Terpenes and their effect on the body

Terpenes and their effect on the body

Together with Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), scientists have begun to show a growing interest in terpenes. The understanding of terpenes opens up new levels of research on the effects of marijuana or cannabis, which translates into new research opportunities for growers and seed banks. In addition, we could soon begin to predict the particular effect of a plant from its aroma. The following is a general introduction to these wonderful substances that give aromas and flavor to your plants and extracts, and offer unique medicinal properties. 

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are biomolecules made up of multiples of the isoprene unit (also known as isoprenoids) and can be linear, cyclic, or both. When terpenes are modified with specific reactions that lead to the formation of functional groups that have atoms other than carbon, such as hydroxyl groups, carbonyls or that have nitrogen, are called terpenes.

Terpenes are produced by several plants, especially conifers, and are the main ingredients of essential oils and resins, mixtures of substances that give each flower or plant a very characteristic smell. Plants produce terpene molecules in their resin, for the purpose of deterring predators and attracting the attention of pollinators. Aromatherapy uses terpenes for the therapeutic goal of regulating temperament, solving sleep problems, improving overall health and much more. 

How Do They (Terpenes) Work?

Terpenes are formed from the very same glands that make up THC and CBD. Some studies reveal that there is synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids. The first ones conform to the same cannabis receptors that we have in the brain, and that alter the chemical effect that they produce on our body.

However, not all terpenes work similarly. Some influence the brain to rely, while the others have the converse effect, like raising our energy levels and mood.

Did you know that consuming a ripe mango a while before smoking enhances the psychoactive and relying effects? The theory is that mango has myrcene, a terpene that you can find only in certain fruits. Myrcene works in synergy with THC and alters its effect.

The Most Common Terpene of Marijuana

Different classes of terpenes can be found in marijuana (maybe more than a hundred); however, their concentrations are of greater significance than their number. For example, when comparing an orange with a lemon. Both the fruits contain a similar kind of terpene called limonene, but in a distinct concentrations. A little variation in the portion is sufficient to make an orange smell different from a lemon.

Here, we have provided a list of the most known cannabis terpenes, along with their usages and effects. 

1. Myrcene

Myrcene is one the most common species of terpenes in marijuana and is part of the most aromatic oils of different varieties of cannabis. You can also find myrcene in other plants, like hops. Some compare the aroma of myrcene with that of the clove. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and analgesic properties.

Usage/Effects Its relaxing effect makes it beneficial for stress or muscle spasms. It acts in synergy with other terpenes, potentiating THC as an analgesic, CBD, and linalool as antipsychotics and the antispasmodic effect of many cannabinoids. It also increases insulin secretion by stimulating glucose.

2. Limonene

Limonene is another example of the most commonly used terpene in marijuana, and as the name implies, it gives off a strong citrus aroma. It is also known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial characteristics.


Research has indicated that limonene may also function as an anticancer agent and prevent the growth of tumors. In addition, limonene can pass the blood-brain barrier with ease and increases concentration and attention. Some products also use limonene to reduce anxiety and depression. Limonene is also a natural repellent for insects; an aromatic terpene that many plants use to defend against predators and insects. Haze varieties are a potential source of this kind of terpene.

3. Linalool

Linalool is reminiscent of fresh flowers. It gives off a floral aroma and is usually found in plants of the lavender family.


It has sedative and anxiolytic effects, intake of morphine can be reduced simply by inhaling it. It can provide a local analgesic effect at the same level as lidocaine and menthol and its effectiveness to treat distinct types of cancer is being investigated.

4. Caryophyllene

Caryophyllene is present in various spices and herbs, especially in black pepper, in which it imparts a spicy flavor. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic substances, and is one of the active principles of clove. It has the ability to activate the cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2).


It is an effective remedy for toothache and is to contain anti-fungal properties. Beta-caryophyllene is also a defense weapon of plants; plants produces this terpene to attract the predators of herbivorous insects. The oxide of caryophyllene is an insecticide and fungicide. 

5. Pinene

Pinene is composed of beta and alpha-pinene, and as the name says, it has a pine-like aroma. This terpene is not only found among conifers, parsley, rosemary, basil, dill, and insects, but also in many Skunk varieties.


Pinene has a very potent anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic effect, functioning similarly to myrcene. It is also a bronchodilator, increasing the absorption of cannabinoids through the lungs. It acts as an expectorant and local antiseptic. Alpha-pinene is an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase, thus limiting the adverse effects on short-term memory. Pinene also stimulates energy and improves concentration. 

6. Nerolidol

Nerolidol can be found in citronella, ginger, and niaouli. It has an earthy, woody smell reminiscent of tree bark.


Nerolidol is used as a flavoring ingredient and in perfumery. It has anti-fungal properties and is effective against malaria. Nerolidol also has soothing and sedative properties. 

7. Borneol

Borneol is abundant in rosemary and has a fresh and mentholated camphor aroma. Chinese acupuncture has used borneol for millennia.


Borneol is applied in the treatment of fatigue and stress. The natural function of this terpene has been to protect the cannabis plant from pests and predators, but it also harbors powerful healing qualities to alleviate pain and to fight cancer and fibrosis. It is also one of the chemical compounds that helps to potentiate the psychoactive effect of marijuana, acting in turn as an anti-coagulant to prevent cerebrovascular accidents

8. Eucalyptol

Eucalyptol is a terpene present in the effective oil of eucalyptus. It has a very fresh mint aroma.


It has analgesic properties, and helps to sharpen concentration.

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