8 Common Terpenes Found In Cannabis
If you’ve been keeping up with cannabis research over the last few years, you’ve probably heard the word “terpene” being thrown around quite a bit.
Unfortunately, you may also be a bit confused about what that means for you as a cannabis user. Because while most people have a general understanding that they should be paying attention to THC and CBD when choosing a strain, the world of terpenes can be significantly more complicated.
We’ll be putting up more articles on the topic in the future, but in the interest of keeping you informed, today we’ll be keeping it simple – the following is a breakdown of eight terpenes commonly found in cannabis, what they smell like, and why they’re important to your overall experience.
What Are Terpenes?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, be sure to check out our full breakdown on understanding terpenes for a more detailed explanation. But in a nutshell, terpenes are essentially the aromatic oils found in cannabis (as well as a number of other plants). These compounds are what give it its unique flavour and distinctive aroma.
But terpenes aren’t just important for the olfactory experience of using cannabis – they also have a profound impact on the effects that the plant can have on an individual. Different strains have different terpenes, which interact with THC and CBD.
They also interact with each other. While most strains will have one that’s “dominant”, the presence of others will play a big role in the overall effect.
Myrcene is by far the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Most strains on the market today have at least some myrcene in their profile, and many of them feature it strongly. In addition to cannabis, it’s commonly found in mango, lemongrass and the hops in beer, and has a distinctive earthy and fruity smell to it.
In addition to being extremely common, it’s also the terpene most likely to be dominant in any particular strain. Many users have noted that their experience with myrcene dominant strains tends to be more of a relaxing one (although much of this depends on the other terpenes and cannabinoids present).
Limonene is another very common terpene in cannabis and can be identified by its distinct fruity and citrusy smell. Produced in the resin gland of the cannabis plant, it is commonly found in fruit skins and is also used in a number of cosmetics, foods and cleaning products (particularly those looking to create that distinct citrus aroma).
As you might expect from a compound with a sharp, zesty profile, many users report more of an energizing, uplifting experience when using strains with a dominant limonene profile. And while it tends to be more prevalent in sativa, it is found in a number of indica strains as well, and can potentially help balance some of their sedative-like effects.
While many terpenes have a “spicy” aspect to them, caryophyllene is unique in that it cranks the spice up to 10. It’s commonly found in a lot of herbs used in cooking like basil and oregano and is also found in cloves and cinnamon.
Along with limonene and myrcene, caryophyllene is one of the “big three” terpenes in cannabis. Many users have noted that caryophyllene seems to have a calming effect that can potentially help take the edge off if you’re jittery.
While not as prevalent as the big three, you’ll often find strains that feature pinene as a secondary terpene. It’s naturally occurring in pine needles, rosemary, basil and dill, and (as the name implies) has a strong green, piney scent that you’d get in a forest.
Strains that feature high amounts of pinene have been associated with a feeling of increased alertness in many users.
Known for its sweet herbal smell, ocimene is a terpene that’s also found in mint, parsley, mangoes and some flowers, and is used in a number of perfumes. More common in sativa dominant strains, ocimene typically doesn’t play a dominant role, but it’s not at all unusual to find this terpene in cannabis in smaller amounts.
The effects that it can have on a user often depend on the other terpenes in the strain, although many have noted that ocimene is one of the properties responsible for the coughing commonly associated with smoking cannabis.
Geraniol is another terpene with a distinct sweetness to it, but with more of a softer, floral profile. To give you an idea of what it smells like, think of the floral aspects of citronella oil, which uses geraniol as one of its ingredients. It’s also used commercially in a number of foods, including ice cream and cherry soda, and certain cosmetic products.
Because it’s usually only present in small amounts, the effects it will have on a user will often depend on how it interacts with the other compounds in the strain.
Terpinolene is somewhat similar to pinene in that it carries with it a green, piney scent. But terpinolene is interesting in its scent profile in that it also has strong flowery and herbal properties that go along with it. It’s found in a multitude of different plants, including cumin, apples, sage, rosemary, nutmeg and lilacs.
In cannabis, it’s commonly found in high-THC strains. While its effects often depend on the dominant terpenes, many users have reported feelings of sedation when using strains high in terpinolene.
Linalool is considered more of a minor terpene and is found in smaller amounts than the more predominant ones on our list. With that said, it is extremely common in the plant world (over 200 plants have been found to contain linalool) and is characterized by its spicy lavender aroma. In cannabis, linalool often plays a minor role and can interact with the major terpenes and cannabinoids in a number of different ways.
More Information On Terpenes
Got more questions about terpenes? See something on this list that you’re interested in? For more information about which strains we carry and which terpenes they feature, be sure to come by a Spiritleaf shop and chat with an experienced concierge.