Terpenes: What Are They & Why They Matter

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Terpenes Dispensarygta

Terpenes are vapourisable compounds that many plants and some insects produce. The word terpene was derived from ‘turpentine’, a solvent containing terpene extracted from pine sap. The different terpene blends make the aromas of plants unique and have been used throughout the ages to make perfumes. They have also been used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. The wide variety of terpene blends means that there are an abundance of medicinal benefits that can be explored and enjoyed. Essential oils, which are largely made of terpenes, have long been used as topical treatments for a myriad of ailments, including eczema, psoriasis and poor circulation.

The Cannabis plant produces 120 different terpenes. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids are categorized as terpenoids on a chemical level, as they are created by terpenes. The resinous trichomes on a marijuana plant have both cannabinoids and terpenes. These are constantly degenerating and being replaced as they vaporize.

Moreover, high THC marijuana plants have approximately 50% cannabinoids and about 20% terpenes. That is why many marijuana users tend to judge a strain’s potency by the strength and quality of the smell of the weed. Interestingly, the terpenes that are present in marijuana do have neurological effects. They change the way the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are produced.

Terpenes Enhance the Effects of Cannabinoids

THC alone cannot give you the full “cannabis experience”; which includes many incredible psychological and physical benefits. The interaction of cannabinoids and terpenes change the permeability of cell membranes and the “blood/brain barrier”. This makes absorption of THC and other cannabinoids quicker and more thorough. Terpenes like myrcene, which we will look at shortly, act as antagonists of cannabinoid receptors. They modulate THC’s effects in the same way CBD does.

Two drugs that have synthetic THC, Dronabinol and Marinol, have minor medical benefits compared to drugs that contain both THC (and other cannabinoids) and terpenes! It would mean that terpenes are as psychoactive as certain cannabinoids like THC, or they simply interact with these cannabinoids to heighten their effects.

Furthermore, companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals are investing heavily in developing terpene-based medicines, as their research has shown that terpenes increase how well the medication is absorbed. They currently manufacture one of the most popular marijuana products globally named Sativex. It is an oral spray which has a mixture of terpenes, CBD and THC.

terpenes and spices

Major Types of Terpenes Found in Marijuana & Their Effects


Myrcene is present in significant amounts in marijuana resin. This terpene can also be found in: the East Indian Bay Tree, lemon grass, mangoes, Hops and Verbena. Myrcene’s pleasant fragrance makes it a favourite in the perfume industry. It works similarly as CBD, reducing the unpleasant effects some medical users experience when consuming THC. It has analgesic, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogen properties. The evidence is there to suggest its ability to be an effective anti-depressant or additive to anti-depressants. A muscle relaxer, myrcene is widely used in massage therapy as well.


Borneol is another major part of cannabis resin. It is also found in wormwood and cinnamon. The Chinese use herbs that contain borneol to treat stress and fatigue. It produces soothing effects; that combined with, the effects of other cannabinoids like THC and CBD, are sure to lift your mood.

Cineole or Eucalyptol

The amount of Cineole or Eucalyptol found in the different kinds of marijuana strains varies. However, it is a key component of essential oils like eucalyptus and rosemary. This terpene is known to help treat: pain, poor circulation, swelling and foul mood. These benefits are best derived when Cineole is combined with THC; as the mixture produces an uplifting and relaxing high.

Did you know it is believed that Cineole could be the reason why there are noticeable differences in sativa and indica strains; even if they have similar cannabinoid makeups?


Found in cloves and black pepper; Caryophyllene is a major element in marijuana resin. It has been known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. Sniffer dogs are trained to detect a similar compound called corphyllene epoxide, which is only produced by the marijuana plant.



Not a lot of terpineol is found in cannabis resin; however, it is commonly used in making perfumes. Terpineol increases lab rats’ motility by 45%. That, plus the fact that this terpene is largely produced in indica strains; suggest that terpineol could decrease the “couch-lock” cannabis users sometimes experience.


This terpene is found in the resins of marijuana, pine, rosemary and cedar. Oils that have high levels of Delta-3-Carene are often used to dry excess fluids from the mouth, nose and eyes. Thus, it is believed to be the reason for the dry eyes and mouth many marijuana users experience while smoking.


Linalool is a key component in cannabis and lavender resins. It is constituted of sedative properties that are effective in reducing stress and anxiety. It is also a good treatment for insomnia.


Limonene is found in cannabis resin and many tropical fruit rinds. It is an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial terpene. Research is being conducted to test its effectivity in preventing breast cancer. Limonene is also currently being used in experiments to determine its effectiveness as an anti-depressant.

Furthermore, Limonene may help to reduce Aspergillus infection when marijuana that is not cured properly is consumed by persons with compromised immunity. Additionally, limonene aids in the absorption of other terpenes; as it makes cell membranes more permeable.

Guide to Terpenes from Leafly

Reaping the Benefits

Before purchasing medicinal cannabis products, it is important to research how they are produced; as the method of production can have a negative effect on the potency of terpenes present. As terpenes break down and evaporate when exposed to heat; many of the hash and cannabis oils produced for medical uses actually contain little, to no, terpenes. You should always find out if the terpenes in these oils have been retained or have been allowed to evaporate.

One Further Off-topic Note:

We have been anxiously awaiting our order from OCS dated October 18, 2018; but alas, we have not received it, or any word on when it may arrive. We have tried to contact OCS, only to be kept on hold for 3 hours. They have charged our card, refunded it and then charged the card again a day later. One day it will arrive (I hope).

Until then, know MOM’s will have your order placed and shipped before OCS realizes they have an order. I have in fact received 3 MOM orders since the OCS order has been placed. Something has gone terribly wrong in Ontario and there have already been over 1000 complaints to the Ontario Ombudsman. They say patience is a virtue and it looks like Ontarians may have to practice said patience for months to come.   

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About Bud 214 Articles
Bud has a diversified background; combining university, college and her extensive experience in various careers in healthcare fields. This background, along with extensive research into the emerging cannabis market; as well as, extensive and sometimes, intensive personal testing and reviewing of every strain on DispensaryGTA.com has allowed Bud to become one of the foremost Canadian reviewers and experts on Canadian cannabis and emerging marketing strategies. Her interests include everything cannabis-related, history, video games, anthropology, travel and she is an avid reader.

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