What Are Terpenoids And What Do They Do?

July 05, 2023

Marijuana enthusiasts appreciate the pleasant aroma of weed, this delightful smell is attributed to terpenes, special chemicals found in various plants and living organisms.

Terpenes contribute to the taste and scent of plants, and certain marijuana strains can contain more than 120 different terpenes concentrated in the plant's buds.

If you take a careful look at a cannabis plant, you'll notice the buds are sticky, covered in tiny hairs, and have a crystal-like texture. Those tiny hairs called trichomes, which produce various substances such as terpenes, terpenoids, flavonoids, and cannabinoids.

These substances are the main factors that cause the relaxing and sometimes intoxicating effects of marijuana.

Terpenes vs. Terpenoids

Terpenes are hydrocarbon compounds consisting of carbon and hydrogen atoms. On the other hand, terpenoids are hydrocarbons that have undergone chemical modifications, such as oxygenation or other processes. Essentially, terpenoids are terpenes that have been altered chemically. Some terpenes can naturally undergo modifications through heat or chemical processes, both in natural environments and laboratories. However, it's important to note that in the context of marijuana products, the term "terpenes" is commonly used rather than "terpenoids." Since terpenoids are considered a subclass of terpenes, this article will focus specifically on discussing terpenes.

Terpenes play a significant role in the fragrance and flavor of cannabis strains. They contribute to the unique scent profiles of different strains and can also have potential therapeutic effects. While terpenes are naturally occurring compounds found in various plants, including cannabis, it is important to understand their distinction from terpenoids, which are modified forms of terpenes. By focusing on terpenes, we can explore their diverse range of properties and how they contribute to the overall experience of using marijuana.

The Entourage Effect: Terpenes Working Together

Terpenes are responsible for giving plants their unique flavors. When you use cannabis, terpenes determine how it smells and tastes. Besides adding flavor, terpenes also have specific therapeutic effects. They work together with cannabinoids to provide enhanced therapeutic benefits, known as the entourage effect.

The entourage effect suggests that you get the best results from cannabis products that contain a wide range of compounds from the plant. This effect is most noticeable when using full-spectrum cannabis products that include different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. That's why buying cannabis with only high levels of THC and not much else might not be as good as it seems. While THC and CBD are important, terpenes are the unsung heroes behind the best effects of marijuana.

Related article: THC and CBD, and the Entourage Effect!

Top 6 Most Common Terpenes and Their Effects

To effectively choose terpenes, it's essential to understand which strains contain higher concentrations of specific types. Below are the most frequently encountered terpenes in cannabis, along with their unique effects and the strains in which they are commonly found.

  1. Myrcene: it's the most common terpene in cannabis and is mainly present in Mango Kush, Granddaddy Kush, Cherry Pie, OG Kush, and Blue Dream strains. The terpene comes in diverse aroma, including cardamom, cloves, earthy, musky, and herbal. 

It produces sedative effects, making it an excellent compound for people struggling with stress, anxiety, and insomnia. In addition to cannabis, you can also find myrcene in plants like basil, thyme, lemongrass, and mangoes.

  1. Limonene: As the name suggests, limonene is a lemon-scented cannabis terpene that’s renowned for its relaxing effects. Besides its anti-anxiety effects, limonene also packs anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.

Some of the cannabis strains rich in limonene include Super Lemon Haze, Jack Herer, Wedding Cake, White Fire OG, and Sour Diesel. Besides cannabis, you can also find limonene in most citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits.

  1. Pinene: Pinene is the most common terpene that’s widely available in forest trees, especially conifer trees like pine, and basil, dill, rosemary, etc. It comes in two forms, namely alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. Alpha-pinene carries the aroma similar to that of pine needles, whereas beta-pinene smells like dill.

Pinene is famous for its anti-inflammatory effects and can help with inflammatory conditions like asthma and arthritis. In cannabis, some of the strains that contain pinene include Chem Dawg, Strawberry Cough, Critical Mass, and Snoop’s Dream.

  1. Linalool: You’ve likely used lavender-based products at some point. In addition to their floral aroma, these products are also known for their calming and relaxing abilities, and those effects are attributed to the terpene linalool. Thanks to its sedative properties, you can use linalool to relieve conditions like stress and insomnia.

Other therapeutic effects of linalool include strengthening the immune system, pain management, and reducing inflammation. When looking for this terpene in cannabis, you might want to look in the direction of strains like Kosher Kush, Amnesia Haze, and Do-Si-Dos. Besides cannabis and lavender, linalool is also relatively abundant in birch bark.

  1. Caryophyllene: One of the best things about caryophyllene is that it comes in a cocktail of aromas, ranging from peppery to spicy, woody, and even cloves. Caryophyllene is also the only terpene that also doubles up as a cannabinoid, binding to the same receptors as CBD. Therefore, it plays a significant role in anxiety relief, pain management, alleviation of inflammation, etc.

Caryophyllene also packs powerful antioxidant properties and can be used as an immune-booster. The terpene is abundant in strains like Super Silver Haze, GSC, Purple Punch, and Original Glue. Other plants that contain caryophyllene include black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and hops.

  1. Terpinolene: Terpinolene is one of the most dominant terpenes, which is believed to be prevalent in one out of ten cannabis strains, including XJ-13, Chernobyl, Ghost Train Haze, and Jack Herer. Like caryophyllene, terpinolene comes in a range of aromas, from piney to floral and herbal.

In terms of its therapeutic effects, terpinolene carries antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties. It also has uplifting effects, hence it is a perfect remedy against anxiety, depression, and mood swings. Tea trees, nutmeg, conifers, cumin, apples, and lilacs are other plants full of terpinolene.


Resources for Researching Terpene/Strain Info

While the subject of terpenes in and of itself may be interesting, all of this knowledge is wasted if not put to good use. What good is it to know the difference between linalool and caryophyllene if you can’t find out which terpenes are in which strains? We’ve pooled together a list of resources that will be helpful in your search to figure out which terpenes are in which strains.

  • Leafly - Leafly has short guides for most marijuana strains. While they don’t always explicitly tell you which terpenes are present in a strain, you can often figure out which terps are present by the described aromas, flavors, and effects. 
  • Allbud - Allbud is a simple and reliable resource for marijuana information. Like Leafly, they also don’t explicitly detail the terpenes, but they do explicitly list flavors and aromas, which is very helpful. Also, they have a fairly accurate indica/sativa sliding scale. 
  • Hytiva - Hytiva has the smallest encyclopedia of strains out of the options listed, but they tend to have more specialized information available for those strains they do have. If a strain is listed on Hytiva, they will often explicitly describe it’s terpene make-up, which is extremely helpful for terp seekers.
  • Monroe Blvd - Shameless plug here, but it’s true. This list of strains and terpenes is one of the most comprehensive and compact currently available. 

Between these four /resources, most marijuana strains are documented, terpenes and all.


Terpenes are just as important as CBD and THC when it comes to enjoying marijuana. They have a unique role in enhancing the aroma and taste of cannabis. Unlike cannabinoids, terpenes offer these desirable qualities.

To be an informed consumer, it's crucial to have some understanding of terpenes. While you may have gained knowledge from this article, it's likely that your budtender hasn't received the same level of training. Terpene information is often not included on product labels, so it's important for you to be prepared and knowledgeable about your purchases.

One recommendation is to keep personal notes about the different strains you try. This will help you discover your preferences and become a knowledgeable cannabis enthusiast. With the information provided here, you're already on the right path. Regardless of your favorite flavor, one thing is certain: terpenes are loved by everyone.