What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds that are produced by a variety of plants and a few insects. For today’s lesson, the terpenes we’ll be focusing on are the cannabis terpenes. Weed terpenes are the pungent oils that give cannabis its distinct flavors; a few examples are citrus, berry, mint & pine. The primary terpenes are myrcene, linalool, limonene, alpha bisabolol, delta 3 carene, borneol, pinene, eucalyptol, terpineol, caryophyllene and camphene. Each terpene has its own distinct medicinal value other than just their unique scents. Their scents are:

  • Myrcene, smells earthy and herbal

  • Linalool smells like sweet like flowers and candy

  • Limonene smells like citrus

  • Alpha bisabolol smells like chamomile flowers

  • Delta 3 carene smells like rosemary

  • Borneol smells minty and spicy

  • Pinene smells like pine trees

  • Eucalyptol smells like eucalyptus

  • Terpineol smells like limes and pine trees

  • Caryophyllene smells like black pepper and cloves

  • Camphene smells like strong pungent woodlands and fir needles

How Are Terpenes Like Myrcene and Linalool Helpful?

The terpene myrcene is a useful antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, muscle tension, sleeplessness, pain, inflammation and depression. Myrcene rich strains include Pure Kush, El Nino, Himalayan Gold, Skunk #1, and White Widow. Linalool helps fight anxiety, convulsions, depression and acne. For those looking for strains with high amounts of linalool, try G-13, Amnesia Hazed, Lavender, and LA Confidential.

What is Limonene and Bisabolol?

Limonene's medicinal values are antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, helps dissolve gallstones, mood-enhancer; helps treat gastrointestinal complications, heartburn and depression. Strains high in Limonene are OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Jack the Ripper and Lemon Skunk. Alpha bisabolol helps treat symptoms of inflammation, is an anti-irritant, antioxidant, anti-microbial and analgesic. Strains with high levels of Bisabolol are Harle-Tsu, ACDC, Pink Kush, Headband, OG Shark, Rockstar and Master Kush.

How Does Pinene, Eucalyptol and Terpineol Terpenes Help?

Pinene's medicinal values are anti-inflammatory, helps improve airflow to lungs, helps counter the effects of short-term memory loss associated with THC and promotes alertness. Jack Herer, Dutch Treat, Romulan, Blue Dream, Island Sweet Skunk, OG Kush, and Strawberry Cough are strains that have high levels of pinene. Eucalyptol terpenes help relieve pain, slows bacterial growth, anti-fungal, reduces inflammation, inhibits cancer cell growth, and antioxidant. Terpineol is an antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-tumor, sedative, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial and anxiolytic. Strains with high amounts of terpineol are Jack Herer, White Widow, Girl Scout Cookies and OG Kush.

Caryophyllen and Camphenes Terpenes are Both Anti-Inflammatories.

Caryophyllene helps relieve pain, slows bacterial growth, relieves symptoms of depression, reduces inflammation systematically, inhibits cancer cell growth, prevents oxidation damage to other molecules in the body, helps relieve anxiety and slows damage to the nervous system and the brain. Currently, caryophyllene is being studied for the treatment of alcohol abuse, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease neuro-inflammation/brain ischemia. Camphene is an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Strains loaded with camphene terpenes are Ghost OG, Strawberry Banana, and Mendocino Purps. The medicinal effects of Delta 3 is an antihistamine, helps reduce perspiration and menstrual flow.

Delta 3 Is the Dry Mouth and Dry Eyes Culprit.

The delta 3 terpene is the main culprit that causes dry mouth and dry eyes when smoking cannabis. Delta 3 Carene is also an anti-inflammatory, multiple sclerosis, central nervous system depressant, anxiety and insomnia. Strains high in delta 3 carene are Arjan's Ultra Haze #2, Super Silver Haze, and Super Lemon Haze.

How Many Different Types of Terpenes are There?

There are over 100 different terpenes that have been identified and each terpene provides different medicinal values. Anyone who wishes to amplify their desired effects can ask their favorite budtender to direct them to the perfect budskie. Cannafo has links to dozens of dispensaries from all across the country with addresses and phone numbers. If you have questions about the strains listed, Cannafo has all the strains information available online. If there are other strains you would like to review, Cannafo has over 8,000 strains in their index and they are updated on a regular basis.

As stated by The Strain Domain, “terpenes act synergistically with cannabinoids in areas like reducing inflammation, pain relief and preventing certain cancer growth to even counteract depression. It’s like stacking discounts; two or three together gets you a bigger value than each individually.” In other words, terpenes give us a bigger bang for our buck.

There Are So Many Different Strains and Terpene Types to Choose from, What Should I Pick?

It depends on what you’re in the mood for. For the average Joe, most people choose an energetic and uplifting herb in the morning. A strain like, Agent Orange, has the terpene, limonene, which smells like citrus. According to Cannafo, “Agent Orange has that buzz that is up and motivating. Helpful for those dealing with depression or lethargy by giving them a boost in mood and trigger the giggles.”

What Strain Should I Take During the Busiest Hours of the Day?

During the daytime, most people need an herb that helps them focus, without taking away the medicinal value they’re going for. An herb like, Shipwreck and Hashplant, with the terpene caryophyllene is perfect for those who have aches but still need to juggle a busy lifestyle. Expect this herb to smell like pepper or black licorice. After work, it’s time to kick up our feet. Some pop open a beer, others smoke myrcene enhanced weed.

What Should I Consume During the Evening?

During the night; some of us need a sleep aid and Grape Ape helps with just that. Grape Ape is a heavy indica that helps combat sleep and chronic pain. For those seeking an intense aphrodisiac, look for these strains; Green Crack, Granddaddy Purple, Atomic Northern Lights, Hindu Skunk, Sour Dream. The terpene in these strains are mostly sweet and earthy, reminiscent of the terpenes myrcene and linalool.

Where Else Can I Find Terpenes?

Terpenes can be found in several natural species of plants. Mushrooms have high levels of myrcene and humulene while lemons produce lots of limonene. These plant’s terpenes are extracted and put into creams and lotions, soaps, massage oils, candles, etc. When my wife wants to relax, she’ll inhale Bhang Blackberry Kush with the hint of lavender, share a bowl with me and enjoy an incredibly indulgent body massage with a lavender base oil. Adding lit candles with similar scents can also heighten the effects.

I Like to Smoke BHO, is there Anything Terpene Related for Me?

For those who enjoy a rich, fresh flavored terpene, then live resin may be the optimal choice. Live Resin is created by squeezing the whole flower (instead of squeezing dried buds) which captures the intense aroma that would otherwise get lost in the curing process by over 55%. The cost of live resin is generally more expensive, higher than purchasing regular buds or dabs. Just to give you an idea, it has been documented that 1gm of Live Resin cost anywhere between $75 up to $120. Live Resin can be found in almost every dispensary, but to double check availability, check out Cannafo’s database and give your local dispensary a call.

Terpenes and Food Combinations

To increase the medicinal effects of terpenes and cannabis there are a few foods that provide a great combination like curry, mangos, beer and coffee. Consuming these items before smoking will increase the medicinal effects from cannabis. Fair warning, the effects can feel three times as strong with medible consumption. For example, an medible meant to cause relaxation will inadvertently put you to sleep. Same with a medible like a 100mg Squib (jelly candy) that’s meant to create the sensation of alertness will cause uncontrollable feeling of needing to move about furiously, like ADHD.

Ever Heard Curry and Raw Mangos Increases the High?

Curry (especially milk based) is heavy in herbs and spices that help send the terpene stock sky high; that and estragole mixed with myrcene creates the perfect combination of chemicals that help increase the cannabis benefits when smoked. Raw mangoes are rich in myrcene, and they are best consumed at least an hour before smoking cannabis because it promotes that extra baked feeling; it also increases and lengthens the euphoria. The vitamin C in raw mangoes also helps counter the junk food munchie cravings.

Does Beer Increase the High as Well?

Beer magnifies the high threefold, because beer is loaded with terpenes due to hops (which are cousins of cannabis). A beer with the dominant hops flavor are full of limonene and pinene (which makes consumers feel less anxious). A few examples of cannabis and beer pairings are OG Kush with Lagunitas IPA; Maui Waui with Pineapple Sculpin; Sour Diesel with St. Bernardus Abt 12; and Super Silver Haze with Summit Pilsner.

What About Coffee and Terpenes?

Coffee combined with caffeine flavored terpenes. A coffee and weed combination does not increase the high feeling, but the aroma combination is wonderful and the effects are best to combat anxiety and attention disorders. The best strains to smoke with coffee are Chocolope, Girl Scout Cookies, Vanilla Kush, Royal Caramel, Chocolate Chunk, Ice Cream, Maple Leaf Indica and Cookies & Cream.

Adam Rhodes

An adventure seeking nerd, nothing too serious but people seem to like him, Adam is also the creator and writer for The Strain Domain

More in Medical


How cannabis affects the mind



You May Also Like


Strain of the month: cherry pie


Strain of the week: gorilla glue


Strain of the month: girl scout cookies autoflower