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What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do?

What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do

When talking about cannabis, there is lots of vocabulary that gets thrown around. For people just starting to learn about the wonderful world of marijuana, it may be confusing to hear so many unfamiliar terms. To get a good background on cannabis, you don’t need to learn all of the complex terms– but it will be helpful to brush up on the important ones.

One of the most important things to learn about cannabis is the terpenes. You may have heard about terpenes before, in connection with THC or CBD products. But, what are they? And more importantly– what do they do? We’re here to give you all the information you need to know about terpenes and the role they play in quality & the cannabis planting process.

What are Cannabis Terpenes?

In short, terpenes are a natural compound that is found on cannabis plants, but you can also find them on other plants. Over 400 kinds of terpenes have been found in cannabis, but many appear in such small amounts that they are undetectable. They have a distinct aroma and flavor that affect the characteristics and quality of the plant. While they are found on different kinds of plants, the terpenes found on cannabis are formed in trichomes.

They have intense aromas that provide your bud with that signature smell. Along with affecting the cannabis plant's scent and flavor, they also work to protect your plants from hazardous pests, insects, or animals. If your plant does experience some sort of damage or danger, the terpenes influence the plant’s immunity to help it recover and stay clean of germs.

What Do Terpenes Look Like?

You’ve probably seen terpenes on your cannabis bud before, but maybe without realizing it. They appear on extremely small, hair-like glands that cover the plant called trichomes. In the trichomes, there are resin glands that produce terpenes, along with other cannabis compounds. If you’ve even broken up your cannabis with your hands, you’ve probably felt the sticky surface that trichomes create. If you were to get a closer look at the trichomes, you would see sticky, crystal-like hairs. So, you can’t really see terpenes with the naked eye, but you can see where they are created on the plant.

That being said, there are over 400 different kinds of terpenes that all look different and affect the plant’s characteristics in different ways.

What Do Terpenes Look Like

What Do Terpenes Do?

Terpenes are a crucial element of cannabis plants, for many different reasons. As previously mentioned, they help to protect plants from insects, animals, and even damage from weather conditions. This happens because predators will likely have a reaction to the aroma of the terpenes, causing them to leave the plant alone. While they protect the health of plants, they also work to create the characteristics of the plants.

The smell of a cannabis plant will differ depending on the type of terpene in the plant. It will influence the aroma and flavor profile of the plant, which can affect the experience of the cannabis user. Now, you might be wondering– do terpenes get you high?

The short answer is no, they do not give you the psychoactive “high” feeling that cannabis users tend to seek out. The high effects are a result of the THC, however, terpenes may have an impact on your brain and body. Some research suggests that terpenes offer health benefits, specifically for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. The smell of terpenes can also help to create essential oils which are then used for therapeutic purposes, such as regulating stress.

Some researchers also note that terpenes can contribute to what is known as an “entourage effect” in cannabis. This is the idea that the entire experience of cannabis use is a result of all elements in the plant (terpenes, cannabinoids, etc.) working together to produce certain feelings or benefits.

That said, terpenes play a powerful role when it comes to cannabis, but it is not the only factor that will influence the results.

Types of Terpenes

Hundreds of terpenes have been recognized in cannabis plants, including many we don’t know much about. Some terpenes appear in such small quantities that it’s hard to understand the effect they have. However, certain kinds of cannabis terpenes are quite common and widely known for their potential benefits.


This is the second most abundant terpene found in cannabis. As you might assume from the name, this terpene is commonly found in “lemony” cannabis strains like Lemon Haze or Sour Diesel. The citrusy scent is known to boost mood and reduce anxiety. Researchers also suggest that this terpene may possess some properties with anti-cancer potential.


The linalool terpene is found in some cannabis strains, as well as therapeutic herbs like lavender. That said, it is known to have a relaxing effect, with the potential to provide pain relief.



This common terpene has a more spicy aroma and is known to work with CB2 receptors to reduce inflammation. While the research is still up for discussion, many scientists suggest that caryophyllene may provide beneficial effects for people recovering from alcohol addiction.


This is the most popular terpene found in cannabis, but you can also find it in mangoes! Myrcene provides a fruity aroma and is often found in indica strains, providing sedating effects such as pain relief. Some people also suggest trying a myrcene-rich cannabis strain with a mango snack to amplify the effects.

Wrapping It Up

Terpenes may be small, but they have a mighty impact when it comes to cannabis. They play an essential role in the quality and characteristics of your cannabis and may benefit your health, too. There are more than 400 terpenes known to exist, but don’t let that overwhelm you.

So pay attention to terpenes. Know what terpenes are in your favorite strains and which ones provide desired effects. It will make your cannabis shopping experience so much more satisfying when you get the flower, capsules, CBD products, and more that suit your needs and preferences.


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