The Ultimate Guide to Terpenes [Everything You Need to Know]

ultimate terpene guide
November 20, 2018 By Stoner

What Are Terpenes?

In short, terpenes are hydrocarbons that occur naturally in just about every plant on Earth. They even occur in insects and some animals. The primary detectable function of terpenes is to attract helpful bugs and ward off harmful predators that may want to eat the plant. Terpenes do this through emitting odors, which can ward off and attract certain animals and insects through chemical reactions in their bodies and brains.

Terpenes exist in the form of oils, which can be extracted from plants directly to create CBD oil and other extracts that are geared more towards medicinal use in order to treat specific health issues such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • And more…

These oils can also be extracted in the form of terpineol, which is a purer form of the oils, which lacks an oxygen atom in the molecular structure, allowing it to be consumed orally rather than through vaporization. Terpineol is often used in cannabis edibles.

Where Are Terpenes Found in Cannabis?

Terpenes grow on what are called trichomes, on the outer leaves of cannabis plants.

You ever look at a photo of a nugget of some beautiful, dank flower (or even better – look at it in real life) and see those little hairs that are sticking out everywhere? These are trichomes. They are responsible for producing the terpenes found in the different strains of marijuana.

What Terpenes Are Found in Cannabis?

Different strains of cannabis have different types of terpenes in them. With over 20,000 known types of terpenes, it would be impossible to describe them all. However, cannabis strains are mainly comprised of a few key terpenes which determine things such as:

  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Effects on the body and mind

Each terpene is different, and as a result, strains are now in the beginning stages of being bred in order to be heavy in one specific type of terpene, in order to give the user a unique and predictable experience for both recreational and medicinal purposes.

How Do Terpenes Work in Your Body?

Scientists are just beginning to scratch the surface of understanding how terpenes work in the human body, both inside of the food we eat, and inside of cannabis that some people smoke.

To sit here and tell you that anyone has a clear and comprehensive understanding of how terpenes work in the human body would be nothing short of a lie.

However, this does not mean that we cannot learn from what scientists do know about terpenes so far.

It is known that certain types of terpenes each have different effects on the human body. Some are best for relaxation, while others act more as stimulants. When it comes to how they work inside the human body, terpenes work in conjunction with cannabinoids found in cannabis in order to boost the effects of the strain.

They can also increase or decrease the effects of THC, which is the main psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

While it is hard to determine exactly how much each terpene affects the strain due to complex chemistry and dosing, we are beginning to learn more and more each day about how terpenes affect the human body.

How Do Terpenes Affect Your Smoking Experience?

The two main things that terpenes affect during your smoking experience are the flavor, and the overall experience.

Flavor

Naturally, because about 70% of your sense of taste is directly related to your sense of smell, and terpenes being responsible for scent, the flavor of marijuana strains are greatly influenced by the type of terpenes they contain. In the section below, we will describe more about how terpenes affect the flavor of cannabis.

Effect

Terpenes also affect your “high” when smoking or ingesting cannabis. This can come in the form of the mood you feel, the medicinal, mental and physical effects of the marijuana itself. In the next section, we also explain which terpenes are responsible for certain feelings and experiences.

What Are the Main Types of Terpenes and How Do They Affect Your Experience?

As we said earlier, there are more than 20,000 terpenes occurring in thousands of plant species around the planet.

When it comes to the types of terpenes contained in marijuana, there are 10 main types of terpenes that are directly responsible for the effects of your smoking experience, the flavor, and the benefits of the strain you are using.

The 10 Main Types of Terpenes Found in Marijuana

These are the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis strains. Each one has its own unique taste, effects, and uses when it comes to consumption.

Certain terpenes are more prevalent in certain types of strains. Selective breeding is making it easier for scientists to develop strains that contain certain amounts of specific terpenes in order to yield more favorable effects, uses, and better tastes.

Type of Terpene

Description

Scent & Flavor

Effects

Myrcene
Myrcene is one of the most commonly found terpenes in cannabis.

It is known for its musky smell and sedative effects. 

This type of terpene is found in all marijuana strains and is the most prevalent terpene in cannabis, but is more prevalent in indicas.

The smell of Myrcene is most often compared to cloves and citrus.

For example of the smell you can expect, and flavor profile.

Myrcene is known for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and sedative qualities.
Humulene
Humulene is best known for its ability to calm people down and inhibit appetite.

It is known for its hoppy smell, and is also found in hops, basil and correander.

This type of terpene is found mainly in sativa dominant strains.

Humulene has a spice like taste, which is earthy and herbal.

It produces similar smells in strains as well. Some compare it to other spices and herbs such as hops and basil.

Humulene is also used as an antiseptic like Myrcene.

It is also commonly used to suppress appetite for those who have eating disorders.

Caryophyllene
Caryophyllene is found in almost all marijuana strains.

It is also found in thai basil, cinnamon and black pepper, giving it a spicy taste and scent.

It is best known for its ability to work as an antiseptic, muscle relaxant, and for the treatment of insomnia.

Caryophyllene is said to smell and taste similar to pepper and thai basil, as well as other spices such as cinnamon, all of which have high levels of this type of terpene.

It is most prevalent in indica dominant hybrids such as gorilla glue.

This type of terpene is known for its ability to act as an anti-depressant and for that reason it is used in conjunction to treat anxiety.

This terpene also acts as an anti-oxidant and is found in many anti-inflammatory foods.

Pinene
Pinene is found primarily in Sativa dominant strains.

It also naturally occurs in sage, conifers, and pine needles in nature, giving it a bit of a piney taste and smell to it.

Pinene is best known for its ability to boost memory retention, alertness, and focus improvement.

Pinene heavy strains have a piney taste and scent to them, hence the Pine in Pinene.

This terpene is also found in sage, pine needles, and other evergreens in nature.

Pinene is best known for its effects on memory, energy levels, and focus.

Pinene heavy strains have been reported to boost energy in users and improve their ability to focus on tasks.

Limonine
Limonine is most commonly found in sativas, but can also be found in hybrids and energy boosting indicas.

Limonene, as the name implies, is found in citrus such as lemon and limes, and also in spices like peppermint.

This type of  terpene is best known for its ability to boost energy, and reduce anxiety and depression.

Limonine has a very citrus like smell and taste to it.

Strains that contain Limonine have flavors that are similar to lemon and other citrus fruits.

Common strains like Lemon Haze and Lemon Kush contain high amounts of Limonine.

Limonine is a terpene that helps to reduce anxiety and improve mood.

Strains that are high in Limonine increase energy levels while also reducing anxiety, a great combination.

Limonine is also a terpene with anti-fungal effects. Citrus has similar properties.

Linalool
Linalool is a type of terpene found in sativa dominant strains, but can also be found in indicas.

Linalool is known for its antidepressant and pain killing abilities, but is also said to have sleep inducing effects.

Linalool has a sweet, almost flower like taste profile, as it is found in lavender, birchwood, and mild citrus plants.

Linalool is a type of terpene that is sweet in taste and smell.

Many compare the smell to lavender and other sweet flowers, even sometimes citrus.

Linalool is an anxiety reducing terpene which also is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.

On top of this, linalool is also known widely as an anti-depressant.

Terpinolene
Terpinolene is primarily found in sativa dominant strains.

It is a terpene known for its antifungal and antibacterial uses, as well as is sedative nature.

Terpinolene is also found in spices such as sage and rosemary and also in flowers such as lilac.

Terpinolene is known for bringing out a sweet, woody and herbal taste.

The smell of this terpene is peppery and earthy in nature.  

Terpinolene is known and used for its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

It is also used commonly among users as a sedative to help reduce insomnia and aid in sleep and relaxation.

Eucalyptol
Eucalyptol is found commonly in strains that are primarily sativa dominant such as haze and kush.

This type of terpene is best known for its inflammation reduction, pain relief, healing, and mental clearing qualities.

In nature, eucalyptol occurs in tea tree leaves, sage, bay leaves, and eucalyptus.

Eucalyptol is a type of terpene that has a similar smell to the plants it is found in: earthy, with a tinge of spice and leafy tastes.

Eucalyptol has a sage like smell to it, and it is typically found in bitter smelling things like insect repellant.

Eucalyptol is a terpene that is used in order to increase immune system efficiency.

It is also used often to treat pain and inflammation as well as for mental stimulation and mental clarity.

Nerolidol
Nerolidol is a secondary terpene, meaning it is not as prevalent as some other primary terpenes, and acts in the background to enhance their effects.

It is found in lemongrass, rose, and apples, and has a similar smell and taste.

This terpene is still quite new to scientists, and is currently only known for its sedating effects.

Nerolidol is found naturally in lemon grass, jasmine, and tea tree.

It gives off a sweet, honey like taste and smell that can be compared with the smell of roses and the taste apples.

Nerolidol is a type of terpene that is currently known for its sedative effects.

This type of terpene is also being investigated currently for other effects on the human body such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal benefits.

Borneol
Borneol is found in sativa dominant strains like haze.

This type of terpene, best known for its anti-inflammatory effects is also known to reduce the likelihood of dehydration, decrease pain, relax muscles, and induce sedation.

Borneol is also found in thyme, ginger, sage, and marjoram.

Borneol is a type of terpene which has a piney, earthy taste to it, with a bit of a minty aftertaste.

Strains that are high in borneol have more of a mild smell that has hints of spice to it.

Borneol is a terpene that is used in modern medicine for anxiety relief, anti-inflammatory uses, mental stimulation and as an antidepressant.

What Type of Terpenes Are Best For You

Depending on the type of problem you are facing, or the type of feeling you are looking for in a strain, different terpenes may be best for you. The following section depicts which terpenes are best for certain health needs, and which strains contain which terpenes.

Stress Relief

Terpenes for Stress Relief

  • Borneol
  • Limonine
  • Linalool
  • Caryophyllene

Strains for Stress Relief

  • Haze
  • Kush
  • Hybrids
  • Indicas

Relaxation / Sedatives

Terpenes for Relaxation / Sedation

  • Terpinolene
  • Borneol
  • Caryophyllene
  • Nerolidol
  • Myrcene

Strains for Relaxation / Sedation

  • Kush
  • Sativa Dominant Strains
  • Hybrid Strains

Anti-Inflammatory

Terpenes for Inflammation Treatment

  • Myrcene
  • Caryophyllene
  • Linalool
  • Eucalyptol
  • Nerolidol

Strains for Inflammation Treatment

  • Sativa Strains
  • Indica Strains
  • Hybrid Strains

Appetite Booster

Terpenes for Appetite Boosting

  • Myrcene

Strains for Appetite Boosting

  • Sativa Dominant Strains

Appetite Suppressor

Terpenes for Appetite Suppression

  • Humulene

Strains for Appetite Suppression

  • Sativa Dominant Strains

Alertness

Terpenes for Mental Alertness

  • Pinene
  • Limonene

Strains for Mental Alertness

  • Sativa Dominant Strains
  • Hybrid Strains

Tips for Activating Terpenes

Depending on the type of terpene you are trying to activate in your strain, there are various tips and tricks you can use to get the most out of your terpene experience. Mainly, the two most influential factors being:

  • Temperature
  • Method of Consumption

Temperature

We took the liberty to list the boiling points of the 10 most common terpenes in the table above. Each of them also has a boiling point, though this is only relevant if you are trying to create concentrates from the oils.

Depending on the terpene you are using, you will want to make sure that you are dabbing, baking, or smoking at the correct temperature in order to release the right chemicals from the terpene oils in order to get the desired effects.

Method of Consumption

Depending on the way you consume or expose yourself to certain types of terpenes, the effects will be much different.

Overall, there are many different ways to activate terpenes and reap the benefits of them. New methods are being discovered every day.

The most common methods of ingestion or use of terpenes are:

Essential Oils and Lotions

Essential oils and lotions are often infused with terpenes in order to help heal, reduce inflammation, kill pain, and act as an antibacterial and antifungal.

Many massage parlors and other homeopathic medicine institutions use essential oils in their treatments regularly.

Edibles

Cannabis infused edibles can be baked in order to infuse very specific terpene profiles. This is a great way to avoid smoke, but still ingest and activate specific terpenes that can help you deal with pain, anxiety, inflammation, focusing issues and more.

Smoke and Vaporization

Smoking is admittedly one of the least effective ways of ingesting terpenes. While it still works, and you still reap the benefits of the terpenes, you are ingesting smoke. On top of this, unless you are dabbing the perfect temperature, it is difficult to know whether you are activating all of the terpenes in your strain to the best of your ability.

When it comes to activating terpenes, vaporizing is much more effective because the terpenes are oils which need to be heated properly in order to give off the right chemicals to enhance your experience and give the effects you are looking for.

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