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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Andreoni

Terpenes 101: What Are They & How They Work?

Updated: Feb 8

Well… we’re not going to say anything about Mark Twain’s statement. But let’s talk about something as interesting as his statement.

It's not surprising if you have a confused understanding of the buzzword — Terpenes. It's as if they are a part of the cannabis industry, and also they are not, so you'll have to live with the confusion unless you make an effort to know them. But fret not. You're not the only one with the chaos.

Just like THC and CBD, Terpenes too come from cannabinoids. Cannabis gets amazing flavors from the aromatic oils of Terpenes.

In fact, Terpenes are why there's a distinct difference in medical marijuana's appearance, taste, and effect. If you plan on getting a marijuana card, you must know what Terpenes are. So we're providing you with a Terpenes 101 guide.

Functions of Terpenes:

Terpenes are fragrant essential oils produced in the resin glands of cannabis plants. They are responsible for the plant's unique scent and are believed to interact synergistically with cannabinoids to create what is known as the "entourage effect."

There are many ways that terpenes can help medically. One way is that they can be isolated and used as natural medicines. Terpenes can also be used to enhance the effects of other medicines and reduce the side effects of other medicines accordingly.

Formation of Cannabis Terpenes:

Terpenes are produced in the trichomes of the cannabis plant. The process of forming terpenes is complex and is still being studied.

However, it is believed that terpenes are produced through the interaction of enzymes and terpenoid precursors. Secondary metabolites, such as cannabinoids, then modify the terpenes to produce the variety of aromas and flavors found in cannabis.

Why Do Plants Produce Terpenes?

Plants produce terpenes as a defense mechanism against herbivores. The terpenes can make the plant taste bad or toxic to the herbivore, making it less likely to be eaten.

Terpenes play an essential role in plant biology by attracting beneficial organisms and pollinators. By releasing essential oils with attractive aromatic compounds, terpenes help ensure the plant's success.

Do Terpenes Make You Feel High?

Terpenes are not psychoactive, meaning they do not make you feel high. However, they are thought to interact with cannabinoids to create an "entourage effect" that amplifies the psychoactive effects of THC.

For these reasons, many people believe Terpenes make you feel high. But the research says otherwise.

How Do Terpenes Work?

Studies suggest that terpenes play an essential role in differentiating the effects of various cannabis strains. And through the entourage effect, we learn that consuming the whole plant has greater effects than each of its parts.

So terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and other botanical compounds interact synergistically to produce enhanced effects.

Now that we have a basic idea about Terpenes, let's dig a little deeper by comparing and contrasting some of the other common compounds related to Terpenes:

Terpenes Vs. Terpenoids:

Terpenoids are derivatives of terpenes, which are hydrocarbons produced by plants. Hence, Terpenoids are modified terpenes that have been chemically altered. Therefore, when the cannabis plant is dried, cured, or chemically modified, the terpene atoms oxidize and become terpenoids.

Terpenoids/Terpenes are aromatic and have been shown to have various health benefits.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vs. Cannabidiol (CBD):

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) cannabinoids are found in cannabis. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the "high" feeling associated with cannabis use, while CBD is not psychoactive.

CBD is thought to have various medical benefits, including relieving pain and anxiety.

There is growing evidence that the terpenes present in cannabis strains play a role in people's effects. It is thought that the terpene profile, together with the cannabinoid content and tetrahydrocannabinol, is what determines the "strain profile" of a particular cannabis product.

This hypothesis is still being explored, but it may explain why different strains produce different effects.

Cannabis Terpenes vs. Botanical Terpenes:

Cannabis-derived terpenes come from the cannabis plant, whereas native terpenes, also known as Botanical Terpenes, come from other plants. Cannabis-derived terpenes are used for medical purposes, whereas native terpenes are not.

Cannabis-derived terpenes have a similar flavor to marijuana, but botanical terpenes offer a variety of flavors and aromas that can be different from cannabis.

Botanical-derived terpenes can similarly activate the entourage effect as cannabis-derived terpenes, and they help cannabinoids work better after consumption.

The Terpenes in Medical Marijuana:

The five most popular terpenes found in cannabis are Myrcene, Limonene, Terpinolene, Linalool, and Caryophyllene, (check our Instagram profile @cannadocsfl every Tuesday for #TerpeneTuesdays). These terpenes are responsible for the distinct flavors and aromas associated with different cannabis strains.

Myrcene has a fruity or earthy flavor profile, Limonene is citrusy, Terpinolene is lime-like, Linalool is flowery and lavender-like, and Caryophyllene has a spicy, black pepper aroma and taste.

Here is a list of Terpenes found in Medical Marijuana — Explained


Limonene is one of a group of flavonoids known as anthocyanins. Lemons, limes, and oranges contain high concentrations of limonene, which has mood-enhancing effects. Limonene gives citrus its bright, clean scent, and it can be a pick-me-up when you need a little boost of energy.

It is also a terpene with antidepressant, antifungal, and antispasmodic properties. Limonene also helps boost your immune system, making it a good choice for strains high in limonene if you try to fight off a cold.

Limonene is known to help focus and may be useful in treating depression, chronic fatigue, and pain related to muscle spasms.


Myrcene is a terpene found in Cannabis sativa and many other plants. It has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties.

Myrcene is also a sedative and can increase the potency of THC. Its effects are similar to those of other terpenes, such as limonene and valencene.


Linalool is a relaxant and anticonvulsant with demonstrated anti-seizure properties. It is found in plants like lavender and coriander, and cannabis. Linalool is a safe and effective seizure medication for some patients.

Linalool has long been known to have antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. Recent studies have shown that linalool can also elevate mood and induce relaxation. As a result, strains with high levels of linalool may be beneficial in managing anxiety on days when stress is elevated.


This terpene is responsible for the pine forest's intense, refreshing aroma, and it also has relaxing and calming effects.

Pinene is a good choice for pain relief when inflammation is involved. It can help clear the mind, making it useful on busy days when you need relief but want to stay focused.


The terpene caryophyllene is especially effective in reducing stress and anxiety. Additionally, it is a powerful pain reliever, which may make the medications you are already taking more effective. This could lead to a decrease in your prescription painkiller use.


Humulene has various beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects, making it excellent for pain relief. It can also help suppress the appetite, making it a good choice for patients who want to avoid getting the munchies.


Terpinolene is a terpene that adds a piney and citrusy aroma and a slightly floral flavor to strains. Strains containing terpinolene are often associated with euphoric and uplifting effects, and terpene is also found naturally in nutmeg, apples, and cumin.


Many beneficial compounds are found in plants, and camphene is one such example. Camphene can be found in common tea trees, spices, nutmeg, ginger, dill, rosemary, and fennel. Studies have shown that camphene could help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides— two major contributors to heart disease.


When it comes to cannabis, ocimene is considered a natural pesticide and air purifier. This terpene also contains anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties, benefiting some consumers.

However, strains containing higher ocimene concentrations may cause some people to cough more, making the terpene unintentionally decongestant.


The sweet-scented terpene, Geraniol, can also be found in rose oil, blueberries, peaches, and grapefruit.

Strains containing Gerrinal such as Agent Orange, Black Cherry Soda, and Dutch Hawaiian are a great choice to consume in the summer, as Geraniol is a natural mosquito repellant.


How do Terpenes affect my body?

Terpenes are believed to have many beneficial properties to one's health, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Some terpenes are known to interact with the human body's endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating many physiological processes.

Are terpenes good for sleep?

Terpenes can have different effects on different people. Some people find that terpenes help them sleep better, while others have the opposite effect. It is recommended that people experiment with different terpenes to see which ones work best for them.

Are terpenes legal and safe?

Yes, terpenes are legal and safe. Terpenes are natural compounds found in the cannabis plant and other plants.

Are Terpenes Psychoactive?

Terpenes are not psychoactive, meaning they do not get you high. Terpenes are safe and do not cause any adverse side effects.


Cannabis Doctors of Florida is the #1 Medical Marijuana Clinic in Miami. Certified by the state of Florida to help provide Legal, Safe, and Medically Effective Health Therapies for those who qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card.

Contact a Cannabis Doctors of Florida office in your area and Learn How They Can Help

You! Schedule an Appointment TODAY and Discover the Difference Legal Cannabis can

have on your Physical and Mental Well-being!

Dr. Andreoni

(305) 893-3989

Instagram: @CannaDocsFL

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