Terpenes 101

Have you ever wondered why your cannabis smells the way it does?

Maybe it's a little skunky, and with notes of pine and lemon, or even spices and cloves.

Terpenes are what guide the smell and taste of your weed, and are responsible for the aromas and flavors you experience when you take a whiff of fresh bud or inhale from a pre-roll or bong. Terpenes can also have specific health benefits, and are known to promote various effects from relaxation to focus to sleepy.

Our friends at Chemistry shared this helpful chart for breaking down terpenes, their effects, and their aromatic profiles. Read on to learn more about five of the top terpenes: Linalool, Caryophyllene, Pinene, Limonene, and Myrcene.

Meet Linalool


Found In: Lavender, Sweet Basil, Rosewood

Flavor: Floral, Spicy

Effect: Calming, Relaxed, Sleepy

Linalool is extremely common in the plant world, found in over 200 types of plants. It's also very common in the human world, being one of the major terpenes used in perfumed products such as soap, shampoo, detergents and lotions. In fact, Linalool is used in over half of scented products.

But Linalool doesn't just smell really great–it has some unique and powerful health benefits as well. Linalool's sedative properties make it useful in treating insomnia, and a 2010 study indicates that it could be used to increase social behavior and decrease aggression in mice.

Meet Caryophyllene


Found In: Black Pepper, Clove, Cinnamon

Flavor: Spice, Pepper, Clove

Effect: Pain Relief, Calming, Relaxed

Caryophyllene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. Ever get a tickle in your nose and sneeze after hitting one of our vapes? Chances are it’s high in Caryophyllene. This sesquiterpene has a spicy aroma, similar to cracked black pepper. It’s also present in many herbs and spices, including clove, cinnamon and basil.

If you’re dealing with stress, anxiety, inflammation, or autoimmune issues, look for strains high in Caryophyllene. The full extent of Caryophyllene’s healing potential is still unknown, but the research we do have is incredibly promising for this sneeze-inducing terpene.

Meet Pinene


Found In: Conifers, Rosemary, Basil

Flavor: Pine, Rosemary, Fresh

Aroma: Woodsy, Green Pine

Effect: Alert, Focused, Calm

Pinene is the most common terpenoid found in nature. And while pinene naturally repels insects, humans tend to experience a calm but alert effect from the pine-fresh monoterpene. Pinene has also been shown to counteract the paranoia, anxiety and memory loss people occasionally feel while under the embrace of our favorite flower. Familiar with that too-high feeling? Give a cultivar higher in pinene a try.

Meet Limonene


Found In: Cannabis, Lemon, Fennel, Spearmint

Flavor: Citrus Notes, Zesty

Fun Fact: Natural Antidepressant

If you're one of those folks who enjoy smoking flower but find it nips your day goals in the bud, consider using flower or concentrates with high levels of the terpene Limonene. Limonene is uplifting and energizing, perfect for those times when you'd like to indulge, but also need to get stuff done.

Commonly used in aromatherapy for its energizing and uplifting effects, this zesty terpene is found in all the rinds of your favorite citrus fruits and more, including the cannabis plant. Limonene is also often used in cleaning products due to its pleasant odor and naturally powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

If you're looking to elevate your mood or relive a little stress, try a strain high in Limonene.

Meet Myrcene


Found In: Mango, Lemongrass, Wild Thyme, Hops

Flavor: Citrus, Spice, Earth

Aroma: Tropical, Clove, Musk

Effect: Sedating, Pain Relief, Anti-Inflammatory

Long day and desperately need to relax? Reach for a cultivar high in myrcene, one of the most common (and abundant) terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Not only is myrcene great for relaxation and sleep, studies suggest it also improves immune function and helps with chronic pain.

Traditional medicine has been using the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of myrcene for many years, chiefly through plant-derived essential oils that contain high levels of myrcene in conjunction with other terpenes.

Although found in many sativa cultivars, myrcene is believed to cause the well known “couch lock” effect associated with heavy indicas. So be sure to clear your schedule when indulging in a myrcene-dominant product!


Portions of this post have been repurposed with permission from Chemistry's Better Know a Terpene blog series. Check it out!

Cover photo credit to Moon Made Farms.