, the next time you experience the aroma of a flower or enjoy the flavors of a fruit, take a moment to appreciate the terpenes that contribute to those sensory delights.

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