What Are Terpenes?
In short: Powerful aromatic compounds in cannabis flower that alter its effects and offer unique flavors and aromas.
Learn more: Cannabis contains lots of different types of plant oils. These natural oils can generally be classified as either cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. Cannabinoids are only found in cannabis, but terpenes and flavonoids are both found in lots of other plant species aside from hemp.
Terpenes have potent aromas that significantly impact the way you experience cannabis. While some terpenes don’t taste like they smell, every terpene has a flavor, and it’s even possible that the exact terpene ratio in hemp flower alters the way it affects your body.
See our list of terpenes below and their various properties and which of our Grown Here Farms organic varietals contain these valuable terpenes.
Dominant in: Umpqua, Rogue & Ambassador
Aroma described as musky, spicy, and peppery. Most abundant terpene present in cannabis.
Most common terpene found in hops, is also found in measurable quantities in mangoes as well as several common kitchen herbs such as lemongrass and thyme. Has been used in traditional folk medicine for its anti-anxiety and pain relieving properties. Myrcene is a monoterpene, which means that it has one of the simplest chemical structures of any aroma molecule. This also means it is a fundamental building block for other more complex terpenes.
Myrcene has been used in folk medicine for centuries, with its first recorded use being in India over 2,000 years ago. In South and Central Asia, it's been used to treat various ailments for hundreds of years, including diarrhea, inflammation, respiratory problems, and cancer tumor growth. While there's no concrete scientific evidence to support these applications for Myrcene or other terpenes, it's worth noting that millions of people worldwide are staunch believers in its therapeutic properties and health benefits.
While the verdict is still out on the scientific validity of these claims, Myrcene has also been traditionally used to:
- Improve sleep
- Reduce pain
- Promote relaxation
- Relieve anxiety
- Strengthen the immune system
In Brazilian folk medicine, lemongrass tea, which contains very high levels of Myrcene, has been used to reduce pain and relieve anxiety for centuries. Lemongrass tea is also drunk in Mexico to promote relaxation and improve sleep.
Germany, the country which produces the most hops in the world, uses Myrcene-rich hops in combination with valerian root in herbal sleep aid medicine.
Myrcene has also historically been used as a common component in herbal remedies. In Ayurvedic medicine, for instance, high doses of Myrcene were often used in conjunction with compounds from other herbs to create more potent remedies.
Dominant in: Umpqua, Ambassador & present in Rogue
Strong evergreen flavour and aroma. Presence of pinene in cannabis varies considerably across cultivars, from undetectable to dominant, but even in relatively low quantities it is readily detectable.
Abundant in conifer trees (fir, pine), also found in common household herbs (rosemary, mint).
More commonly found in its α (alpha) form. Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene are simply two variations of pinene. The only difference between these two compounds is the base molecule’s particular class of chemicals (alkene).
Alpha-pinene is the more prevalent type; it occurs in cannabis and is the most abundant terpene found in nature.
Scientists have been studying the effects of alpha-pinene and beta-pinene for neurodegeneration-related health concerns.
Aside from delivering the distinct forest-like aroma, pinene has several therapeutic properties, including:
- Anti-inflammatory Effects
- Neurological Support
- Antimicrobial Activity
Pinene has nootropic benefits by improving blood flow to the brain and blocking an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase. Herbs that are rich in pinene are often added to respiratory tonics.
Dominant in: Rogue & Ambassador
Sweet, woody, fruity bouquet, reminiscent of green apples. May refer to any of six closely related chemical compounds, relatively uncommon in cannabis. Found in several plant species, including certain fruits and common spices such as turmeric. Serves as a natural insect repellent in many plant species, including potatoes.
Farnesene, also known as Trans-β-farnesene, is a sesquiterpene considered soothing for the mood with calming and sedative effects. It is the primary terpene found in green apple skin and is also found in sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli, hops, ginger, turmeric, potatoes, gardenias, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, and myrrh.
Farnesene medical benefits include:
- muscle relaxant;
- calming and sedative effects
- antibacterial properties
Recent studies also suggest that this terpene might even help with tooth decay.
Dominant in: Umpqua, Rogue & Ambassador
Described as having an aroma of wood, spicy, cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves. Present in most cannabis strains in varying quantities. Commonly found in many herbs and spices.
Only terpene present in the cannabis plant that interacts directly with the human body's endocannabinoid system, systematically the CB2 receptor. So it acts as a cannabinoid and binds to the CB2 receptors, and its effects have been studied extensively in medical research.
Caryophyllene is a bigger molecule than other terpenes and contains a cyclobutane ring in its molecular structure — this is rare in nature and not found in any other known cannabis-derived terpenes.
Caryophyllene’s unique molecular structure allows it to bind to endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 receptors) — providing many additional benefits most other terpenes can’t offer.
Caryophyllene binds successfully to CB2 receptors — the part of our endocannabinoid system that regulates the immune system.
Because of this unique ability, caryophyllene has been found to offer the following benefits:
- Supports the immune system
- Promotes digestive health
- May help alleviate chronic pain
- May help reduce inflammation
- Provides a gentle, soothing, relaxing effect
Dominant in: Umpqua, Rogue & Ambassador
Citrus aroma and flavour. One of the most commonly occurring terpenes found in nature.
Second-most common terpene found in cannabis. Strains containing limonene often lean towards a sour flavour profile.
Limonene is considered an uplifting terpene capable of creating a sense of euphoria. This is likely because the terpene modulates neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin. One animal study found that lemon oil vapor, which contains significant levels of limonene, served to reduce stress and elevate mood.
- Mood elevation
- stress alleviation
Dominant in: Ambassador & present in Rogue
Earthy, woody, slightly spicy aroma, and flavour. Typically a complementary terpene, combining with more dominant terpenes to produce a cultivar's unique aroma and flavour.
Found in several plant species, but its greatest concentrations are present in cannabis and hops.
Often present when beta-caryophyllene and/or trans-caryophyllene are abundant. When present, plays a natural role in a cannabis plant's defense against pests and disease.
Humulene, also known as alpha-caryophyllene, is an herbaceous terpene that is used in traditional Eastern medicine as well as modern biomedical research. It is found in many popular strains and is an essential element in forming the broad flavor and aromatic profile of cannabis. It is an “isomer” of beta caryophyllene. Isomers have the same molecular formula/number of atoms as each other but have a different chemical structure. That means humulene binds with the same receptors in our endocannabinoid system as BCP and thus shares many of its medicinal properties.
Humulene is a versatile terpene, but its most notable health benefits include:
- antitumor effects
Unlike most strains, cannabis that contains a high level of humulene is also anorectic, so that it won’t produce such a pronounced appetite boost.
This compound has a long record of use in Chinese medicine for centuries due to its wide applications.
Health areas that could benefit from using humulene include:
- Physical discomfort
- Bacterial infections
Interestingly, humulene’s anti-inflammatory properties are so potent that they have been compared to the potential of the steroid dexamethasone, which is one of the WHO’s recommended medicines.
Dominant in: Ambassador & present in Umpqua & Rogue
Bisabolol, also known as Levomenol or alpha-Bisabolol, is a sesquiterpene with a warm floral fragrance similar to honey, apples, and chamomiles. It has been used commercially in derma cosmetics for its effects, and it is found abundantly in chamomile (which contains up to 50% Bisabolol), Candeia Tree, and sage.
Bisabolol, or “levomenol,” is a terpene that is commonly used for its powerful soothing and relaxing properties.
- floral scent
- stimulates gastrointestinal tract receptors resulting in smooth muscle relaxation
Dominant in: Umpqua & present in Rogue
Borneol also naturally occurs in ginger, rosemary, camphor, and thyme. The therapeutic benefits of borneol have been harnessed and utilized in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The ancient Chinese particularly favored this invigorating terpene in the treatment of respiratory illnesses such as coughs and colds. Borneol continues to be used today for diverse therapeutic applications as:
- an analgesic
- a digestive aid
- to improve blood circulation; and
- lower fevers
Scientists are now investigating many of the wide-ranging therapeutic applications of borneol, with research uncovering its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anesthetic, and antioxidant properties.
Present in Rogue & Ambassador
Subtle, sweet and herbaceous flavour profile, with citrus and wood notes. Concentrations vary considerably across cultivars, but it is rarely a dominant terpene. Found in several plant species, including common household herbs and certain flowers. Commonly used in the manufacturing of commercial fragrances.
Present in Umpqua, Rogue & Ambassador
Sweet, floral flavour profile and aroma, reminiscent of fresh tree bark. Presents in measurable quantities in a limited number of cannabis strains. Found in many aromatic plants, including lemongrass and tea tree. Contributes to a cannabis plant's natural defense against disease.
Often used as a fragrance in the manufacturing of cosmetics and detergents.
Dominant in: Umpqua, present in Rogue & Ambassador
Spicy, floral, slightly citrusy aroma, and flavour. Can also be found in certain fruits, and several species of plants, including lavender and coriander. Rarely among the top three terpenes found in any cannabis strain. As an aromatic Linalool can present rather strongly, even in relatively low concentrations. Has been used as an insecticide, as well as an additive in many cleaning and hygiene products.
Present in Umpqua & Ambassador
Aroma can present as fruity as well as woody. Found in many cannabis strains, often present in those having significant pinene concentrations. Considered more complementary in determining the bouquet of the cultivar, rather than dominant. Found in many plant species, including several fruits, flowers and many common household spices. Terpineol may refer to one of four terpene alcohols, each exhibiting a unique aroma and flavour profile. Common ingredient used in cosmetics manufacturing due to its pleasant aroma.