What Are Cannabis Terpenes and What Do They Do?

Cannabis terpenes and what do they do

While not many people know about terpenes, especially cannabis ones, they are ever-present in the various strains that are regularly cultivated and consumed. These substances are basically what sets one type of cannabis apart from another. This applies to both the effects of a strain, as well as to how it smells and how potent it is when consumed.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are, for all intents and purposes, aromatic oils that are normally produced by the same glands that secrete THC and CBD. These substances give the various cannabis types their distinctive aromas, such as citrus, pine, and mint.

From an evolutionary point of view, terpenes have evolved in cannabis in order to attract useful insects and to repel pests. When it comes to humans, different types of terpenes have different effects. Some are soothing and are great for helping you sleep, while others can energize you and help you focus.

Keep in mind that every cannabis strain has a different terpene profile, and this gives various effects when consumed. How much terpenes a plant develops is influenced by numerous environmental factors such as climate, the fertilizers that are used, the type of soil that the plant is grown in, and also age. The large number of factors that can affect how these oils are created, as well as their chemical composition, have led to a very large number of terpenes being created.

This development has led to the huge variety in cannabis strains that can be found in all parts of the world, and has enabled cultivators to predict what combining certain strains will yield. However, one of the most important qualities of terpenes is the fact that they can interact with other compounds created by cannabis strains, in what is known as The Entourage Effect.

What is the Entourage Effect?

Cannabinoids bind to various receptors in the brain and throughout the body. Terpenes also do this, and they alter the way in which the body interacts with cannabinoids. The best way to describe this interaction is as a means of controlling how easily other compounds created by cannabis plants can be absorbed by the body.

How do they affect you?

One of the main effects of terpenes is the fact that they control how much THC the body allows to go past the blood-brain barrier, and through this, how strong the effect of different strains will be. This effect is complemented by the oils’ ability to change the way in which neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are created, as well as how many receptors the body has available for these substances.

In layman’s terms, terpenes can determine what kind of effect cannabinoids will have on us, their strength, and they can also help create neurotransmitters that help amplify the effects of cannabis consumption.

How to use them? Are they game-changers?

There is no actual way to use terpenes. The aromatic oils are secreted by cannabis plants and change the way in which the body reacts to the consumption of different strains. One thing that is worth mentioning is the fact that there is little research related to these compounds, however, it has been determined that they may represent the next step in cannabis cultivation.

In order to understand the importance of terpenes, it is first important to keep in mind that cannabis cultivators have always tried to blend different strains in order to create plants that have extremely high levels of THC. This has led to CBD being ignored, which is unfortunate due to the fact that this compound has the most beneficial effects and can be used in order to treat a large number of physical and mental conditions.

Due to the way terpenes affect the body, it is possible to create strains of cannabis that have more varied effects when consumed, and seem stronger, without having to focus on raising THC levels. In other words, terpenes truly are game-changers, especially when looking at the medical applications of cannabinoids.

Different types of terpenes have different effects

There are over 100 types of terpenes and each of them has a different effect on the body. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  1. Alpha-Pinene – Has a pine aroma and can be used to treat asthma, pain, ulcers, anxiety, and cancer;
  2. Myrcene – Has a similar aroma to Cardamom and Cloves. It can be used to treat insomnia, pain, and various types of inflammation;
  3. Limonene – Has a citrus aroma. Limonene may be valuable in treating anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, and cancer;

Learn more about different types.

The research of terpenes is just beginning, and not all compounds have been studied to the extent where it can be clearly determined how they can help treat different affections. However, two things have been established.

First of all, most terpenes have beneficial effects on the body and can be potentially valuable in treating serious and painful diseases. Secondly, they are all assimilated differently by the body, in terms of how we feel when we consume them. Some can help us relax and improve our mood, while others are sedating to the point where we may be couch-locked.

It is not yet clear if it will be viable to extract the oils and manually mix them with cannabis extracts, or if it will be up to the cultivators to refine these compounds within each strain. As the compounds are researched, it is believed that they will help create a new generation of pharmaceutical drugs that will help treat anything from migraines and ulcers to cancer and degenerative diseases.


Terpenes are still a new concept in terms of cannabis cultivation, however, their value is impossible to ignore. More and more laboratories and governments all around the world are slowly starting to look into how they can help make our lives.

Meanwhile, cannabis growers are already experimenting with ways in which they can take advantage of these compounds in order to create new strains that are not only strong but also have more varied effects when consumed.

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