Cannabis Science

Best Terpenes for Anxiety

woman having a panic attack on floor behind sofa holding heart

Some people with anxiety swear by certain terpenes to help them relax. At the same time, some terpenes induce anxiety in others. What’s clear, terpenes do more than just give plants their signature scent. They are aromatic compounds that could partner with cannabinoids and other cannabis compounds to produce certain effects. Let’s explore whether or not terpenes help anxiety and discuss the best terpenes for anxiety

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Do Terpenes Help Anxiety?

You know some terpenes can help with pain management, but what about anxiety?

People have trusted terpenes to relieve their anxiety either by using weed or aromatherapy. 

To be clear, aromatherapy involves essential oils and they have terpenes in them.

As a matter of fact, a 2020 study on aromatherapy said that animal studies verify the anxiety-reducing properties of essential oils.

There was a 2018 study that examined terpenes, weed, and their effects on anxiety. The study revealed that participants said weed helped with their anxiety

“The results from this survey indicate that many patients find relief from the symptoms of anxiety by using medical cannabis.”

But how can terpenes make you feel less anxious?

The answer may lie in their interaction with your nervous system receptors.

The 2020 study states that an anxiety-reducing terpene such as linalool interacts with your receptors so you can feel the effects.

“The modulation of glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems are likely to be the critical mechanisms responsible for the sedative, anxiolytic, and anticonvulsant proprieties of linalool and essential oils containing linalool in significant proportions.”

When it comes to weed and its effects on your anxiety, a 2020 study states, “The plant’s anxiety-modulating action has largely been attributed to a biphasic interaction with the CB1 receptor.”

What Terpenes are Good for Anxiety?

The 2018 research says while THC can increase anxiety, certain terpenes found in weed can decrease anxiety.

“Cannabis-derived terpenes may have anxiolytic properties, and these include D-limonene, myrcene, α-Pinene, linalool, β-Caryophyllene, humulene, trans-nerolidol, and many others.

In terms of strains, the participants in the study said the following strains were most effective:

  • Bubba Kush
  • Skywalker OG Kush
  • Blueberry Lambsbread
  • Kosher Kush

Trans-nerolidol, according to the study, was the most abundant terpene in the most effective strains. 

We know trans-nerolidol isn’t a commonly discussed terpene. 

To give you a little background, trans-nerolidol is a terpene with a woody, floral scent that not only reduces anxiety but can also be antifungal and neuroprotective. 

We also chatted with Riley Legaspi, Chief Compliance Officer at Eighty Six Group about which terpenes are the best for anxiety.

“For anxiety, the most popular terpenes are linalool, limonene, and eucalyptol.”

Curious about what strains are rich in these terpenes?

Linalool can be found in lavender, basil, and a variety of Indica strains popularly used for easing anxiety such as Do-Si-Dos, according to Legaspi.

Limonene is also a dominant terpene found in Do-Si-Dos and has been widely revered for its stress-relieving effects. Limonene has also been shown to increase serotonin and dopamine levels, reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even OCD.”

Legaspi says another popular terpene for relieving anxiety is pinene, one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis.

Worst Terpenes for Anxiety

Even though terpenes may have anti-anxiety properties, some cannabis enthusiasts say some terpenes put them on edge.

One Reddit user cited limonene as the terpene that caused them anxiety however another person commented that limonene lessens their anxiety. 

Interestingly, limonene is one of the terpenes known for relaxing people. 

In another Reddit thread, people said terpinolene can make anxiety worse. At the same time, there were people in the thread saying they didn’t have that experience. 

Whether or not a terpene can cause anxiety may vary from person to person. 

However, according to the 2018 study, the participants reported that the following strains were least effective at treating their anxiety

  • Chocolope
  • Blueberry Lambsbread
  • CBD Shark
  • Tangerine Dream 

The study also said that the least effective strains may still reduce anxiety.

“An important consideration is that what patients categorized as the “least effective strains” may still be effective anxiolytic agents, but just not as potent as the “most effective strains.”

Myrcene was the most abundant terpene, in the least effective strains according to the study.

The study also mentioned that more research is needed to figure out why some people experience anxiety with some terpenes while others have the opposite effect. 

To be more specific, the environment, dosage, and the entourage effect should be investigated. 


The best terpenes for anxiety are dependent on the individual. Generally speaking, the most ideal terpenes include D-limonene, myrcene, α-Pinene, linalool, β-Caryophyllene, humulene, and trans-nerolidol. If you’re looking for strains, check out your local dispensary for Bubba Kush, Skywalker OG Kush, Blueberry Lambsbread, Kosher Kush, or Do-Si-Dos. If none of these strains work for you, don’t worry, everyone is different. You’re free to experiment with other strains with other terpenes.


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].