There’s just something about even the smell of the humble hemp plant that soothes the soul! From the earthy tones, to floral bouquets, or even a rush of pure lemony pine — those interesting scents hint at the fact that there’s something special going on at a chemical level inside this incredible plant.
It’s true: one of the most important components of ANY plant’s chemical makeup is the presence of terpenes, a main compound that determines what you can smell from any given plant. Understanding the difference between each one (including their potential effects) will truly deepen your appreciation for them.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into everything you need to know about terpenes.
Terpenes are found in the same glands that make the compounds THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. But it’s not a cannabinoid itself. In fact, terpenes are found in many other plants too, emitting flavors like mint, pine, citrus, and berry. Terpenes give plants it’s unique smell and taste.
In the same vein as other powerfully-scented plants, the development of cannabis terpenes originally developed to lure pollinators closer and to repel predators. Climate, weather, soil type, fertilizers, age, maturation, and even time of day all play a part in how a plant develops its terpenes.
In fact, cannabis alone has well over 100 different kinds of terpenes, with each type of strain more or less having its own unique composition. For instance, the Super Silver Haze strain has herbal, earthy tones alongside peppery and citrus notes. Sour Diesel on the other hand is more peppery and citrus dominant.
The way in which a particular terpene develops still puzzles scientists who continue to study this field.
The wide variety of different flavors you can find in the cannabis plant alone might impress you, but it’s perhaps the terpenes’ ability to interact with the plant’s cannabinoids that is the most truly remarkable. As more research is conducted, it’s starting to look possible that each terpene promotes certain types of bodily effects; that is, some are said to encourage focus and acuity while others may lull you to a gentle sleep (although this has not yet been definitively shown by research yet). For example, the terpene limonene appears to promote a happy feeling, while linalool seems to promote muscle relaxation.
Of course, a terpene’s profile can change depending on the other compounds that are in the plant; this is an interesting circumstance known as the “entourage effect.” Currently, more research is required to see how each terpene interacts with one another.
When buying broad or full spectrum CBD products, it’s important to know how these terpenes will interact with your body.
Here Are The Most Common Terpenes in Cannabis:
- What it Smells Like: Pine
- Vape temperature: 311 degrees F (155 degrees C)
- Potential effects: May cause alertness and memory retention
- Can also be found in: Pine needles, dill, rosemary, parsley, basil
Alpha-pinene, as you might have guess it, has a strong scent of pine. Commonly found in conifer trees, parsley, dill, basil, and rosemary, alpha-pinene is easy to detect. If a chemical profile of your cannabis strain is unavailable, just follow your nose. Popular strains with high alpha-pinene levels include Jack Herer, Blue Dream, and OG Kush. This powerful aromatic molecule doesn’t just smell great, it also contains many medicinal benefits.
A study in 2012 showed that alpha-pinene was a potent anti-inflammatory agent against Acute Pancreatitis, an inflammatory disease with an unknown cause. A study in 2011 showed that alpha-pinene, along with all the different cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis, interact synergistically and amplify anti-inflammatory activity. These results show that alpha-pinene is helpful in inflammation management for diseases such as arthritis, Crohn’s, and multiple sclerosis.
- What It Smells Like: Earthy, musky, herbal cloves
- Vape temperature: 332 degrees F (167 degrees C)
- Potential effects: Relaxing, potentially slightly sedating depending on dose
- Can also be found in: Hops, Mangos, lemongrass, and thyme
Myrcene’s Effects and Benefits
- Analgesic (pain relief)
Beta-myrcene, more commonly known just as myrcene, is another terpene found in several strains of cannabis. Its profile suggests it offers a relaxing sense of ease and similar sedative effects in the consumer, especially in those that are comprised of over 0.5 percent of myrcene. Other places you’ll find myrcene include mangoes, bay laurel leaves, hops, lemongrass, basil, and thyme.
- What It Smells Like: Citrus
- Vape temperature: 348 degrees F (176 degrees C)
- Potential effects: May relieve stress and elevate mood
- Can also be found in: Rosemary, peppermint, juniper, fruit rinds
Ever wondered why Citrus Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Pineapple, and Super Silver Haze smell like some of the sweetest lemons and oranges you’ve never had? That’s the remarkable smell of limonene, another aromatic cannabis terpene found in the glands of the flower’s resin. Not only does it produce the smell of citrus, but limonene may even modify the effects in the user; in particular, it’s a terpene that is thought to improve your mood, making it the so-called “feel-good” terpene.
- What It Smells Lilke: Woody, peppery, spicy cloves
- Vape temperature: 266 degrees F (130 degrees C)
- Potential effects: May relieve stress
- Can also be found in: Cinnamon, black pepper, cloves
Beta-Caryophllene, or just caryophyllene, is a peppery, spicy terpene that you can find in several kinds of edible plants. You can find this stress-relieving terpene in herbs like oregano, hops, basil, and rosemary, or in spices like cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Often, you’ll find caryophyllene in salves and topical cannabis products.
- Smells like: Floral
- Vape temperature: 388 degrees F (198 degrees C)
- Potential effects: May sedate the consumer, and may enhance mood, good for sleep,.
- Can also be found in: Lavender
Just like the other terpenes, linalool is not one that is specific to cannabis. The floral, lavender scent is one that you’ll find spicing up more than 200 kinds of plants. In fact, even people who don’t use the hemp plant at all will consume more than two grams of this terpene naturally each year. It doesn’t stay in the body for very long, but while it’s there, it may relax the user and enhance their mood.
- What It Smells Like: Woody, earthy hops, similar to that of beer!
- Vape temperature: 222 degrees F (106 degrees C)
- Potential effects: Can suppress hunger
- Can also be found in: Coriander, cloves, hops, basil
Humulene may actually suppress hunger, contrary to the common association of “munchies” when consuming cannabis, making it an intriguing choice for stopping yourself from eating too much junk on a sensitive stomach or a new diet. You can find this earthy terpene in hops, basil, clove, and sativa cannabis.
- What it Smells Like: Floral, herbal, and piney
- Vape temperature: 366 degrees F (186 degrees C)
- Potential effects: Relaxing sedative, great for sleep
- Can also be found in: Apples, tea tree, lilacs, nutmeg, conifers, and cumin
Finally, we have terpinolene, which is another hydrocarbon but one that produces an herbal, piney, fresh scent instead of an herbaceous aroma. You’ll find this terpene in nutmeg, conifers, cumin, lilacs, and tea trees, and it is often used in lotions, perfumes, and soaps.
- Smells like: Herbal, woody, sweet
- Vape temperature: 122 degrees F (50 degrees C)
- Can also be found in: Parsley, pepper, mint, orchids, basil, kumquats, and orchids
Found in several kinds of plants and fruit, ocimene is a hydrocarbon identifiable by its herbaceous, sweet, fragrant aroma, often extracted and used as a perfume. It’s also another terpene responsible for defending the plant by repelling predators in their natural environment.
Information on terpenes is certainly itself a labyrinth, especially with thousands of known cannabis strains with all kinds of terpenes and different possible effects. It might even seem like a full-time job–and frankly, it is! If CBD isolate isn’t working for you, we definitely recommend products that have broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD. Again, the entourage effect of the CBD combined with the terpenes can have profound effects on you.