What are Terpenes?

Read Time: 4 minutes, 42 seconds. 

If you have ever done any research into the cannabis plant, you’ve probably run across the term “terpenes.” While terpenes are associated almost exclusively with cannabis, they are actually produced by a wide variety of plants in nature. They serve several important purposes for plant life and are vital for the growth and health of the cannabis plant in particular.

But what exactly are terpenes? What do they do? Are they safe to consume? We will answer all of these questions and more below.

What are Terpenes?

Generally speaking, terpenes are organic compounds produced by hundreds of different plant species. They are notable for their strong odour, which often serves a special purpose in a plant’s natural habit. For example, some odours can help deter herbivores, while others can attract predators. Many products that we use every day, like essential oils and perfume, are derived from plant terpenes. In the vast majority of cases, terpenes are completely safe for humans to consume.

7ACRES Jack Haze

How Are Terpenes and Cannabis Related?

Just like in other plants, terpenes occur naturally in cannabis. However, the type of terpenes can vary based on the specific strain of cannabis, the climate, soil, and other factors the plant was raised in. In any case, cannabis terpenes have distinct aromas, which also give their respective cannabis strain interesting and unusual flavours.

That said, for cannabis plants, terpenes are not just there to make nice smells and flavours. In fact, they serve a very important purpose for cannabis cultivation. The aromas produced by cannabis terpenes serve as a deterrent to herbivores (like deer and other potential threats), while also working to attract potential pollinators.

There are at least 100 different kinds of terpenes in cannabis, and the number and variation can change depending on the strain and even the individual plant. These terpenes play a significant role in cannabis consumption, as they also interact with many cannabinoids. These interactions can produce very specific effects that are different for each kind of terpene.

How Do Terpenes Affect the Consumption of Cannabis?

When shopping for cannabis, most people tend to focus on cannabinoid percentages, such as THC and CBD. However, it is less common to focus on terpenes, even though they potentially have a significant impact on the effects that a particular strain produces in users. Since terpenes are so complex, even many cannabis researchers do not understand their full effects and interactions.

Many believe that the real distinction between the effects felt by different types of cannabis strains are the result of terpenes.

The deep and pungent terpenes commonly found in Indica-dominant strains are associated with relaxing, sedative effects. Terpenes associated with Indica-like effects include Myrcene and Beta Caryophyllene.

The bright and fruity terpenes that are abundant in Sativa-dominant strains are often associated with uplifting, energetic effects. Terpenes associated with Sativa-like effects include Pinene and Limonene.

Common Kinds of Terpenes

As previously stated, there are more than a hundred kinds of terpenes in any given cannabis plant, though each strain will generally have a concentration of only a select few terpenes. Nonetheless, there are a few terpenes that are very common and are known to produce certain effects in most cases. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common terpenes:

7ACRES flower


This terpene is known for producing floral or herbal aromas. In addition to its alluring scent, terpinolene has a wide variety of potential medical benefits, including its status as an antioxidant and sedative. Even though it is most common in cannabis, terpinolene can also be found in nutmeg, apples, and lilac.

Jack Haze blood orange


Ocimene has a sweet aroma, which makes it a popular choice for those who want a strong, flavorful experience. While ocimene has many interactions with cannabinoids, it is known for being both antibacterial and a strong decongestant. Ocimene is found in a surprising number of foods and herbs, including mint, parsley, and mangoes.

7ACRES lavender


This compound is especially popular for its floral scent. The only other plant that contains linalool is lavender, so many users report an aroma and flavor similar to the beautiful purple flower. As far as medical benefits, linalool is particularly useful for combating anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, and insomnia.

Sensistar Lemon


As the name implies, limonene is known for its bright, citrus smell. It can give cannabis a very strong flavor and aroma, in addition to several positive effects for users. Once consumed, limonene can produce an elevated mood, in addition to reducing anxiety and depression in some users. Limonene is also found in the rinds of many kinds of fruit, which is why smelling an orange is a common remedy for depression!

Jack Haze Pine


This is one of the most recognizable terpenes on the list, thanks to its familiar and distinctive smell: pine trees. a-Pinene is very popular with cannabis users who wish to have a more relaxed “high,” as it can help combat some of the more intense effects of THC. Additionally, a-Pinene has several interesting medical benefits, like treatment for asthma, ulcers, and even cancer. Needless to say, a-Pinene occurs naturally in pine needles, as well as herbs like basil, rosemary, and dill.

White Widow Earth


Myrcene has a distinctive aroma often described as “musky” or “earthy”. This terpene can potentially help those dealing with insomnia, pain, and inflammation, thanks to its sedating properties.

While there is still a lot of research to be done on terpenes, initial evidence suggests that these chemical compounds play a very important role in the medical and psychoactive effects of cannabis. Terpenes can be used to increase the effects of a cerebral high, limit the potency of THC, and even personalize your experience based on your individual tastes. More importantly, terpenes may hold the key to treating many medical conditions. We look forward to more reliable research being conducted and published to help the public understand the potential of terpenes.

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