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What Are Cannabis Terpenes and What do They Do?

There’s so much confusion surrounding cannabis terpenes, but we’re here to set the record straight. Put simply, cannabis produces terpenes, and when they work together they accomplish pretty amazing things.

Reading Time - 8 min

With the legalization of cannabis in many states (whether medically or recreationally), more and more people are interested in what it is and what it can do for them. This is exciting for US because cannabis is a terpene-rich plant, and we’re pretty into terpenes. 

Terpenes are what give plants their taste and aroma, and cannabis is no different. Different cannabis strains can have wildly different smells and flavors, and that’s because of terpenes. 

Cannabis Terpenes | Difference between Cannabis and Botanical Terpenes

Like the many different cannabis strains, certain terpenes have their own unique effects and benefits for the human body. Take those effects and combine them with the effects of cannabis, and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. 

Honestly, we could spend DAYS talking about  terpenes and what they do. Don’t worry though, we know you have a life. So, today we’ll just start with the basics.

Alright, class. Let’s begin.

Cannabis Derived Terpenes 101

If you’re already a cannabis connoisseur, feel free to skip ahead. But for those who hear the phrase “cannabis terpenes” and freak out at the c-word, get ready to take some notes. 

First, remember that our terpenes are 100% cannabis free. They’re distilled and isolated for the highest purity possible. So if you don’t want to mess with cannabis at all, you don’t have to! That’s kind of the beauty terpenes. 

If, however, you’re interested in the benefits of cannabis without any psychoactive effects, consider CBD (cannabidiol).

CBD vs. THC - What's the difference?

CBD comes from the industrial hemp plant. Taxonomically though, it’s still the same plant. It looks and smells the same, but it doesn’t have the same psychoactive effect that its cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has. Basically, you won’t get high from CBD.

Difference between THC and CBD | Cannabis Derived Terpenes

Plus, CBD is legal in all 50 states. That usually eases a lot of the anxiety associated with cannabis.

Both compounds however, affect your endocannabinoid system (ECS for short). This is a naturally occurring communication system that has receptors throughout your body, and its purpose is to keep other systems balanced.

The biggest difference between CBD and THC is that the majority of the receptors that CBD interacts with affect your immune system, while a lot of the ones THC interact with are in your brain. That’s what makes CBD a more powerful anti-inflammatory and gives THC more mood-altering properties. 

This is great news because it means that there’s a part of the plant that EVERYONE can benefit from. And considering the wide variety of products that cannabis can be used in, all it takes is a little creativity to make a unique product.

What are cannabis terpenes?

So we’ve covered the basics of Cannabis, but what are cannabis terpenes? It's a fair question when you consider that you can find botanical terpenes in black pepper, flowers, and all sorts of herbs.

The trichomes on cannabis flowers are where both terpenes and cannabinoids are produced. Often they can appear “frosty,” and if looked at under a microscope they look a bit like mushrooms with bead-like heads and narrow stems.

The production of terpene compounds is a natural response of the plant that’s designed to repel predators while drawing in pollinators. These terpenes are what give certain strains their distinct aroma and flavor. 

And bees aren’t the only ones that respond to these smells. We do too! A Forbes article from earlier this year said, “terpenes are like the hardworking herbal roadies to the cannabis flower rock-star. Laboring behind the scenes, terpenes give cannabis its distinctive aromatic and flavor qualities, as well as imparting a host of therapeutic effects.”

But taste and smell COULD be added using artificial means, right? So why are organic, natural terpenes so important for cannabis products?

Why are terpenes important for cannabis products?

Just to be clear, terpenes won’t get you high. But they CAN alter, enhance, or lessen the effects of cannabis. And some some strains wouldn’t have some of their effects at all if it weren’t for the delicate chemical interactions between cannabinoid and terpene compounds. 

Marijuana Break put it best when they said, “We still do not fully understand how terpenes influence the entourage effect. However, we do know that some terpenes bind directly with cannabinoid receptors (for example, beta-caryophyllene binds with CB2 receptors) while others may change the way that THC and CBD act on the endocannabinoid system.”

For legal purposes, allergies, and sometimes just as a personal preference, some people prefer cannabis products that ONLY have CBD or ONLY THC in them (aka-isolates). While we don’t take offense to that, there’s one big item that those products are missing out on--the Entourage Effect.

Cannabis Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

What’s the entourage effect? It’s the way that THC, CBD, and Terpenes work synergistically together to have maximum therapeutic effect. Essentially, when you put them together, they’re more powerful than the sum of their parts. 

Weedmaps specifically says that terpenes, “support other cannabis molecules in producing physiological and cerebral effects. There is synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes, not to mention other secondary metabolites and phytochemicals.” 

Basically, cannabinoids and terpenes have a very special relationship. Certain strains and certain terpenes offer different health benefits; and when combined the effects are even more powerful. 

But which terpenes can you expect to find in cannabis?

Which terpenes can be found in cannabis?

Honestly, there are a LOT of terpenes in cannabis. In fact, it's one of the most terpene-dense plants. It can have up to 200 different terpenes, and we’re STILL discovering new terpenes from cannabis all the time! Crazy, right?

Some of the most well-known terpenes found in cannabis are limonene, myrcene, linalool, alpha-pinene, and the list goes on and on.

While all of our terpenes are botanically derived, as opposed to cannabis derived, you can purchase our terpene blends to experiment with the scents and flavors often found in the cannabis plant! This allows you to truly understand the terpene profile of particular strains. You’re welcome.

The following terpenes are just a few that maybe aren’t as well known, but are still pretty common in the cannabis plant. 

Benefits of Cannabis Terpenes: Terpineol, Valencene, and Geraniol

Outside of cannabis you can find Terpineol in lime blossoms, pine trees, lilacs, and eucalyptus sap. In the past, people often used pine needles for their medicinal properties. And a lot of those properties actually come from terpineol! Some of its possible medical benefits include being an antibiotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and anxiolytic. Cannabis strains high in terpineol are OG Kush, White Widow, Jack Herer, and GSC.

Benefits of Cannabis Terpenes | Abstrax Tech

Valencene is most commonly found in, you guessed it, valencia oranges. It has a citrusy, sweet aroma and it should come as no surprise that it’s found in strains like Tangie and Agent Orange. Not only is it a repellent against ticks and mosquitos, valencene is also an anti-inflammatory and an insectifugal. 

Like the geranium flower for which it’s named, geraniol has a delicate, floral scent. It’s found in tobacco and lemons, and is found in cannabis strains like Master Kush, Headband, Amnesia Haze, and Afghani. This terpene has loads of potential health benefits including being an antioxidant, anti-tumor, neuroprotectant, antispasmodic, and an anti-bacterial. 

Benefits of Cannabis Terpenes: Ocimene, Terpinolene, and Guaiol

Ocimene is a particularly interesting terpene because it’s found in such a wide variety of plants outside of cannabis. You can find ocimene in kumquats, mint, orchids, parsley, mangoes, pepper, and even basil! Cannabis strains that are high in ocimene are Strawberry Cough, Space Queen, and Chernobyl, and some of its health benefits include being an antiviral, antiseptic, decongestant, and powerful antibacterial properties

Benefits of Cannabis terpenes

Terpinolene is often used for soaps and can be found in all sorts of plants--from nutmeg and tea tree to apples and lilacs. Some of its potential benefits include anti-cancer properties, being an antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial. You can find terpinolene in Jack Herer and related strains like Super Jack and Pineapple Jack.

Last, but certainly not least, is Guaiol. Plants like cypress, guaiacum, and pine contain  guaiol and cannabis strains heavy in this terpene include Blue Kush, Liberty Haze, and Chocolope. Historically, this compound has been used to treat many ailments from coughs to constipation. Most notably though, it’s a powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. 

What’s the difference between botanically derived terpenes and cannabis derived terpenes?

Essentially, all terpenes are derived from botanicals. That just means they’re from plants. But when someone says “cannabis derived terpene” they mean that it has specifically been extracted from the cannabis plant.

On Wednesday November 20th, 2019,  in a historic vote, a congressional committee approved a bill that could potentially end the federal marijuana prohibition. While that’s honestly pretty thrilling, it still has to pass a full floor vote. In the meantime, there are still a lot of legal regulations surrounding marijuana and cannabis derived terpenes. 


With the possibility of a federal vote to end marijuana prohibition, we’re hopeful that soon cannabis derived terpenes will be readily available and that more people will consider experimenting with them. Like C&EN said in an article from earlier this year, we’re only just beginning to understand the therapeutic potential of cannabis and “Much less is known about how terpenes work together and in combination with cannabinoids.”

We NEED to keep experimenting with these compounds to discover precisely how terpenoids and cannabinoids work together. These are organic compounds that naturally interact with our bodies to produce downright miraculous results. There's even the possibility that cannabis and its terpenes could decrease the likelihood of acquiring cancer, or even slow down the growth of cancer. That’s worth exploring! 

If you’re ready to take the next step, either with our botanically derived terpenes or cannabis derived terpenes, then contact us today. Terpenes are what we’re passionate about and terpenes are what we do best. We can’t wait to work with you to create sensational products that consumers will not only love, they’ll actually benefit from them too. 


  • Cannabis Terpenes are the compounds produced on the trichomes of cannabis flowers that give each strain its unique scent and flavor.
  • Through a phenomenon known as the Entourage Effect, cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically together to have greater effects than they would alone. 
  • Some of those effects include being antibacterial, antioxidants, antifungal, cancer-fighting, and more.
  • Botanically derived terpenes come from plants (so technically they’re ALL botanically derived. Cannabis derived terpenes just means that those terpenes specifically came from cannabis. 

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