Cannabis Science

What are Terpenes in Weed?

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The reason why you love cannabis lies in the chemicals found in it. You may be familiar with chemicals called cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Another chemical that makes weed your favorite plant is the terpenes. So, what are terpenes in weed? Here’s what we know. 

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What Do Terpenes Do in Weed?

Terpenes are chemicals found in weed and other plants that are responsible for their smell. If you’ve ever smelled a plant and thought it smelled citrusy or piney, you’re smelling terpenes. 

While terpenes make plants smell good, their primary purpose is to protect the marijuana plant from predators like insects. 

But terpenes aren’t only great for plants, they can be good for us too. 

As a matter of fact, scientists are looking at the role of terpenes in the medical field. 

A 2019 article mentioned that cannabis is a common source of medical terpenes. That may be due to the medicinal properties of weed. The article says, “This plant contains many medicinal properties like anticancer, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antihyperglycemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiparasitic.” Terpenes may be part of the reason why weed has these medicinal properties. 

In addition to that, the terpenes in weed may:

  • Alleviate anxiety
  • Dampen depressive symptoms
  • Reduce stress
  • Have antifungal properties 
  • Have antibacterial properties 

What Terpenes are Found in Weed?

There are hundreds of terpenes in weed, however, there are some that are focused on more than others. Here are some widely known terpenes found in weed:

  • Linalool
  • Pinene
  • Limonene
  • Myrcene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Humulene

Different Terpenes and What They Do 

If you want a particular effect from weed, you can look at the cannabinoid and terpene profile that will help you achieve that. That’s easier to do if you get your products from a dispensary that has specific details on the product. 

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We have detailed guides on many terpenes we’re about to cover. Here is a list of different terpenes and what they do. 

Linalool

Linalool is often described as having a woody or floral smell and is known for its calming effects. It is one of the main terpenes in lavender. 

You’ve probably used products with linalool before. It is widely used in the perfume and cosmetic industries.

However, stoners turn to this terpene for:

  • Stress relief
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Insomnia relief

A 2018 review also mentioned that linalool has several important properties such as:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic (pain relief)
  • Anticancer
  • Anti-hyperlipidemic (lowers lipid levels)
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anxiolytic (anxiety relief)
  • Antidepressive

At the same time, Medical News Today says, “Linalool does appear to act on the body, but researchers must study its effects further to understand how people can use it to benefit their health.”

If you’re looking for a linalool heavy strain to put in your bong for stress and insomnia relief you can ask your local dispensary for Purple Kush, Lavender, or Granddaddy Purple. 

Pinene

If you love the smell of pine needles and rosemary then you can thank the terpene pinene. 

There are two types of pinene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. The main difference is that alpha-pinene is water soluble while beta-pinene is not. 

In terms of this terpene’s effects on stoners, there are mixed messages.

Verilife says, “While we are certain that pinene contributes to the entourage effect, it’s impossible to identify what feelings or sensations might be specifically due to pinene.”

That’s a fair point since marijuana has so many compounds in it and many people do believe how you feel is due to the entourage effect. 

However, according to Healthline, pinene may be able to:

  • Boost memory
  • Reduce pain
  • Ease some of the unpleasant effects of THC such as nausea and coordination issues 

Just like linalool, pinene may be useful in medicine because it may be:

  • Anticoagulant (inhibits the clotting of blood)
  • Analgesic (pain relief)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial

If you’re interested in pinene-heavy strains, you can ask your dispenser for OG Kush, Bubba Kush, or Big Smooth. 

Limonene

If you love the smell of citrus fruits then you love the smell of limonene. 

This beloved terpene is used in the food and perfume industry. 

However, stoners love limonene because they claim it can help with anxiety and depression. 

In addition to that, a 2018 study says limonene has therapeutic effects. Limonene may be an antioxidant and:

  • Antinociceptive
  • Have gastroprotective effects
  • Anticancer
  • Antidiabetic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antihyperalgesic
  • Antiviral

If you’re looking for limonene-heavy strains, you can check out Jack the Ripper, Wedding Cake, and Berry White. 

Myrcene 

If you’ve ever eaten a mango and felt that your high was enhanced, you have myrcene, the most common terpene, to thank for that. 

Myrcene is not only found in mango but it’s also found in weed and people believe that through the entourage effect, it also makes your high stronger. 

As you may probably imagine, this terpene smells fruity. The smell is also described as earthy. 

Let’s chat about the possible effects of myrcene.

According to Healthline, myrcene, “may help reduce anxiety and insomnia so you can sleep better.”

Verilife also added, “Early research suggests that myrcene may have a sedative effect, aid in the growth of protective mucous lining in the GI tract, and inhibit tumor growth.”

If you’re looking for myrcene-heavy strains, Verilife suggests, White Widow, Tangie, and Jillybean. 

Beta-Caryophyllene

While this terpene may seem unfamiliar, it’s found in a popular spice, black pepper. 

You may also see this terpene being referred to as simply caryophyllene, don’t worry, they’re the same thing. 

According to Healthline, this terpene may:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Alleviate symptoms of depression
  • Improve ulcers

In addition to that, a 2020 study says that beta-caryophyllene may have beneficial effects on:

  • Obesity
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NAFLD/NASH) liver diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Pain 
  • Nervous system disorders

But are stoners feeling any of these effects?

According to a Reddit thread, they are!

One Reddit user said, “I find it has a very calming and uplifting effect. You’ll usually find this terp in strains that are good for anxiety.”

Another said, “I have a medical condition and it helps to relieve pain and is a anti inflammatory so I make sure it’s in some of the stuff I use but I don’t like it.”

Finally, a Reddit user said, “If a strain’s top Terpene is Caryophyllene it will melt my nerve pain hands down.”

If you’re looking for strains with beta-caryophyllene, Verilife suggests Chem Dawg, Sour Diesel, and Original Glue. 

Humulene

Humulene, according to Healthline, is a terpene that smells deeply woody and earthy. This terpene can also be found in hops and cloves. 

In terms of effects, Healthline says Cannabis strains with this terpene can help with inflammation. 

In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, Rise Cannabis says humulene has the following effects:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Anagelsic 

Rise Cannabis also said, “Humulene, along with a number of other terpenes, was reported to show potential for anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic effects.”

This terpene may even suppress appetite. 

If you’re looking for a strain high in humulene, Rise Cannabis suggests Ice Cream Cake, Love Affair, and Animal Mints #10.  

Takeaway

What are terpenes in weed? Terpenes are aromatic compounds that may work alongside cannabinoids to create the entourage effect. Many terpenes are being researched and are showing promising results for healthcare. For stoners, weed strains high in certain terpenes seem to cause various desired effects. 

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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].