What are Terpenes? Further Understanding the Effects of Medical Marijuana


Most of the attention on marijuana is typically focused on THC and CBD. As the most well-known cannabinoids in marijuana, they’re largely what’s responsible for the plant’s therapeutic effects. There is however, much more to cannabis than meets the eye. Terpenes, a less-known cannabis compound, are quickly gaining more attention as more people discover the benefits of whole-plant synergy.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are what’s responsible for giving marijuana it’s distinct, fragrant odor. Sweet smelling Bubble Gum, fruity Blueberry, and berry-scented Strawberry Cough all smell the way they do because of terpenes.

Terpenes are fragrant oils secreted in sticky resin glands. There are over 100 different types of terpenes, with several different variations. They are typically found in high concentration in female plants just before senescence (deterioration of the cannabis plant due to age).

Like cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, terpenes bind to various receptor sites in the brain, working in harmony with the endocannabinoid system. Terpenes are also responsible for eliciting various effects, and are thought to play a large role in increasing the therapeutic properties of the cannabis plant.

There are some terpenes that bind to the same receptor sites as THC. In this part of the brain, cannabis receptors sites that produce psychoactive effects are heavily condensed. Some of terpenes that bind to these psychoactive receptors in the brain can affect their chemical production. Some might adjust THC levels that reach the blood-brain barrier. Others interact with neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine and alter their rate of production, destruction, movement, and receptor availability.

Common Types of Terpenes Found in Cannabis

Some terpenes help increase focus. Others can help a person get a good night’s sleep. Some common types of terpenes found in cannabis include:


Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis, and is known to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.


Limonene is the second-most common cannabis terpene, and is known to easily enter the blood-brain barrier and increase focus and concentration. This terpene is also used is several products on the market designed to treat anxiety and depression.


Linalool is another terpene found in cannabis that is known to contain calming properties that can aid in stress and anxiety. It is also being researched for its influence on certain types of cancer.


Pinene is a terpene found in several plants, including cannabis, rosemary, and pine trees. It has shown to display anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to positively affect our memory.

Terpenes Can Offer a Better Idea of the Effects Marijuana Will Produce

With over 100 different types of terpenes, the effects each offers will vary between cannabis strains. While terpenes are relatively a mystery to many people interested in marijuana, they are becoming increasingly recognized as an integral part of marijuana’s medicinal role.

Terpene content is now being tested in several analysis labs, which can offer consumers a clearer concept of the effects a selected strain could produce. Know what terpenes are present, and you could easily understand the effects it will offer. As marijuana research moves forward, terpenes are being recognized for the large role they play in the harmonious synergy of marijuana medicine.