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Terpenes and the Cannabis Connection

February 14, 2024

In the ever-evolving world of cannabis, some unsung heroes largely skate under the radar—terpenes.

Cannabis-derived terpenes are as diverse as cannabis strains themselves.

The terpene journey is a rich tapestry of aromas, effects, and experiences. From uplifting citrus nodes to calming lavender whispers, each terpene contributes its unique botanical thumbprint to your cannabis terpene journey.

But how do terpenes affect you, and what the heck are they? To find out, keep reading!

What Are Cannabis Derived Terpenes?

Our terpene journey starts with an understanding of cannabis-derived terpenes.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found inside the cannabis plant—and most plants, for that matter. They give cannabis its distinct scent and flavor.

Terpenes are responsible for the skunk smell most associated with cannabis.

Scientifically speaking, terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbons produced by plants. You can also find them in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Herbs
  • Cannabis

For plants, terpenes help attract pollinators, repel predators, and protect against pathogens. Some even serve as natural pesticides.

But what are the most common cannabis terpenes, and do they hold magical powers you should know about?

Common Cannabis Derived Terpenes


Limonene is found in most citrus plants and is widely known for its distinct flavor. It is a cyclic monoterpene. It exists in two forms: D-limonene and L-limonene. D-limonene is the most common type we’re referring to here.

It is excellent for depression and anxiety. Some research even suggests that it can be used to treat gallstones and reduce cholesterol. It could also be helpful as an anti-inflammatory and has neuroprotective effects.


Alpha-pinene has a piney and earthy aroma. It is commonly found in coniferous trees and pine trees. You’ll also find it in rosemary, basil, sage, and parsley.

Its fragrance is often associated with feelings of freshness and clarity.

Alpha-pinene has been found to be helpful as a sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic—to reduce anxiety, and anti-seizure, anti-cancer, and analgesic. It also has neuroprotective effects against memory loss.


Myrcene has an earthy, musky, and slightly fruity aroma. The fragrance is often described as herbal. You’ll find it in lemongrass, bay leaves, hops, and cannabis.

Myrcene in cannabis interacts with THC to improve the pain and psychoactive effects of the plant. It also reduces inflammation, and when working in conjunction with CBD and Linoiol, it produces powerful effects.


Caryophyllene is a beta-caryophyllene and a terpene that belongs to a larger class of compounds known as sesquiterpenes. It has a spicy, peppery aroma. In fact, you’ll frequently find it in black pepper and cloves.

What sets it apart from other terpenes is that it can also act as a cannabinoid, allowing it to interact with our body’s larger endocannabinoid system.

Some research suggests that caryophyllene is suitable for gastrointestinal issues and atypical Dermatitis. However, researchers are really interested in its ability to act on the CBD2 receptors in the body.

It may also be helpful as an antidepressant, analgesic, or anticonvulsant.


Eucalyptol has a refreshing, minty, slightly spicy aroma. It is excellent for asthma, mucosal hypersecretion, and non-purulent rhinosinusitis. Some research has also shown that it can kill leukemia cells.

Eucalyptol is found in strains with a more minty, herbal aroma. Some people use it as a decongestant.


Borneol is a camphor-like terpene found in various plant species and has a woodsy, herbal, slightly floral aroma. It is a possible treatment for hypertension and blood pressure.

Other studies say it could be used for its neuroprotective benefits.

When present in cannabis, borneol may interact with other cannabinoids to produce the entourage effect.


Citral, as a terpene, has a citrusy aroma. Its citrusy scent is found in countless cannabis strains.

Citral is a relaxant and is helpful in treating gastrointestinal complaints. It is also effective as an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer treatment.


Geraniol is a terpene alcohol found in various plants’ essential oils, contributing to their distinctive aroma. It is a monoterpenoid alcohol. It has a sweet, rosy, floral scent similar to the smell of roses.

Geraniol has possible anti-cancer therapeutic effects.


Guaiol is a sesquiterpene found in certain plants, including cypress pine and guaiacum, and it is widely known to kill dust mites and allergens.

Its aroma is woody, piney, and slightly sweet. It may also hold some anti-inflammatory benefits.

The Role of Terpenes & The Entourage Effect

Cannabis has countless compounds, all working together to create a synergistic effect that scientists call the “entourage effect.” Cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds work together to create a more powerful effect than any one compound.

The hypothesis of the entourage effect states that botanical synergy involves a dominant molecule supported by plant derivatives like cannabinoids and flavonoids.

A few other ways that terpenes influence the entourage effect include:

Aroma and Flavor

Terpenes are directly responsible for the aroma and flavor of cannabis. They are what give cannabis its unique smells and tastes.

Modulation of Cannabinoid Effects

Terpenes are adept at modulating the effects of cannabinoids by interacting with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Some terpenes may enhance or diminish the impact of cannabinoids, influencing the overall experience.

Interestingly, research indicates that terpenes can interact with various receptors in the body, including neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. This means that each terpene uniquely affects the body’s receptors. As it turns out, terpenes DO matter.

Enhanced Bioavailability

Terpenes enhance the bioavailability of cannabinoids, influencing how effectively they are absorbed and utilized by the body. Improved bioavailability can contribute to the overall effectiveness of cannabis in producing desired effects.

Do Terpenes Get You High?

No, terpenes by themselves do not get you “high” like THC, which is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. However, terpenes contribute to the overall cannabis experience by giving the plant its unique aroma, flavor, and overall effects.

The unique synergistic interaction between THC and CBD directly impacts the experience that you enjoy when smoking or ingesting cannabis, and terpenes play a role in how they interact.

So, while terpenes don’t get you high, they do modulate the overall cannabis experience.

What Are Terpene Profiles?

Terpene profiles refer to the unique combinations and concentrations of terpenes in a particular cannabis strain. The scent, flavor, and potential therapeutic effect make up the terpene profile.

Each strain of cannabis has its combination of terpenes like limonene, pinene, or myrcene, as we covered above. The proportion of those terpenes depends on the strain.

Because there are so many different cannabis strains with terpene profiles, it’s essential to work with an experienced budtender to understand your options.

At Blue Oak, our budtenders are highly trained and happily give you a complete rundown of the terpene profile of every strain we carry!

What Are The Best Terpenes for Anxiety?

Multiple terpenes associated with anxiety reduction have been identified, including:

  • Linalool—is associated with scents like lavender.
  • Myrcene—Found in certain indica strains.
  • Beta-Caryophyllene—The black pepper spicy aromas in many cannabis strains.
  • Humulene—Widely known for its anti-inflammatory and appetite-suppressant properties.

Keep in mind your individual experience with these terpenes may vary.

Choose The Right Terpenes for The Ultimate Cannabis Journey

As we have seen, cannabis-derived terpenes influence the aroma, experience, and therapeutic benefits you enjoy from cannabis.

Whether you want to reduce anxiety or increase your alertness, terpenes make a difference.

We warmly invite you to visit Blue Oak Dispensary in-store to learn more about terpenes and the terpene profile of your favorite cannabis strain.

Our helpful team is happy to answer any questions you have!

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