What are Cannabis Terpenes, and What Do They Do?

Posted by London Kelley on Apr 10th 2023

What are Cannabis Terpenes, and What Do They Do?

You eat them every day in fruits and vegetables, and if you stop to smell the flowers, you just got a whiff of nature's gifts; terpenes give us life! A world without aroma and flavor would be so dull.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are natural compounds in plants that produce a distinct scent and flavor. These molecules make up the plant's essential oils and serve many purposes for the plant's survival and reproduction. Terpenes attract pollinators and deter insects and animals that can do harm to the plant. There are thousands of terpene varieties found throughout nature, and over 200 types have been identified in cannabis strains.

Why Do Cannabis Plants Produce Terpenes?

Terpenes play an integral role in the plant's life cycle protecting the plants from stressors and pathogens and triggering an immune response if the plant senses a threat. Plants create terpenes to protect themselves, adapt to their environment, and reproduce.

That's The Terpenes Talking

Terpenes are increasingly acknowledged as the biggest determining factor for the effects of a particular cannabis strain. The terpene profiles in a plant have a lot to do with the therapeutic properties felt by the consumer. Terpenes can have stimulating, energizing, pain-relieving, euphoric and sedative effects.

Where are Terpenes Found on the Cannabis Plant?

Cannabis is rich in terpenes. These organic chemical compounds are densely packed in the trichomes of the cannabis flower and throughout the entire plant. These essential oil compounds contribute to the distinctive aromas, colors, and flavors of the cannabis cultivar.

The resinous crystals and hairs make up a potent cocktail of THC, CBD, other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. These aromatic compounds partnered up with cannabinoids create a special kind of synergy called the entourage effect.

What do Cannabis Strains Have in Common with Essential Oils

Cannabis strains can produce potent aromas that have distinct characteristics, some earthy, musky, skunky, fruity, and citrusy. These scents come from the essential oils in the plant and have a variety of effects on humans.

You can test the effects that terpenes can have on your mood by diffusing lavender essential oil in a room or putting a few drops of peppermint oil on a cold washcloth and laying it on your head when you feel fatigued.

Different scents have different effects and benefits. These differences in the way the molecules interact also explain how some cannabis strains can make you feel drowsy and slow you down, ease pain response, or regulate your energy levels and help with productivity.

How Terpenes Interact with the Human Body

Aside from the aromas and flavors, terpenes affect the body and produce therapeutic effects a lot like other cannabis compounds like CBD and THC.

Whether you are consuming cannabis or terpenes in other plants, these organic compounds send a message to your nervous system. This is why aromatherapy can have health benefits that extend beyond the initial scent. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for some of these sensory attributes. For example, the terpene Limonene is synonymous with an increase in serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and neurotransmitter activity. This finding alludes to how terpenes could be effective for people with anxiety disorders. Limonene terpene can be found in the underlying tones in Sour Diesel and Blue Dream strains.

A Practical Application of Terpenes

All terpenes boast unique properties and effects on humans, such as fighting off unwelcome microbes and pathogens. Scientists have discovered a wide range of medicinal purposes and practical uses for these aromatic compounds due to their anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and antiseptic qualities.

Terpenes found in plants are commonly used in cleaners, medicines, perfumes, foods, and more.

Cannabis Terpenes Could Be The Missing Key

Terpenes in cannabis have therapeutic qualities that have been discovered to reduce anxiety and inflammatory reactions. Cannabis extract products that contain high levels of terpene are highly desirable for their delicious flavor, elevating effects, and potential health benefits. Scientists speculate terpenes can play a big role in developing natural solutions for common ailments.

Common Terpene Types Found in Cannabis

Out of the 200+ terpenes, we know of in cannabis, here are a few of the most well-known and researched terpene types.

If you are looking to use cannabis products as a therapeutic agent for a particular ailment, terpenes can help guide you in the right direction. Familiarizing yourself with some of these cannabis and hemp terpenes will help you understand the benefits the terpene profile has and what it can do for you.


Myrcenene is one of the most common terpenes present in cannabis cultivars. Myrcene is found in high concentrations in strains like Blue Dream, Grandaddy Purple, and OG Kush. The scent can vary from musky to citrusy depending on the strain of the cannabis plant. This terpene can be found in mangoes, bay leaves, thyme, hops, lemongrass, parsley, and more. Its medicinal benefits target a wide range of uses for body and mind.

Scent Profile:

  • Earthy
  • Grassy
  • Musky
  • Fruity/Citrusy

Common Effects:

  • Calming
  • Sedative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-anxiety


Limonene is a primary terpene in many strains known for its strong citrusy aroma. Limonene is also found in citrus fruits, rosemary, peppermint, and juniper. Strains with limonene are sought after for their enlightening effects that lift your mood and take the edge off. If this is the vibe you are looking for, try Og Kush orWedding Cake. Some strains that smell citrusy don't always contain the limonene terpene, so don't rely on smell alone. Researchers are particularly interested in learning more about limonene as it has been found to inhibit the activity or growth of cancer cells and alter the way certain immune cells behave.

Scent Profile:

  • Sour
  • Citrus
  • Fruity

Common Effects:

  • Relaxing
  • Reduce Stress
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Supports cellular health


Linalool is a popular terpene that gives lavender its calming characteristics. Linalool produces floral aromas and is found in marijuana strains like Do-Si-Dos, Amnesia Haze, Lavender, and Zkittlez. This terpene is loved for its mood-enhancing and relaxing effects. Studies have found Linalool aids in the recovery process and is said to have a positive effect on pain and sleep issues. Linalool is a natural insecticide that is great for keeping mosquitoes and other insects away.

Scent Profile:

  • Floral
  • Earthy

Common Effects:

  • Supports sleep
  • Reduce Inflammatory response
  • Analgesic properties


If you enjoy the scent of pine trees, you are a fan of the terpene Pinene. This terpene can be found in small amounts in a wide variety of cannabis strains and is also in basil, dill, rosemary, and many more plants. The effects of pinene are said to ease tension in the body and mind due to its stress-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Strains that contain prevalent levels of Pinene are Jack Herer, Blue Dream, and Strawberry Cough.

Scent Profile:

  • Piney
  • Earthy aroma

Common Effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Soothing


Caryophyllene produces a spicy, musky, and sometimes peppery aroma. It's prevalent in black pepper, hops, cloves, and oregano. Strains containing high levels of caryophyllene are Bubba Kush, Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel, and Super Silver Haze. Caryophyllene is especially unique because, unlike other terpenes, it acts like a cannabinoid by binding to CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Its anti-inflammatory effects make it a key ingredient in topicals.

Scent Profile:

  • Peppery
  • Spicy
  • Musky

Common Effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Promotes Relaxation
  • Antioxidant properties


Nerolidol shares some commonalities with other cannabis terpenes. Studies found it can be useful for inflammation, support sleep and has anti-bacterial properties. It has a light woodsy floral aroma and is found in ginger, jasmine, rose, tea tree, and citronella. This terpene can be found in small amounts in GG4, Afghan Moon, and White Fire.

Scent Profile:

  • Floral
  • Woodsy
  • Earthy
  • Fruity

Common Effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Muscle Relaxer
  • Mild sedative

How do Terpenes Contribute to the Effects of Cannabis?

Cannabis terpenes alone have great benefits; however, when cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in cannabis, work together, they have a synergistic effect known as the Entourage Effect.

In other words, the entourage effect suggests that a little bit of everything has greater benefit than any of these compounds alone.

Terpenes complement the effects of cannabinoids, although they have an entirely seperate function. This may explain why two different strains with the same levels of THC will produce different experiences. It is not just about the cannabinoid content. The terpene profile contributes a great deal to how the plant compounds make you feel.

Terpenes show a lot of promise with a wide range of therapeutic benefits; however, research is still in its infancy. We have a lot more to learn about how terpenes react with other terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids found in cannabis.

Finding The Right Terpene Blend For You

When it comes to finding the right strain for you, cannabinoids and terpenes are something you definitely want to pay attention to. There are many terpenes in cannabis and hemp plants that have yet to be explored and studied. However, the most prevalent cannabis terpenes show consistent results, so if you are looking for relief, sleep support, focus, or relaxation, make sure you check out the terpene profile.

Keeping it Pure The Standard by BlackMarket Terpene Rich Extracts

The Standard by BlackMarket formulas are made with the highest standards, using live resin for a true-to-plant experience.

Terpenes are volatile compounds and can be lost during the extraction process from heat or solvents. This is why the best way to preserve all these beneficial compounds in the plant is through a gentle cold extraction process. Our live resin extracts undergo a flash freeze as soon as they are harvested to ensure the integrity of all the subtle terpenes for maximum potency and flavor.

The result is a terpene-rich golden extract that captures all the exotic and subtle flavors of the plant. Our rare cannabinoid blends are a truly flavorful experience capturing those desirable effects from strain-specific terpenes and cannabinoids.

Written by London Kelley

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes