What Are Terpenes & Why Do They Matter?

what are terpenes

The cannabis plant is extremely complex, and each strain can impact users in a different way. So what distinguishes one cannabis strain from another and just what are terpenes?

One of the main differences between strains is their terpene content. Terpenes affect how your weed smells and tastes, and they may have medicinal effects themselves, as well as amplifying the effects of other compounds. Here’s everything you need to know about terpenes and how they impact your cannabis experience.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes aren’t exclusive to cannabis. In fact, these aromatic compounds occur in a wide variety of plants. Terpenes help wild plants attract pollinators, repel pests, and keep away germs and disease.

Some plants with strong terpene content include pine, lavender, citrus, thyme, and mint. Many essential oils are made from these plants that are high in terpenes, which is why their scent is so strong and concentrated.

What Do Terpenes Have to Do with Cannabis?

Terpenes are becoming a more common topic in the cannabis world. As science evolves, we’re learning more about the differences between cannabis strains and how to harness the power of terpenes.

The cannabis plant contains over 150 types of terpenes. They’re found in the trichomes of female cannabis plants. These are the small, sticky, sometimes colorful hairs poking out from your bud. These terpenes give pigmentation to both the leaves and buds of the plant, which attracts pollinators and deters pests.

Cannabis plants with more terpenes will usually have a stronger, richer, and more distinctive aroma. Some strains are naturally high in terpenes, but there are many factors that go into the concentration of terpenes in each batch of flower, including including indoor vs. outdoor growing, temperature, exposure to light, nutrient levels, and harvesting method

What’s the Difference Between Terpenes and Cannabinoids?

Terpenes are different from cannabinoids. The most common cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but over 100 cannabinoids can be found in marijuana plants. Both cannabinoids and terpenes attach to receptors in your endocannabinoid system, but cannabinoids have the strongest impact on your body, especially the psychoactive effects of THC. Terpenes definitely impact how each strain of cannabis feels, but scientists are still figuring out exactly how.

Most terpenes occur in small concentrations in cannabis, but they can still have huge benefits for both recreational and medical marijuana users. Let’s talk about how terpenes can affect your cannabis journey.

How Do Different Terpenes Change Your Cannabis Experience?

If you regularly smoke cannabis, you probably have some strains that are your favorites. You love the way Alien Pie calms you down and makes watching Riverdale even more hilarious, or dig how Blue Dream Blowfish always helps you get out of your funk and accomplish your to-do list. But what makes your favorite strains different from the rest?

The terpene profile of your cannabis plays a huge part in how it smells and tastes. Many terpenes like limonene and pinene are easy to identify just by smelling the cannabis flower that contains them. If you like the flavor experience of one strain of cannabis, try to find other strains that contain similar terpenes.

Terpenes also facilitate cannabinoid absorption. They affect your high by modifying how your body absorbs the cannabinoids in your bud. This means terpenes can boost or reduce the amount of THC, CBD, CBN, or other cannabinoids in your flower.

What Are the Medical Benefits of Terpenes?

Terpenes may have medicinal purposes. Studies have shown that terpenes can have profound impacts on your body and mind because they may increase dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and GABA activity.

Different terpenes may help people with a wide variety of conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Skin problems
  • Bronchitis
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Asthma
  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Cancer

So how can you take full advantage of the terpene profile of your weed?

Which Cannabis Products Contain Terpenes?

The entourage effect is a theory that states that consuming the whole cannabis plant provides a deeper, stronger, and more medically beneficial experience than consuming THC alone. Additional cannabinoids work alongside terpenes through the entourage effect to create a unique and distinct cannabis strain.

Whole cannabis flower contains the cannabis plant’s full concentration of terpenes. Smoking flower, using full-spectrum tinctures, or dabbing concentrates allows you to get the full benefits of your weed by utilizing the entourage effect.

Creating distillate or many cannabis extracts removes the additional cannabinoid and terpene content of the plant, leaving only THC (and sometimes CBD) behind. There’s definitely nothing wrong with consuming products that only contain THC, but you might notice weaker or less complex effects. 

Many vape cartridges and edibles don’t contain the plant’s natural terpenes. If you want to experiment with the different terpenes found in cannabis, you should try flower, pre-rolls, concentrates, or any edibles and vape cartridges that are labeled “full spectrum.” If you’re not sure which products contain the plant’s original terpene profile, stop in to Blackstone Valley Cannabis and talk to one of our knowledgable budtenders.

The Most Common Cannabis Terpenes

There are over 100 terpenes in the cannabis plant, but we’re still discovering how they all function. Here are some of the terpenes we know the most about.


Myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. It’s also strong in mangoes, lemongrass, and thyme. It has a spicy, musky smell that’s similar to cloves.

Recently, scientists found evidence that the myrcene terpene may work as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic. It may even help protect the brain from damage after a stroke.


Pinene is one of the easiest terpenes to identify. It has a distinctive smell that’s found in pine needles, rosemary, and basil. 

Pinene may have anti-inflammatory properties, prevent ulcers, and improve airflow to your lungs.


Limonene is produced by the peels of citrus fruits, giving oranges and lemons their signature scent. It’s easy to pick up this terpene in many cannabis strains, especially when they have “lemon” or “sour” in the name.

The limonene terpene may have many medical uses as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral. It could even help patients with chronic pain or depression.


Linalool is found in high concentrations in over 200 plants, including lavender, birch, and cilantro. It has a spicy floral aroma.

Linalool is best known for its potential calming and soothing effects. It may also act as a pain reliever and antidepressant.


This true terpene is found in black pepper, cloves, ginger, sage, and many other herbs. Humulene is also highly-concentrated in hops. It has a spicy, woody, earthy aroma. 

Humulene may work as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and analgesic. 

Scientists are still exploring all of the different terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Some other prevalent terpenes include:

  • Caryophyllene
  • Geraniol
  • Borneal
  • Eucalyptol
  • Ocimene
  • Phytol
  • Terpinolene
  • Nerolidol

This handy terpene chart helps you learn more about these terpenes and find cannabis strains most associated with them.

Where Can I Find Terpene-Rich Cannabis in Massachusetts?

Ready to harness the power of terpenes? The dispensary agents at Blackstone Valley Cannabis can help!

Blackstone Valley Cannabis offers the best cannabis in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. All of our flower is acquired less than 120 days before it is sold, guaranteeing it’s always the freshest in town. We carry a wide variety of THC products, including:

Our dispensary agents will work with you to find the best strain containing terpenes you want to try and give advice on how to use the items you select. Visit Blackstone Valley Cannabis to find the best cannabis products today!

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