What are Terpenes?

by | Nov 28, 2018 | Articles |

Let’s Talk about Terpenes

Aromas are a natural part of cannabis that give all of the strains of marijuana their own, distinct smell. These aromas also play a part in eliciting the feeling one gets when exposed to cannabis and the effect a particular strain can have on their body…from a mellow feeling or sense of relaxation to a stress buster and mood lifter.

What ingredient in medical and recreational cannabis causes this aromatically-based response?



They’re the strong oils secreted by the same glands of the cannabis plant that the THC and CBD cannabinoids emanate from. They are much like the many different scents of flowers you’ve probably smelled. After all, the cannabis plant is a flower!

These oils are the ones that give medicinal or recreational cannabis their signature flavors, such as berry and citrus. In the grand spectrum of cannabis strains, you can search for specific strains that have the flavor you’re looking for.

In its natural environment, terpenes became a part of the internal structure of the cannabis plant as a means of defense and attraction, to fend off predatory insects and wildlife and to attract suitable insects and other animals that can pollinate the plant.

The development of terpenes depends on a variety of conditions in nature, such as the climate and weather factors, the age and maturation level of the plant, plus chemical fertilizers and soil conditions. Even what time of day it is will have an impact on the development of terpenes.


How many terpenes are there?

From the cannabis plant, between 100 and 200 varieties of terpenes have been pinpointed, and a unique type of terpene exists for every strain. The composition of the terpenes is such that the original plant, as well as the subsequent plant progeny, will have an aroma closely matching the original.


The effects of Terpenes

Terpenes not only play an important role in the development of distinct flavors in cannabis, but also have the ability to mesh almost seamlessly with other cannabis plant compounds. This capability allows terpenes to play a role in the various cannabis strains and their effect on treating certain medical conditions in the body.

Some of the cannabis terpenes you might encounter include:


Alpha-Pinene and Beta-Pinene:

  • Pine aroma and effects on alertness and memory retention. Can also offset some of the effects of THC. These terpenes have a medical value that includes fighting asthma and use as an antiseptic. Some of the cannabis strains that Pinene can be found in are: Jack Herer, Chemdawg, Bubba Kush, Trainwreck and Super Silver Haze.



  • You’ll detect musky, earthy and herbal aromas, along with a few citrus and tropical fruit notes. This terpene has a relaxing, sedating effect, and has medical value as an antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic. It’s particularly helpful in treating sleeplessness, inflammation, pain, muscle tension, and depression. A few of the strains you’ll find Myrcene in are El Nino, Himalayan Gold, and Pure Kush.



  • It’s fairly easy to recognize that the predominant aroma from this terpene is something on the fruity side of things. Citrus is the terpene here, and it has an effect that helps to elevate your mood and offer relief from stress. The medical value found in Limonene includes benefits as an antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogen medicine. Its benefits include relief from heartburn, gastrointestinal problems, and  depression.



  • Sweet and fresh might describe this terpene. The aromas that make up Linalool include candy, floral, and citrus. Its chief effects are providing relief from anxiety and sedation. Medically, Linalool’s value is found in its capacity to act as an acne fighter as well as an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and anti-convulsant treatment. Cannabis strains where Linalool can be found go by the names Amnesia Haze, Lavender, LA Confidential, and G-13.


Understanding medical cannabis, what it does, how it works, and what makes it up is beginning to see more light and interest thanks to science and technology, as restrictions loosen up over the perceptions of cannabis as being a dangerous, stoner drug and the reality that it’s a medicinally beneficial option for healing and treating a multitude of symptoms and conditions.


Call your nearest location for information/assistance on obtaining your Illinois medical cannabis card.

If you have just received your medical cannabis card, come see us for your new patient consultation.