Cannabis Terpenes: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

Written by Review Weed Cannabis & Health Enthusiast
Updated: 2023-07-31
Marijuana terpenes explained

Table of Contents

If you have visited marijuana dispensaries in Thailand trying out the different weed strains, you know they all have a unique smell. For example, Jack Herer has a woody, spicy scent, Sour Diesel is skunky, and Gelato has a fruity aroma. It is the cannabis terpenes that cause these distinct fragrances. In other words, terpenes give the cannabis flowers their special signature smells. But that is not all they do.

When you smoke different weed buds with the same THC levels, chances are the experiences will be different. This is also because of terpenes.

So, what are cannabis terpenes, and why should you care?

Weed Review simplifies terpenes, giving a laydown of what they are, how they are helpful, and the terpenes you will encounter while consuming marijuana.

Cannabis terpenes simplified

Terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic chemicals produced by cannabis plants. In fact, most plants and even some animals produce terpenes.

These scented chemicals give the plants their unique smell, flavour profile, and in some cases, their colours.

Cannabis terpenes are found in the trichomes of female flowers. Generally, the more sticky and smelly the bud is, the better the quality.

Aside from carrying a strong scent, terpenes do a lot to ensure the plant’s growth and survival. They can help attract certain insects to spread the pollen and ensure the plant’s reproduction. In other cases, they can repel predators. Terpenes can also help plants maintain a healthy immune system.

Terpenes & human body: Do they get you high?

Research is still growing into how cannabis terpenes affect the human body. What is known at the moment is terpenes, by themselves, do not get you high. They do not induce a psychoactive response like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

That said, terpenes do have plenty of therapeutic properties, such as:

  • Antiviral
  • Antidepressant
  • Pain relief
  • Antimicrobial
  • Calming & stress relieving
  • Anti-inflammatory

Moreover, terpenes work with cannabinoids like THC and CBD (cannabidiol) to determine your experience of smoking the strain (also known as the entourage effect). It is believed that all the compounds of cannabis, when taken together, produce a better result than taking each one individually.

You can think of it as a car. If THC and CBD are the engines giving the car its horsepower, then terpenes are the ones driving this car. The ride will vary depending on the terpene in the driver’s seat.

For example, Jack Herer and Pink Kush have similar THC levels (19-21%). However, the first is for partying and having a good time, while Pink Kush is for relaxing and sleeping after a long day. This can be due to the different terpene profiles; Jack Herer has terpinolene, while Pink Kush is rich in myrcene.

Types of cannabis terpenes

A chart showing commonly found terpenes in marijuana flowers.
A list of well-known terpenes with their scents and potential effects.

There are over 100 different terpenes out there. However, those mentioned here are the ones that you will find in different marijuana strains:

  • Myrcene: It is commonly found in lemongrass, thyme, and other herbs. Featuring an earthy, musky smell, it has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Caryophyllene: Also known as beta-caryophyllene, it is present in cloves and black pepper. It has anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and calming benefits. Strains rich in caryophyllene or myrcene can help reduce chronic pain and improve sleep.
  • Limonene: It has a citrusy, lemon-like scent; it can help improve mood and promote uplifting effects. Strains like Fruitonium and Sour Diesel usually have high levels of limonene.
  • Linalool: Commonly found in lavender, it is known for its stress-relieving and sedating effects.
  • Pinene: This terpene smells a lot like pine trees/pine needles and comes in two types – alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. It is commonly found in strains like Blue Dream, Bubba Kush, and OG Kush. Its most prominent effect is improving mental focus and boosting energy.

How to use terpenes

Thanks to the legal cannabis market in Thailand, there are plenty of marijuana products with rich terpene profiles.

  • Weed Flowers: Many dispensaries these days also display the terpene profile of the strains. You can ask your budtender about how these terpenes can help you or research online.
  • CBD oil: Broad spectrum or full spectrum cannabidiol oils will feature terpenes, but only some vendors display the terpene profile on the label. For example, SEYA Relax 1,000 mg isolate oil is rich in myrcene and pinene, while the 3,000 mg variant contains limonene and terpinolene. Similarly, Midnight 2,000 mg CBD oil features OG Kush terpenes (caryophyllene, limonene, and myrcene). You can visit Weed Review’s cannabidiol oil page to learn more.
  • Terpene essential oils: Few brands, like Topical Terpenes, sell terpene concentrates – which you can add to beverages, food, or beauty products. You can find these products on Bloom.

To make the best of cannabis terpenes, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure you buy a fresh product. Terpene concentrates and extracts will reduce in quality over time – the same holds good for weed buds. Read the packaging date or give the flower a good sniff to gauge the freshness of the product.
  • Try different products to see what works best for you. Terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids to reduce chronic pain, stress & anxiety, improve sleep, and so on. Some experimenting is needed to find the product that meets your expectations.
  • As far as possible, buy your cannabis products from reputed stores only for quality and consistency.