Love terpenes and cannabis? Discover the 10 most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant!
If you’ve ever taken a close look at the glandular trichomes found on cannabis buds, congratulations! You’ve found one of the densest accumulations of terpenes on the cannabis plant! These special hydrocarbons are what dictate the overall aroma, flavor, and effects of each cannabis strain. But what are the most common terpene isolates in cannabis?
Well, that’s a bit tricky to determine since they’re so volatile. The British Journal of Pharmacology says that monoterpenes (mainly limonene, myrcene, and pinene) are lost at a rate of roughly 5% before cannabis processing and lose additional yields when buds are dried and stored. That leads to higher relative proportions of sesquiterpenoids like beta-caryophyllene. Additionally, flowers tend to have more limonene and pinene to repel insects, while lower fan leaves have more bitter sesquiterpenoids to deter grazing animals (1).
Essentially, determining the precise “top 10” terpenes in cannabis depends on a large number of factors (when terpenes are measured, what part of the plant they’re measured from, etc.). Different strains, for example, can have wildly different terpene profiles.
So, for today’s purposes, let’s take a look at ten of the most common terpene isolates found in cannabis plants. Read on for all the details!
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Common Cannabis Terpenes
Myrcene is a particularly important terpene isolate because it’s found in large amounts in Indica strains. Admittedly, there are several Sativa strains that are myrcene-dominant, so it’s not completely accurate to say that myrcene content dictates whether or not a strain is considered Indica or Sativa.
Either way, myrcene has powerful sedative, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties (2). It’s commonly found in lemongrass, thyme, basil, and ripe mangos. You can also find it in beer because it’s one of the most dominant terpenes in hops oil. If you’re looking for a myrcene-dominant strain, give Blue Dream a try!
If you’re a fan of citrus-forward strains, then Limonene-dominant strains are right up your alley. Found in fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits, this isolate has a mouth-puckering, undeniably citrus flavor. Limonene is mood-lifting, energizing, and usually found in the most stimulating of sativas.
As an essential oil, Limonene has been used for therapeutic purposes for centuries due to its unique health benefits for your skin and stomach (3). It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory (4), and may even help wounds heal quicker (5). If you’re looking for sunny limonene-dominant strains, try Clementine, Mimosa, or King Louie XIII.
If you enjoy the smell of pine trees as you walk through the forest, you’re already a fan of this terpene isolate. Unsurprisingly, alpha-pinene is found in conifer trees like pine, but also in plants like rosemary, eucalyptus, and even orange peels. It has a sharp aroma with hints of cedarwood and pine that feels camphoraceous.
Healers have used a-pinene for centuries. They’d scrape bark from coniferous trees, make a resin, and use this to treat people with congestion or parasitic infections. That’s probably because alpha-pinene is a powerful anti-inflammatory (6), antimicrobial (7), and it even has potential as a memory aid (8). For strains with lots of alpha-pinene, look no further than Blueberry or Pineapple Express.
We have Beta-Caryophyllene to thank for the spicy, peppery taste of black pepper and the woodsy smell of plants and oils like clove oil, copaifera oil, basil, hops, oregano, lavender, rosemary, and true cinnamon.
What’s particularly interesting about beta-caryophyllene, however, is that it acts as a dietary cannabinoid because it binds to CB2 receptors. This helps provide therapeutic benefits for conditions like inflammation, pain, and osteoporosis (9). For strains with lots of beta-caryophyllene, check out Wedding Cake and GSC.
If you’re a fan of the scent of lavender, you’ve already experienced the floral aroma of Linalool. Obviously, you can find it in lavender, but it’s also found in plants like laurels, mints, rosewood, and more. Its scent is floral-forward with just a hint of spice and it’s commonly used in personal care products for its aroma and soothing properties.
Not only is linalool a powerful anti-inflammatory, but it’s also an analgesic, anti-epileptic (10), and sedative. So, if you’ve ever wondered why lavender is so calming, now you know! Strains with lots of linalool include GSC and Do-Si-Do.
Also known as Humulene, this terpene is one of the other isolates responsible for that delicious hoppy beer flavor. It’s what gives hops its unique earthy and woodsy aroma, but it’s also found in ginseng, sage, and more. Its flavor is uniquely earthy with a bitter woody overtone.
It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory (11), antibacterial (12), and can even deter insects. If you’re interested in strains with high levels of alpha-caryophyllene, try Thin Mint GSC, Super Lemon Haze, Chemdawg, and Forbidden Fruit.
Found in cumin, lilac, apples, tea tree, and even conifers, this isolate has a unique aroma that manages to be herbal, piney, and citrus all at the same time. Because of that, you may find terpinolene around the house in tea tree oil, body lotions, soaps, perfumes, and cleaning products.
This complex isolate is also an antioxidant, may have anti-cancer properties (13), and it’s also antimicrobial (14). One of the most terpinolene-dense strains is Jack Herer, but you’ll also find terpinolene in strains like Trainwreck and Ghost Train Haze.
While it may sound somewhat similar to our last isolate, alpha-terpineol has a very different aroma and flavor. Found in cajeput, pine, bitter orange trees, and myrtaceous trees, Alpha-Terpineol’s aroma is that of flowers, limes, and a hint of pine. Its antibacterial effects make it great for treating acne, but also for cleaning surfaces. Certain cannabis strains with lots of terpineol are also prized for their ability to help users fall into a blissful night's sleep. For a cannabis strain with terpineol, try Fire OG.
If you’re a fan of chamomile tea, you’ll love this isolate. Alpha-Bisabolol can be found in plants like German Chamomile or certain types of shrubs. Its taste and aroma are slightly woody, floral, and a bit on the earthy side.
It’s quite popular in topical products because of a host of beneficial properties. For example, its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties make it an excellent addition to many personal care products. Admittedly, you won’t experience some of those effects from smoking cannabis, but the gentle flavor is still pretty enjoyable. To try it yourself, we recommend strains like White Runtz and Gelato.
You may have guessed this already, but Valencene is found abundantly in Valencia oranges. Additionally, this isolate is found in other citrus fruits like grapefruit, nectarines, and tangerines. Obviously, its scent is very citrus forward with subtle woody notes. For strains with lots of Valencene, look no further than Banana Kush, Maui Wowie, and Master Kush.
Enjoy Cannabis and Terpenes All Day Long
We would love nothing more than to discuss terpenes all day, so contact us today if you have any questions about adding terpenes to your products.