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What Are Terpenes - And What Are Our Favourites?

Hempco LogoHempco Admin
5 Mins. Read

As you probably know, we love to talk about the cannabis plant.  So, we'd like to ask: what have you heard about terpenes?

This week, we're going to go a little bit beyond cannabis. Right now the spotlight is on terpenes. Terpenes are the substances credited with giving smells to most things in nature. The cannabis plant is known to contain over 100 of around 20,000 terpenes that can be found in the natural world.

You may know terpenes as what make the plant smell.  But what you might not know is that many of the effects felt from the plant are actually based on the terpenes within it.  By now, you're probably asking " so, what are terpenes and why do I need to know about them?" 

We hope this quick read will lend you some insight!

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are organic substances that naturally occur within all plants - and even some insects.  The terpene profile of a plant can change based on many things, from what it is fed to the environment that it exists within.  

Terpenes are actually a protective mechanism that was adopted by plants in order to survive in the environment it was native to.  For example, a plant may take on the smell of a fruit in an area where predators could be more drawn to meats.  

Cannabis contains naturally high amounts of terpenes.  As you've probably worked out by now, they are solely responsible for the unique characteristic aroma of each cannabis plant.

They influence the taste of the plant and its derivatives, type feeling (high) obtained, and as such, interact with the body in a way that can also provide  potential medical benefits.

A well known method of utilising terpenes for medicinal purposes is within the practise of aromatherapy.  

Others may be familiar with the medical and therapeutic benefits of terpenes through their use of essential oils.

Terpenes are responsible for the different effects you get when you breathe in the fragrance of lemon skins, or pine - for example. However, as mentioned previously, there are many kinds of terpenes... 

Thanks to the legalization of different kinds of cannabis use, a lot of studies have been done to discover the possible medical uses of this well-known plant.

Over centuries, the plant has been recognised for its healing and rejuvenating properties. Terpenes are likely one of the reasons it's been so notable.

So, why's it so important to look at 'terps'?

  • Trials have found terpenes to have a substantial effect on the alleviation of depression and anxiety while improving feelings of wellness when administered in controlled amounts. 
  • Some terpenes present in cannabis have been implicated in the reduction of inflammation and pain. 
  • Cannabis terpenes and their role in the treatment of people with cancer have been one of the most popular research areas and one of them, humulene is suspected to have inhibitory effects on cancer cells.
  • Chinese traditional medicine has had a long history with the cannabis plant due to beliefs that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent study found a terpene -borneol that is present in the plant to be likely responsible for significantly reduced cardiac disease rate found in rats who had been administered the compound over a long time.

So, you understand what terpenes are... 

Now you're probably wondering how you might identify them, and what benefits particular terpenes might have. 

We mentioned earlier that there are over 20,000 of them in the world, and at least 100 within cannabis plants, so we'll just fill you in on the five most common - which also happen to be our favorites!


Myrcene is the most common terpene in the cannabis species, and can be found in the majority of breeds around the world. It is characterised by a mix of fruity and earthy notes, and is also present in hops and mangos.  Myrcene is known to offer antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits.


Terpinolene is a terpene that possesses sedative capabilities, along with anti-fungal, antibacterial and antioxidant effects. It also has a role in promoting apoptosis and therefore reducing the risk of cancers. Its anti-insomnia property is great for preventing and treating this common sleep disorder. It has a smoky, woody smell and can be found in fragrant plants like tea, lilac and apples.


Caryophyllene adds spice, and is present in black pepper and cloves.  This particular terpene has the unique feature of existing in both CBD oil and Hemp seed oil. It has been found to work on the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. It has been attributed with anti-anxiety, antidepressant, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Certain neuroprotective functions have also been correlated with its administration.


Limonene is present in most citrus-y smelling fruits, and is responsible for the lemony or orangey fragrance of some strains of cannabis. It is the ideal terpene for stress relief and mood elevation.

Limonene is said to reduce inflammation within the body, and can be used as prevention and remedy for a number of other ailments. Limonene also facilitates the uptake of other terpenes.


Apart from cannabis, pinene can be found in conifer trees like pine, orange peels and turpentine. Though research is still scanty, some beneficial properties such as anti-inflammation, bronchodilation and helpfulness in preservation of short-term memory have been attributed to it.

And that's why it's so important to know a little bit about your terpenes... 

They're not just present within our favourite plant, but can be found in many forms all throughout the environment that we live in.  But most notably, they're contained in particularly high amounts in Cannabis. 

The more we look into terpenes, the more we uncover about their role in our environment, our ecosystem, and even our daily lives.  Whether it's our mood or our health, the scents we pick up affect us all throughout the day - even if we don't notice it. So, lets.

Paying more attention to terpenes can lead to healthier, happier lives.  And although research is ongoing, there’s hundreds of years of anecdotal evidence that points towards the effectiveness of using scents to change the state of the human body.

Want to know more?  Feel free to get in touch at any time. If we don't know the answer, we'd love to help find it!