What Are Terpenes and What Do They Do

Like cannabinoids (such as CBD’s), terpenes are fragrant compounds found inside the cannabis plant. Similar to essential oils, each terpene can offer the strain different health benefits. Read on to learn more about terpenes and how they can contribute to your overall smoking or vaping experience.

by: Chelsea O. | 03/31/21 1:30PM


When we think about the components that provide health benefits in cannabis, many think about cannabinoids CBD and THC. Nonetheless, while cannabinoids do tend to get more attention, terpenes are just as important, and the interaction that happens between cannabinoids and terpenes creates a number of different benefits for both the user and the plant. Read on to learn more about what terpenes are, the popular benefits for users, and some of the most common terpenes.

Woman mixing thc chemicals with thc background

What Are Terpenes

Terpenes are found in a wide array of plants. However, despite being found in so many different plants, many individuals still associate terpenes with cannabis. This is due to the high concentration levels of terpenes found within the essential oils of the plant. In fact, a single cannabis plant can contain over 200 different terpenes.

These fragrant compounds provide each plant (and strain of plant) the signature flavor and aroma, along with a variety of benefits for both the plant and the user. For example, in nature terpenes can help the plant to protect itself from grazing animals. Common health benefits can range from help with pain or nausea to combating insomnia or inflammation.


What Are the Most Common Terpenes?

Terpenes are volatile compounds (meaning they can easily evaporate, as they have low boiling points) that are extremely fragile. Due to this, terpenes can easily be lost when creating products like extracts when mishandled. While there are ways to safely extract and preserve terpenes, typically dried herbs or flowers are the best option for both preserving the terpenes and obtaining an authentic profile. Some commonly found terpenes for vapers and smokers include (but are not limited to):

  • Borneol
  • Caryophyllene
  • Linalool
  • Limonene
  • Myrcene
  • Pinene
  • Terpinolene

What Are the Benefits of Terpenes?

While there are still many things to explore in the research of terpenes, there are plenty of medical benefits currently known from individual terpenes. For example, myrcene and linalool are both great for helping to alleviate stress. While there are plenty of unknown factors still out there on terpenes, these common terpenes are known for helping you to benefit by:

A beaker with Borneol chemicals in it with a white background


Borneol provides a menthol aroma and is another terpene known for calming and relieving stress within the user. This aromatic compound helps repel insects and is also utilized by traditional Chinese medicine.



Caryophyllene is helpful for treating pain and inflammation. It has a spicy or peppery type of scent and is often used in topicals and ointments. Out of all the terpenes, Caryophyllene is the only one to behave in a similar fashion as cannabinoids, where it can bind to receptors in the brain of the user.

Limonene is a terpene


Limonene is a terpene with a pungent citrus aroma. It is commonly used to help alleviate anxiety, stress, and to elevate the mood of the user. In addition, it is also known to have antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-fungal properties.


Linalool has a strong floral fragrance and provides a number of helpful benefits. Another terpene to promote relaxation, linalool provides anti-anxiety and sedative properties. It is also been shown to provide anti-convulsant, anti-microbial, anti-depressant, and anti-inflammatory properties.


Myrcene is one of the most popular terpenes found in plants. It is a powerful antioxidant, pain killer, and provides users with a highly relaxing or sedative effect. Myrcene typically has a spicy (often considered peppery) or herbal scent.

Pinene being mixed in a lab by a chemist


Pinene has a very signature fragrance and is one you are already familiar with - pine. This terpene acts as a natural insecticide for the plants by protecting them against parasites. For users, pinene has antibacterial properties and is considered a memory enhancer and bronchodilator (This is just a fancy way of saying it opens up the airways in your lungs.). Many asthma sufferers have found this to be a very helpful terpene.


Terpinolene has a smokey or woodsy fragrance. It is known for providing a variety of beneficial properties to the user. Medicinally it has been known to aid with inflammation and anxiety. Plus it also provides antioxidant, sedating, and antibacterial effects.

Terpenes are present in a number of plants. By knowing which ones are present in each strain or concentrate will help you to understand the type of effects profile you can expect. More and more companies are realizing the importance of terpenes and how this compound is responsible for not only the plant’s aroma but also what additional benefits it can provide the user with (such as pain relief or relaxation).

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