Everything You Need to Know About Terpenes

Everything You Need to Know About Terpenes

by Erica Garza

Responsible for the aroma found in the cannabis plant, terpenes also offer a host of health benefits from treating pain to relieving anxiety. Secreted from the same glands that produce THC and CBD in cannabis, terpenes are potent and carry the potential to affect animal and human behavior when inhaled. If you’ve ever wondered what terpenes are, or if they hold pharmacological value, read on to discover what researchers have uncovered about these aromatic compounds.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the essential oils that give cannabis its distinct smell, which can range from floral to piney to skunky. But they’re not only found in cannabis. Terpenes are found in almost every type of fragrant flora, and they are thought to protect plants from predators and attract pollinators.

Types of Terpenes and Their Scents

Over 200 terpenes, or terpenoids, are found in the cannabis plant. Their smell and potential health benefits vary significantly from strain to strain, though some of the most promising ones found in cannabis include:

  • Myrcene: Earthy scent
  • Caryophyllene: Peppery
  • Linalool: Lavender
  • Terpinolene: Piney and floral
  • Cineole: Eucalyptus

Health Benefits

According to Wolfgang Dostmann, Ph.D. and a professor in the department of pharmacology at University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine, terpenes have been found to work collaboratively with cannabinoids like CBD and THC to create what’s known as the “entourage effect,” which determines how the cannabis interacts with your body. Cannabis and CBD oil with terpenes can affect any or all of the following ailments, depending on the strain.

Pain and Inflammation (Myrcene, Caryophyllene)

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis. Together with caryophyllene, it works to ward off pain and inflammation. In a study of 2032 patients with 21 illnesses that included migraine, arthritis and chronic pain, cannabis high in myrcene and caryophyllene were the most preferred to relieve pain and inflammation.

Anxiety and Depression (Linalool)

CBD with minimal THC and a high content of the terpene linalool has had positive effects in patients with anxiety and depression. Linalool has also been studied in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients, in which it was shown to reverse the hallmarks of the disease while restoring cognitive and emotional functions via an anti-inflammatory effect.

Epilepsy (Linalool)

The terpene linalool has also shown promise for epilepsy patients, due to its seizure-stopping capabilities. In 2018, CBD trials successfully transitioned the position of the drug in the UK from “anecdotal and promising” to “proven to be effective.”

Cancer and Heart Disease (Terpinolene)

Though terpinolene often exists in small amounts in cannabis, its value should not be underestimated. Researchers have discovered that this terpene can play a role in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease.

Fungal and Bacterial Infections (Cineole)

According to the “Handbook of Cannabis Therapeutics,” the terpene cineole demonstrated antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis and antifungal defense against Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Candida albicans. In one study, cineole even prevented the sexual transmission of Herpes simplex virus type 2.

Keep in mind that before treating any serious medical condition with cannabis, you are advised to check in with a healthcare professional, especially if you are already taking prescribed medication.

Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in Time, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, The Telegraph and Vice. She lives in Los Angeles.


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What Are Terpenes? Why Do They Matter?

What Are Terpenes? Why Do They Matter?

You’ve probably heard someone describe the taste of cannabis before, often using words like “pine” “spice” and “earthy”.

But what causes these different undertones? The answer is Terpenes, which are responsible for the smells and tastes of plants and fruits in nature.

What are terpenes and why should you care?

Terpenes are the fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity. These oils, secreted in the flower’s sticky resin glands, also appear in many other herbs, fruits, and plants. They play a significant role in the therapeutic and medicinal use of cannabis by creating subtle differences in effects across different strains.

Taste and Flavors of Terpenes

Bright lemony flavors, for example, are known as an indicator of energy improvement, while more earthy tones are thought to help you relax. Although the full range of terpene benefits are under-researched, studies have shown that terpenes work in synergy with THC and other cannabinoids to improve the therapeutic value of cannabis products.

Medical Benefits of Terpenes

There are a huge variety of terpenes, each responsible for different smells like notes of pine, pepper, fruit, and flowers. Cannabis plants have over 120 identified terpenes that can range dramatically in their aromas. Terpenes are also thought to be associated with the psychoactive effects of strains, with different smells often being associated with certain effects.

Terpenes have also been shown to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC when consumed together, upping its therapeutic value and contributing to the entourage effect.


Common Terpenes & Their Benefits


If Cannabinoids are a ship’s engine, the terpenes can be thought of as the rudder. At Papa & Barkley, we maintain the terpene profile found naturally in the plant and do not add terpenes back into our products (a process known as reterpening). As always, our philosophy is: why mess with a good thing?

Here are some common Terpenes and their benefits:


  • Linalool: commonly found in lavender. Linalool helps provide anxiety relief, sedation, and pain relief.
  • Myrcene: commonly found in mango, lemongrass, thyme, and hops. Myrcene helps provide muscle tension relief, anti-inflammation and produces a soothing effect.
  • Limonene: commonly found in fruit rinds and peppermint. Limonene can be used to treat gastrointestinal complications, heartburn, and depression. It acts as an antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogen, dissolves gallstones, and enhances mood.
  • Pinene: commonly found in pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley, and dill. Pinene is useful for alertness, memory retention, antiseptic, and counteracts some THC effects.
  • Caryophyllene: commonly found in black pepper, cloves, and cotton. Caryophyllene is a gastroprotective and has anti-inflammatory properties.