What are the Main Terpenes in Cannabis?

Cannabis plants (as well as many other plant species) produce terpenes, molecules that are in charge of aroma and flavour. Do you know what they are, and which types are most common? In this post we’re going to explain everything you need to know about cannabis’s main terpenes.
terpenos mas abundantes

Index of contents

What are Terpenes?

Cannabis plants contain many different molecules with different properties and functions within their chemical composition.

On one hand, we have cannabinoids, some of which are known for their psychoactive effect, and on the other hand we have terpenes, which are atomatic compounds that make cannabis have its delicious flavour and aroma.

Within terpenes, there are three different families depending on their molecular structure, this is why we differentiate between monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and triterpenes.

All of these molecules are created (just like cannabinoids), within the glandular trichomes on your plants’ buds, and they impregnate the resin excreted.

The amount of terpenes produced by a plant depends on certain environmental and growing factors; the better the conditions, the better and more intense the aroma produced by the plant.

What are Terpenes for?

These substances have always been quite important when it comes to choosing the right strains to go on the market; one of the most sought-after traits by breeders are special flavours and aromas. However, other than consumers that like to enjoy their cannabis aromas to the fullest, terpenes also exist in order to protect your cannabis plants from possible environmental threats.

Terpenes do indeed repel predators and protect your plants from fungi and bacteria while also attracting pollinating insects; this is why the flowers on female plants that haven’t been pollinated smell much more.

terpenes in plants

Terpene Properties

Cannabis terpenes are also involved in what is known as the “entourage effect”, which is to say that they can increase or modify the effect produced by other compounds in the plant (for example, cannabinoids).

Various studies show that these aromatic compounds can possibly increase the effects produced by cannabinoids, as it increases the amount of cannabinoids which can pass through the hemato-encephalic barrier. This can be useful for cannabinoid treatments such as CBD or THC, as patients can eventually develop a certain tolerance to these cannabinoids and, therefore, they don’t produce quite the same effect. Usually, in such cases the dose is increased, but with the use of terpenes you could maintain the same amount of cannabinoids, because they’ll have “more of an effect”, in a way.

However, the entourage effect isn’t the only way that terpenes can affect your body. Each terpene when isolated has its own properties, and when combined they produce a certain effect.

For example, myrcene is narcotic and can cause drowsiness, while limonene is the absolute opposite. This is why cannabis plants produce different effects based on their terpene profile: depending on the concentration of certain terpenes and their overall combination.

What are Cannabis’s Main Terpenes?

“Main terpenes” are what we call the terpenes found in larger amounts in most cannabis strains currently on the market:

Limonene: stay focused

Limonene is found in many different fruits such as lemon (which is where its name comes from), oranges and lime. This terpene is responsible for some cannabis strains having a citric hint in their aroma and flavour, and it can usually be found in large amounts, for example in certain strains which are classified as “Diesel”.

Some of its main properties are:

  • Energizing
  • Antidepressant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antifungal

Some strains with a high limonene content: Chocolate Mint OG, Sour Diesel, Orange Turbo.

limonene effects
Most “Diesel” strains have a high Limonene terpene content, which gives them a citric, fresh aroma which, alongside other terpenes, makes up its aromatic profile.

Pinene: breathe better

Pinene is a terpene that’s present in pine and other plant species such as rosemary, salvia and cannabis. This terpene is what produces woody, eucalyptus like flavours which many cannabis consumers go crazy for.

Some of its main and most characteristic properties are:

  • Bronchodilator
  • Anti-carcinogenic
  • Anti-inflammatory

Strains with high pinene content: Critical, Lavender, High Level.

where is pinene found
Pinene is one of the most common terpenes in cannabis plants’ aromatic composition, as well as pine, which is where it gets its name from.

Caryophyllene: a way to fight pain

Caryophyllene is a sesquiterpene that’s also present in pepper, cloves and thyme, and it’s the terpene in charge of producing spicy, woody flavours in some cannabis strains. This terpene can be used to treat:

  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Cell aging
  • Can be used to fight certain fungi
  • Protecting the digestive system

Some strains with high amounts of caryophyllene: Gorilla Glue, Gelato, Grapefruit OG

gorilla glue bud
Gorilla Glue is definitely one of the strains with the most caryophyllene in the world, which impacts its deep, intense aroma, characteristically pungent.

Linalool: zen mode

Linalool is found in lavender and in many other plants, including cannabis. Its delightful and floral aroma gives strains rich in linalool quite the special touch, such as Do-Si-Dos. This terpene has been found to have the following properties:

  • Sedative
  • Calming
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory

Other strains rich in Linalool: Mojito, Cheese, Girl Scout Cookies

Myrcene: sweet dreams

It’s been found that myrcene is one of the main elements found in most cannabis strains. This terpene is also found in other plants’ composition such as thyme and oregano, and its known for its earthy and herbal flavour. Among myrcene’s properties, some of their most beneficial ones are:

  • Sedative
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Narcotic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibiotic

Strains high in myrcene: Sensi Star, Furious Candy, TNT Kush.

myrcene kush indicas
Many strains classified as “indicas” due to their relaxing effects have quite a high amount of Myrcene in their aromatic composition.

Humulene: What do Beer and Cannabis Have in Common?

Although Humulene is usually found in lesser amounts than other terpenes in cannabis, it does help to give certain strains with a fresh, spicy flavour and earthy hints.

This terpene gets its name from hops, which is also known as Humulos Lupulos, which is found in considerable amounts and is used to aromatize beer.

It produces quite a special flavour; humulene also has quite a few therapeutic properties when combined with certain cannabinoids.

  • Antifungal: combined with CBC or CBG
  • Anti-coagulant: used alongside THC.

Cannabis plants with a considerable amount of Humulene: OG Kush, 3 Kings, Gorilla Glue.

Terpinolene: the most characteristic Haze terpene

Straisn classified as “Haze”, such as the legendary Amnesia, have citric aromas similar to lemon and lime and usually a hint of incense, wood or fruit. This aromatic composition contains some terpenes that are always the same, such as Limonene, Pinene, Ocimene or Myrcene. Although, there is a terpene that can be found in abundance in Haze strains, and it’s Terpinolene.

  • Anti-oxidant.
  • Stress and anxiety relief.
  • Anti-microbial.
  • Anti-bacterial.

Some strains with a high Terpinolene content are: Nina Limone, Gipsy Haze, Super Lemon Haze.

cannabis haze strains
Gipsy Haze is a strain with one of the most intense and knowledgeable Haze aromas, with a high amount of terpenes such as Terpinolene, Caryophyllene, Ocimene, Myrcene, Pinene and more.

There are many other terpenes present in cannabis plants, but generally speaking, these are some of the most common ones.

What do you think? Let us know if you have any questions or comments below.

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