Cannabis Knowledge: Terpenes & The Entourage Effect

“You can really smell the terpenes on this one” is something you might hear from your budtender when smelling a jar of marijuana. What exactly is a terpene? Terpenes are volatile aromatic molecules that evaporate easily and are easily detectable to the nose.

“Various researchers have emphasized the pharmacological importance of terpenes, or terpenoids, which form the basis of aromatherapy, a popular holistic healing modality. Marijuana’s compelling fragrance and particular psychoactive flavor are determined by the predominate terpenes in a strain” (Project CBD) .  Over 100 terpenes have been identified within the cannabis plant but there are only a handful of noteworthy or “noseworthy” aromas.


Linalool: Most commonly found in floral plants and smells of lavendar. This terpene has been found to be immobilizing, sedating, anticonvulsant, and pain relieving

  • *High Linalool Cannabis Strains: G-13, Amnesia Haze, Lavender, LA Confidential

a-PineneMost commonly found in pine trees, thus creates a strong piney scent. This terpene frequently acts as an anti-inflammatory, a bronchodilator, an anti-bacterial, and an aid in memory function.

  • *High Pinene Cannabis Strains: Jack Herer, Chemdawg, Bubba Kush, Trainwreck, Super Silver Haze

Beta- Caryophyllene: Most commonly found in black pepper. This terpene is known to be an anti-inflammatory, helps reduce anxiety, and protects the lining of the digestive tract.

  • *High Caryophyllene Cannabis Strains: Hash Plant

D-Limonene: This terpene is responsible for the scent in citrus plants. Lemon, Orange, and Grapefruit have high levels of limonene. Research has suggests that limonene increases serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, is an analgesic (pain relief), helps reduct anxiety, is an anti-depressant, and even can kill breast cancer cells.

  • *High Limonene Cannabis Strains: OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Jack the Ripper, Lemon Skunk

Myrcene: This terpene is commonly found in cannabis’ close cousin, hops! Myrcene has a distinct “skunk” aroma. This terpene acts as a sedative, a sleep aidm and a muscle relaxant.

  • *High Myrcene Cannabis Strains: Pure Kush, El Nino, Himalayan Gold, Skunk #1, White Widow

Nerolidol: This terpene is found in ginger and jasmine. It creates a perfume and floral-like scent, with a hint of sharpness and fresh-peeled bark. This terpene is known to produce anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-spasmodic, and sedating effects.

  • *High Nerolidol Cannabis Strains: Island Sweet Skunk, Jack Herer, Skywalker OG, GSC, Blue Dream, Chem Dawg

While terpenes like Lavendar have been used for aromatherapy for decades, recent research has found that these scented molecules can improve the effectiveness of cannabis medicines. Most terpenes alone hold medicinal value, yet when paired with other activated cannabis compounds, such as cannabinoids, their theraputic qualities are enhanced. Likewise, the medicinal effects of the cannabis plant are also enhanced by the presence of certain terpenes. Terpenes (terpenoids) and cannabinoids have a synergistic relationship with each other. Meaning, that when combined with each other they create an unstoppable force of medicinal value.  This phenemenon has a name, “The Entourage Effect”. This means that the combination of cannabinoids with terpenes has a greater benefit than isolating these molecules from each other and using them on their own.  Essentially, the sum of all the parts of the cannabis plant, or “whole plant medicine” has more medicinal benefits.


“Terpenes and the ‘Entourage Effect.’” Project CBD: Medical Marijuana & Cannabinoid Science,


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