Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants and animals. They are responsible for flavors, aromas, and colors associated with different vegetation types. On the cannabis side, terpenes make certain strains smell and taste different from the others.

They are also processed to produce some products like cleaning solvents, dyes, and pesticides. Salminen et al. (2008) clarified that others have therapeutic ingredients. Nearly all plants contain terpenes. But people mostly encounter them in citrus fruits, cannabis, and aromatic herbs such as sage and thyme.

The article will focus on what terpenes do, whether it has the potential to get their users high, how terpenes compare with CBD and THC, common terpenes used and their effects, and the benefits of using terpenes.

What Do Terpenes Do?

According to Raffa (2014), they are thought to protect the plant from harsh weather and predators. In humans, it is a bit of mystery. But researchers and consumers alike are looking for terpenes to classify cannabis products and predict their effects.

The demand for terpenes is highly increasing in the United States, and because the CBD from hemp is legal across the country, it’s currently expensive to harvest and extract CBD from hemp flowers. Most companies are using the entire plant.

Can Terpenes Get You High?

Terpenes cannot get you high in the traditional sense, though some are considered psychoactive because they affect the brain. As terpenes are not intoxicating on their own, some believe that they can have some effects on the effects of THC, which is the cannabinoid responsible for highness from the cannabis plant.

Most cannabis connoisseurs and bartenders say the consumers emphasize THC content when choosing a strain. But they recommend focusing on certain terpene profiles for the desired side effects.

Fedotova et al. (2017) discovered that terpenes have potential benefits for mental conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression.

How do Terpenes Compare to THC and CBD?

CBD and THC are two over hundred cannabinoids that are found in cannabis. But they are the most abundant cannabinoids and also the most well studied. Both cannabinoids and terpenes provide clues about what you can expect from a cannabinoid product, although they are two different compounds. They interact in what the experts call the entourage effect, which is the hypothesis of the full spectrum of cannabis, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and some other compounds found in the cannabis plant, producing the sensational effects cannabis. Blake et al. (2017) showed that a combination of CBD and THC was more effective for pain management than THC alone. Blasco-Benitoet al. (2018) discovered that breast cancer responded well to a cannabis extract than to pure THC on its own. These synthetic effects were mainly attributed to some other cannabinoids and not terpenes.

Consider this when using CBD for therapeutic concerns. When you use CBD isolate, a product that only contains CBD, and finds it does not contain the desired effects, it can be good to try a full-spectrum CBD product. It will also contain terpenes and other cannabinoids and some small traces of THC.

The Common Terpenes and Their Effects

There are about 400 known terpenes in the cannabis plant. But experts have only linked some of them to specific effects. Below are some common terpenes and their potential effects.


According to Pereira et al. (2018), Beta-pinene has a smell that can act as an anti-depressant and dull anti-cancer properties.


It is a terpene that is found in ginseng. It has been used in folk medicine for energizing effects for a long period.


It is one of the most commonly known terpenes. It has long, distinct citrus notes and can potentially have some anti-cancer properties.


The lovers of lavender as aromatherapy may want to look for cannabis with linalool, which can help alleviate stress.


Dosoky & Setzer (2018) informed that it is found in mangoes. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties that can also have sedating effects.

Most of the research surrounding terpenes is still young, but some more high-quality studies on humans are required to understand the health impacts of different terpene profiles fully.

Maximizing the Benefits

Below are some tips to keep in mind when looking for quality terpenes.

Read the Label

Some laboratory-tested cannabinoid brands include the terpene profile and the products’ concentration.

Check for Product Freshness

The terpene concentration may end after some time. Ensure you look for the products with a recent package date. If you need the flower, you can give it a sniff you can, and if you want something fragrant with high terpene content.

Precautions with Cannabis Oil

The oil-based vaping products usually have some added synthetic terpenes. But it is not clear if the synthetic terpenes are less effective than the natural ones, although they are used to create solvents and some other household chemicals. Consider the cautions, and be wary about the marketing materials that promise how they perform.

Lay off the Heat

There is evidence that dabbing, which involves high heat, can degrade synthetic terpenes leading to potentially harmful byproducts. Until experts understand how heat can affect terpenes, you can stick with the vaporizing flower at a low temperature or consume the edibles.

Keep a Journal

As you try various terpene profiles, take note of the ingestion methods and how you feel. After some time, this can help you pinpoint the best terpene profile for the effects you need.

Bottom Line

Terpenes play a crucial role in the flavor and aroma of the cannabis strain. They potentially work in synergy with cannabinoids and other cannabis plant compounds to produce the psychoactive effects. More research is still underway on over 400 terpenes, so it is not easy to make a definitive claim about them. Terpenes are one piece of the equation and can be an interesting way to play around with different products and look for what you like most.


Blake, A., Wan, B. A., Malek, L., Deangelis, C., Diaz, P., Lao, N., … & O’Hearn, S. (2017). A Selective Review Of Medical Cannabis In Cancer Pain Management. Ann Palliat Med, 6(Suppl 2), S215-S222.

Blasco-Benito, S., Seijo-Vila, M., Caro-Villalobos, M., Tundidor, I., Andradas, C., García-Taboada, E., … & Sánchez, C. (2018). Appraising The “Entourage Effect”: Antitumor Action Of A Pure Cannabinoid Versus A Botanical Drug Preparation In Preclinical Models Of Breast Cancer. Biochemical Pharmacology, 157, 285-293.

Dosoky, N. S., & Setzer, W. N. (2018). Chemical Composition And Biological Activities Of Essential Oils Of Curcuma Species. Nutrients, 10(9), 1196.

Fedotova, J., Kubatka, P., Büsselberg, D., Shleikin, A. G., Caprnda, M., Dragasek, J., … & Kruzliak, P. (2017). Therapeutical Strategies For Anxiety And Anxiety-Like Disorders Using Plant-Derived Natural Compounds And Plant Extracts. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 95, 437-446.

Pereira, I., Severino, P., Santos, A. C., Silva, A. M., & Souto, E. B. (2018). Linalool Bioactive Properties And Potential Applicability In Drug Delivery Systems. Colloids And Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 171, 566-578.

Raffa, K. F. (2014). Terpenes Tell Different Tales At Different Scales: Glimpses Into The Chemical Ecology Of Conifer-Bark Beetle-Microbial Interactions. Journal Of Chemical Ecology, 40(1), 1-20.

Salminen, A., Lehtonen, M., Suuronen, T., Kaarniranta, K., & Huuskonen, J. (2008). Terpenoids: Natural Inhibitors Of NF-Κb Signaling With Anti-Inflammatory And Anticancer Potential. Cellular And Molecular Life Sciences, 65(19), 2979-2999.

Barbara is a freelance writer and a sex and relationships adviser at Dimepiece LA and Peaches and Screams. Barbara is involved in various educational initiatives aimed at making sex advice more accessible to everyone and breaking stigmas around sex across various cultural communities. In her spare time, Barbara enjoys trawling through vintage markets in Brick Lane, exploring new places, painting and reading.

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