What Are Terpenes

Terpenes: More Than Just Smell

What Are Terpenes?

In the vibrant world of cannabis, a question often arises: “What are terpenes?”

These naturally occurring compounds are not just the heralds of aroma and flavour in cannabis; they hold a pivotal role in defining the unique characteristics and therapeutic potential of each strain.

Terpenes, the unsung heroes of the cannabis experience, extend far beyond mere sensory delights. They intertwine with the very essence of cannabis, shaping its impact and appeal.

Terpenes in cannabis are not mere bystanders. They actively contribute to the plant’s distinctive aroma and flavour profiles, lending each strain its unique bouquet.

But their role transcends the olfactory and gustatory realms. These compounds interact with cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, influencing the psychoactive effects and therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

This intricate dance between terpenes and cannabinoids is not only a feast for the senses but also a beacon for scientific exploration into the medicinal properties of cannabis.

In the next sections, we’ll delve deeper into the enchanting world of terpenes, exploring their presence beyond cannabis, their functions, and the profound impact they have on the quality and experience of different cannabis strains.

Terpenes in Plants and Animals

Terpenes, while prominently featured in cannabis, are not exclusive to it. These organic compounds are generously sprinkled across nature, playing vital roles in various plants and even some animals.

Let’s explore their widespread occurrence:

In Nature

Terpenes are abundant in the plant kingdom. They are the architects behind the captivating scents of many aromatic herbs, flowers, and trees.

For instance, the refreshing scent of pine, the soothing aroma of lavender, and the invigorating fragrance of citrus all owe their allure to terpenes.

  • Common Sources

    • Cannabis: Beyond their psychoactive and therapeutic roles, terpenes contribute to the plant’s defence mechanism against predators and environmental stresses.
    • Aromatic Herbs: Herbs like sage and thyme are teeming with terpenes, which are responsible for their characteristic fragrances and flavours.
    • Citrus Fruits: The zest of citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits is rich in limonene, a terpene known for its uplifting and energizing aroma.
  • Roles in Animals

In the animal kingdom, terpenes are less common but not absent. Certain insects, for example, use terpenes as part of their communication system or as a defence mechanism.

Understanding the ubiquity of terpenes in nature underscores their importance in a variety of ecological and biological processes.

They are more than just a sensory experience; they are integral to the life and functionality of many organisms.

Function of Terpenes

The role of terpenes in nature is as diverse as their structure.

In plants, they serve as critical components for survival, while in humans, their potential benefits are a subject of ongoing research.

Let’s explore their multifaceted functions:

In Plants

  • Natural Defense: Terpenes act as a shield for plants, warding off herbivores, insects, and other predators. They also help in healing from physical damage and protection against harmful microbes.
  • Attract Pollinators: Many terpenes have a pleasant fragrance, which plays a key role in attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies, aiding in the plant’s reproduction process.

In Humans

  • Therapeutic Potential: The interest in terpenes has surged in the medical and wellness communities.
    Research suggests that these compounds could have various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain relief), and anxiolytic (anxiety relief) properties.
  • Aromatherapy: Terpenes are widely used in aromatherapy for their soothing and healing properties.
    For example, the linalool in lavender is renowned for its stress-relieving and sleep-inducing effects.

Ongoing Research

  • Clinical Studies: Scientists are exploring the potential of terpenes as therapeutic agents in treating a range of conditions from chronic pain to mental health disorders.
  • Interactions with Pharmaceuticals: There is also a growing interest in understanding how terpenes interact with different pharmaceuticals, which could pave the way for new treatment approaches.

The study of terpenes is an evolving field, continually shedding light on their importance not just in plants but also in their potential to influence human health.

As research advances, we are likely to uncover even more about the capabilities of these remarkable compounds.

What Are Terpenes

Terpenes and Cannabis Strains

The intricate relationship between terpenes and cannabis strains is a fascinating aspect of cannabis science.

Terpenes play a crucial role in defining the unique effects and sensory experiences of different cannabis strains. Let’s explore this relationship in more detail:

Impact on Cannabis Strain Effects

  • Influence on Psychoactive Effects: Terpenes interact with the cannabinoids in cannabis, like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), potentially influencing the psychoactive effects.
    For example, some terpenes may enhance the euphoria associated with THC, while others might temper it, leading to a more balanced experience.
  • Modulation of Therapeutic Benefits: Beyond their impact on the high, terpenes are believed to modulate the therapeutic effects of cannabis.
    This includes potential benefits like pain relief, anxiety reduction, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Interaction with Cannabinoids

  • The Synergy: Terpenes don’t act in isolation. They work in synergy with cannabinoids, enhancing the overall effects of cannabis.
    This interaction is sometimes referred to as the “entourage effect,” where the combined effect of cannabinoids and terpenes is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
  • Customizing Experiences: Understanding the terpene profiles of different cannabis strains helps in customizing the cannabis experience.
    For instance, a strain high in myrcene, a sedative terpene, might be suitable for relaxation, while a pinene-rich strain could be more uplifting.

Terpene Profiles in Strains

  • Diversity of Profiles: Cannabis strains can have vastly different terpene profiles, leading to a wide range of aromas and effects.
    Some strains may have a citrusy and refreshing aroma, while others might be more earthy or floral.
  • Influenced by Growing Conditions: The terpene profile of a cannabis plant is not just determined by its genetics but also by its growing conditions.
    Factors like soil type, climate, and cultivation practices can influence the concentration and balance of terpenes in a plant.

Understanding the role of terpenes in cannabis strains is key to appreciating the full spectrum of experiences that cannabis can offer.

From the soothing calm of linalool to the energizing zest of limonene, terpenes add depth and complexity to the cannabis journey.

The Entourage Effect

The concept of the “Entourage Effect” is central to understanding the full potential of cannabis.

This theory suggests that the compounds in cannabis, including cannabinoids and terpenes, work together in synergy, producing effects that are different and, in some cases, more potent than their individual effects.

Let’s break down this fascinating phenomenon:

Synergistic Interaction

  • Enhanced Efficacy: When cannabinoids and terpenes interact, they may enhance each other’s strengths.
    For example, certain terpenes might increase the absorption of cannabinoids, thereby amplifying their effects.
  • Modifying Effects: Terpenes can also modify the effects of cannabinoids.
    For instance, some terpenes may reduce the anxiety often associated with THC, leading to a more pleasant and balanced experience.

Studies Supporting the Entourage Effect

  • Scientific Research: Various studies have investigated this phenomenon, suggesting that the entourage effect may contribute to the therapeutic properties of cannabis.
  • Clinical Implications: The entourage effect has significant implications for medical cannabis users, as it suggests that whole-plant extracts may be more effective than isolated cannabinoids for certain conditions.

Critiques and Considerations

  • A Developing Theory: While the entourage effect is a popular concept in the cannabis community, it’s important to note that research in this area is still evolving.
    The exact mechanisms and the extent of the synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes are subjects of ongoing scientific inquiry.
  • Individual Variability: The effects of cannabis, including those attributed to the entourage effect, can vary widely among individuals.
    Factors like personal biochemistry, tolerance, and even the method of consumption can influence one’s experience.

The entourage effect underscores the complexity and richness of cannabis as a therapeutic plant.

This synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes is not just a scientific curiosity but a cornerstone in the understanding and appreciation of cannabis’s full potential.

Common Terpenes and Their Effects

Cannabis contains a plethora of terpenes, each contributing its unique flavour, aroma, and potential therapeutic properties.

Understanding these terpenes can enhance our appreciation of cannabis and its diverse applications.

Let’s explore some of the most common terpenes and their purported effects:

Key Terpenes in Cannabis:

  1. Beta-Caryophyllene:
    • Found In Cloves, rosemary, and hops.
    • Potential Effects: May aid in anxiety and depression management; known for its gastroprotective properties.
  1. Beta-Pinene:
    • Found In Pine trees and coniferous forests.
    • Potential Effects: Could possess anti-depressant and anti-cancer properties; may aid in memory retention.
  1. Humulene:
    • Found In Ginseng, hops.
    • Potential Effects: Traditionally used for its energizing effects; has shown antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  1. Limonene:
    • Found In Citrus fruits.
    • Potential Effects: Known for its uplifting aroma; may have anti-cancer and anti-anxiety properties.
  1. Linalool:
    • Found In Lavender.
    • Potential Effects: Popular in aromatherapy for stress relief; may have sedative properties aiding in sleep.
  1. Myrcene:
    • Found In Mangoes and lemongrass.
    • Potential Effects: Commonly associated with sedating effects; has antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Therapeutic Properties:

  • Pain Relief: Some terpenes are known for their analgesic properties, potentially aiding in pain management.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Many terpenes exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial in treating conditions like arthritis.
  • Mood Enhancement: Certain terpenes are believed to uplift mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
What Are Terpenes

Exploring Terpenes in Cannabis Products

As consumers become more knowledgeable about cannabis, understanding and identifying terpenes in products becomes increasingly important.

Here are some tips and considerations for exploring terpenes in cannabis products:

Tips for Identifying Terpene Profiles:

  1. Read Product Labels: Many cannabis products now include terpene profiles on their labels. Pay attention to the listed terpenes and their concentrations.
  2. Ask for Lab Reports: Reputable dispensaries and manufacturers should provide lab reports that detail the terpene content in their products.
  3. Use Your Senses: The aroma and flavour of cannabis can give you clues about its terpene profile. For instance, a citrusy smell might indicate the presence of limonene.

Importance of Freshness and Quality:

  • Freshness Matters: Terpenes can degrade over time, so it’s important to use fresh cannabis products to experience the full effect of the terpenes.
  • Quality of Source: The quality of the cannabis plant and the extraction methods used can significantly affect the terpene profile. Opt for products from reputable sources that use high-quality plants and extraction processes.

Exploring Terpenes in Different Forms:

  • Flower: Cannabis flower is a great way to experience the natural terpene profile of a strain.
  • Concentrates: Concentrates like oils and waxes can have more pronounced terpene profiles due to their concentrated nature.
  • Edibles: While terpenes in edibles may be less noticeable, they still contribute to the overall effect and flavour.

Customizing Your Experience:

  • Personal Preferences: Everyone’s experience with terpenes is different. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s important to experiment and find what suits you best.
  • Journaling: Keeping a journal of the terpenes in the products you use and how they affect you can be a useful way to determine your preferences.

By understanding and appreciating terpenes, consumers can enhance their cannabis experience, finding products that not only provide the desired effects but also delight the senses with their unique aromas and flavours.

Best Terpenes Products by BRITISH CANNABIS™

BRITISH CANNABIS™ offers a range of premium terpene products, each designed to provide a unique sensory experience while adhering to high standards of quality and safety.

Let’s explore some of their standout terpene offerings:

1. Strawberry Cough Terpenes

  • Aroma Profile: Sweet berries reminiscent of fresh strawberries.
  • Uses: Ideal for blending with various oils for flavour and aroma enhancement.
  • Storage: Store in a cool, dry place away from heat and direct sunlight.

2. Super Lemon Haze Terpenes

  • Aroma Profile: Lemony characteristics with a sweet, fizzy aroma, akin to lemon sherbet sweets.
  • Applications: Suitable for culinary and aromatherapy uses; THC-free.
  • Storage Recommendations: Keep in the original container, away from heat and sunlight.

3. Super Silver Haze Terpenes

  • Aroma Profile: Tangy cocktail of aromas with a spicy citrus aftertaste.
  • Versatility: Can be used to enhance aromas in essential oil blends and for aromatherapy.
  • Storage Tips: Store properly in its original container, away from heat and sunlight.

4. Sour Diesel Terpenes

  • Aroma Notes: Intense aroma with hints of orange zest and a lasting gassy spice.
  • Blending: Oil-soluble, blends well with various oils.
  • Quality Assurance: Crafted under strict standards for purity.

5. Blueberry Kush Terpenes

  • Flavor Profile: Sweet and tart nuances, evoking the taste of fresh blueberries.
  • Use Cases: Perfect for culinary and aromatic applications; highly concentrated.
  • Storage: Advised to store in its original container in a cool, dry place.

Each of these products is carefully crafted to capture the essence of the respective cannabis strain, delivering a pristine sensory experience.

They represent the commitment of BRITISH CANNABIS™ to quality, purity, and the innovative spirit of the cannabis industry.


Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in cannabis and many other plants, stand at the forefront of an evolving cannabis landscape. Their role extends far beyond imparting distinctive aromas and flavours; they contribute significantly to the therapeutic and psychoactive effects of cannabis.

The exploration of terpenes opens up a new dimension in understanding cannabis, shedding light on the plant’s complex chemistry and its interaction with human biology.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Diverse and Vital Role: Terpenes are not just about scent and flavour; they play a crucial role in the medicinal properties of cannabis, offering potential benefits such as pain relief, anti-inflammatory effects, and mood enhancement.
  2. The Entourage Effect: The synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids, known as the entourage effect, highlights the importance of considering the whole plant profile for therapeutic use, rather than isolating individual compounds.
  3. Personalized Cannabis Experience: Understanding terpenes aids in customizing the cannabis experience, allowing users to select strains and products based on desired effects and sensory preferences.
  4. Ongoing Research: The study of terpenes is an expanding field, with ongoing research revealing more about their therapeutic potential and interactions with cannabinoids.
  5. Quality and Safety: When exploring cannabis products, particularly those containing terpenes, it’s essential to consider the quality, source, and safety of the products, emphasizing the importance of choosing reputable brands like BRITISH CANNABIS™.

In a rapidly evolving cannabis industry, staying informed and open to new findings will enable us to fully embrace and benefit from the wonders of terpenes and the broader cannabis universe.


  1. (2023). Therapeutic and Medicinal Uses of Terpenes. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-31269-5_15.
  2. PubMed Central (PMC). (2023). The Cannabis Terpenes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7763918/.
About author

Samuel Turner

Health & Wellness Correspondent for BRITISH CANNABIS™ News

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