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What are terpenes and what do they do?

You might have never heard the word "Terpenes" before, but it has certainly encountered you in your life. In this guide, we explain:

  • What are Terpenes?
  • What do Terpenes do?
  • How do Terpenes differ from Cannabinoids?
  • What types of Terpenes exist?
  • Do Terpenes exist outside of Cannabis?

Get to know other parts of the cannabis plant, like Flavonoids and Trichomes.

Terpenes are unique compounds that occur in plants and give them their flavor and aroma. Cannabis plants are no exception. Depending on the cannabis strain, terpenes can vary greatly and produce unique fragrances, including grape, citrus, pine, and even diesel fuel, as well as flavors such as peppery, sweet, lemony, and woody.

How do Terpenes differ from Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are unique in many ways compared to terpenes. For example, cannabinoids do not have a pronounced smell or taste. Terpenes do. So do terpenes have psychoactive properties like THC? In itself, the answer is no.

Although marijuana terpenes and cannabinoids are different, they work together in the body when consumed to produce the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the theory that cannabinoids and terpenes actually work together to produce the effects we feel in our body when we consume cannabis.

Cannabinoids can be confusing. Read our article on Cannabinoids today.

What types of Terpenes are there?

There are hundreds of different types of terpenes in cannabis and other plants, but there are some that stand out from the others. These terpenes have unique properties and are often cultivated for things like essential oils and household cleaning products. When it comes to some of the most well-known, here is a list of terpenes:

  • Humulene Terpene: This terpene has been used for centuries, but we have only just begun to truly study and understand it. It's one of the main terpenes in hops, giving beer its hoppy taste.
  • Caryophyllene Terpene: This spicy, woody-scented terpene can be found in many household spices, including cinnamon and black pepper. Aside from common herbs and spices, this terpene can also be found in a variety of popular marijuana strains.
  • Myrcene Terpene: As with all terpenes, we continue to study and understand Myrcene, but there are a few things we know: It has a sweet, earthy fragrance that probably reminds you of mango - because Myrcene gives mango its unique taste.
  • Limonene Terpene: This is one of the most popular terpenes and gives most household cleaning products their lemon scent! Limonene is also a popular botanical insecticide because it repels certain insects. This citrus-scented terpene gives oranges and grapefruits their unique aroma, and it does the same in certain marijuana strains.
  • Pinene Terpene: Pinene is another popular household product and has a sweet, woody aroma, much like your favorite pine tree. From candles to cleaning products to essential oils, Pinene can be found in a variety of products.

There are other terpenes that we are keeping an eye on, including Linalool, Terpineol, Ocimen, Bisabolol, Valencene, Farnesene, and Geraniol. Each of these terpenes is present in cannabis and is being studied for potential additional benefits.

Do Terpenes exist outside of Cannabis?

Yes! Terpenes are key compounds in most plants found in nature. They play an important role in the life of the plant, whether it is rosemary and basil or a cannabis strain. While cannabinoids are unique to marijuana, terpenes are not – so keep that in mind the next time you're making a basil pesto pasta dish or scrubbing your kitchen floor. There's a good chance those scents are coming from terpenes.