DEC 20, 2022 12:00 PM PST

The Most Prominent Terpenes in Cannabis

WRITTEN BY: Helaine Krysik

Terpenes, which play an important role in the cannabis plant, are the compounds responsible for the unique bouquet present in each particular strain. The scents and flavors that you enjoy in your favorite weed varietals are all influenced by terpenes, and typically include citrus, diesel, woody, pine, skunky, coffee, spicy, or herbal notes.

However, terpenes do more than provide the smell and taste in your favorite weed strains. Terpenes also interact with the other compounds in the cannabis plant to enhance the strain’s effects, a phenomenon also referred to as the entourage effect.

Research also shows that terpenes significantly help enhance the therapeutic effects in cannabis, and also help to temper the intensity of THC.

While there are more than 200 terpenes present in the cannabis plant, most of them are only present in very small quantities. However, a handful of them are much more abundant - here’s what those are and what they do:

Mercene – earthy and herbal, associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain-relieving qualities.

Caryophyllene – hoppy, with clove and rosemary scents, associated with pain relief, anti-inflammation, and wound healing.

Pinene – piney and associated with helping to prevent ulcers and improve airflow.

Limonene – citrusy and known for protecting the cardiovascular, liver, and gastrointestinal tissues.

Why are the terpenes present in cannabis in the first place? It’s because plants produce them as a protection against predators and environmental dangers.

Terpenes also help plants regenerate and oxygenate. Because of these regeneration qualities, researchers believe that terpenes have the potential to boost immunity in humans.

While all of this research is preliminary and not yet considered conclusive, these results are very promising. As more opportunities for cannabis research open up in the years ahead, we can expect to learn much more about terpenes and the healing qualities they may provide us.


Sources: Leafly, British Journal of Pharmacology, International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, Journal of Natural Products, Journal of Food Biochemistry

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Helaine is a cannabis industry writer and marketing consultant. She has been active in the Illinois cannabis industry since 2020, and writes for a variety of national publications.
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