The Complete Guide to Terpenes: Terpenes Explained
Published on 7/22/22
We've gone over what cannabis terpenes are and what they do, but now it's time to find the perfect terpene for you! So we'll deep dive into all the types of terpenes and what makes up their aromas, tastes, and effects. Let's get started.
A Cannabis Terpene Guide
If you want a deep dive into what terpenes are, and you're asking yourself right now, "What are terps?" make sure to check out our blog post, "What are Cannabis Terpenes and What Do They Do?" Here's a very brief rundown that will answer questions like, "What are terpenes used for" and "what are the main terpenes benefits?"
Terpenes (aka "terps" and "terpenoids) are oils produced by plants that have strong odors to repel potential predators and attract insects that help with pollination. Found in almost every plant in existence, there are over 50,000 terpenes discovered to date, with over 150 different cannabis terpenes known to exist. Terpenes are believed to have many medicinal benefits, including inflammation, nausea, pain relief, and stress reduction. Each strain has a unique amount and combination of terpenes, which is why strains smell and taste different.
How to Read the Terpenes Chart
We can make better sense of terpenes by looking at this terpene chart, which breaks them down into four larger categories based on aroma and taste. The four base flavor profiles: sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter, are the starting points for tastes and aromas that are found in a plant. Then those four flavors are broken down into more specific flavor profiles and break down even further until you reach particular identifiers unique to different cannabis strains.
Cannabis Terpene Aroma
Terpenes are the reason cannabis has such a distinct smell, and the smell is tied directly to the flavor. The various aromas secreted from plants attract bugs for pollination or repel predator insects that would eat the plants. These break down into eight overarching flavor types: citrus, dairy, nutty, vegetal, sharp, warm, fruity, and flowery, and break down into specific profiles, like "lemon" and "orange" for citrus.
Cannabis Terpene Taste
Working hand-in-hand with aroma, a terpene's taste profile can be seen on the terpenes cannabinoids chart, going from the four base profiles to much more specific characteristics. To find a cannabis strain with a flavor profile you enjoy, look to the outer rings of the terpene guide and look backward to the center to see the different flavors a strain encompasses. For example, the strain Super Lemon Haze tastes like lemongrass and sweet lemon, which belong to the "lemon" flavor profile, classified under "citrus" and "sour."
Cannabis Terpene Effects
Beyond their flavors and smells, terpenes' effects include unique medicinal properties that combine with other chemical compounds within cannabis to interact with our endocannabinoid system to form the entourage effect, wherein the compounds strengthen one another and their impact on the body. For example, Myrcene makes it easier for cannabinoids to be absorbed into the bloodstream faster, and Limonene increases serotonin levels to alter how cannabis affects our mood.
List of Terpenes
Myrcene is the most prolific terpene in cannabis and can make up as much as 65% of a strain's terpene profile. It smells earthy and slightly sweet and fruity, like red grapes. It's thought to reduce inflammation and chronic pain, and strains with high Myrcene counts include White Widow and Special Kush.
Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, Pinene is a terpene that tastes and smells a lot like you might think based on its name. It smells like pine (as in pine trees) and is also found in citrus fruits. Some of the most popular strains with high Pinene counts include Blue Dream and Harlequin
Anti-inflammatory properties, along with side effects that are beneficial to alleviating symptoms of cancer treatments, are the medicinal markers of caryophyllene. This terpene is also in lavender and black pepper and has a unique spicy, peppery flavor profile. Super Silver Haze is one of the strains with a high caryophyllene count.
Commonly found in lemons, limes, and oranges, Limonene's flavor and aromatic profile is highly citric, with most notes being very lemon-forward. It's thought to reduce appetite, have anti-inflammatory properties, and is often found in cleaning products. Some of the most popular strains high in limonene include Strawberry Banana and Wedding Cake.
Floral, sweet, and a bit citrusy, Terpinolene is a common ingredient in perfumes and cosmetics. Its medicinal properties are thought to be antibiotic and antioxidant. Strains high in terpinolene include Girl Scout Cookies and Jack Herer.
Also found in lavender, cinnamon, and coriander, the Linalool terpene has a spicy and floral flavor profile and is known for its strong sedative and relaxing properties. Lavender and OG Shark are two strains high in linalool terpenes.
Eucalyptol, also known as cineole, is a minor terpene not found in large quantities in any given strain. The most prominent strains include Super Silver Haze and Headband. It has a minty flavor profile and is thought to help alleviate chronic pain and slow the growth of bacteria.
Also known as levomenol and bisabolol, this terpene has a very floral aroma and is used heavily by the cosmetics industry. Some of its most beneficial side effects include anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. It is commonly found in strains like Pink Kush and ACDC.
Known for its antioxidant and antifungal properties, this secondary terpene can be commonly found in jasmine and lemongrass. Its flavor profile is woody and earthy, with a sweet mix of floral and citrus aromas. Strains like Sweet Skunk and Skywalker OG are high in trans-nerolidol.
Humulene is the earthy, woody, spicy terpene found in clove, sage, and hops. Some of its medical properties include preventing cancer cells from growing and reducing appetite. Humulene can be found in Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel, and White Widow.
Delta 3 Carene
With a sweet, almost piney flavor profile, it's not surprising that this terpene can be found in plants like rosemary, basil, cedar, and pine. Delta 3 Carene is thought to stimulate memory and help alleviate side effects associated with osteoporosis and arthritis. This terpene can be found in strains such as AK-47 and Jack Herer.
Musky, damp, and earthy, camphene is a terpene often mistaken for myrcene because of its flavor and aromatic profile. Camphene is thought to have prominent antioxidant properties and is found in strains like Ghost OG and Strawberry Banana.
This terpene has a very minty flavor profile and can be found in herbs like rosemary, mint, and camphor. It is an excellent insect repellent and is thought to have specific anti-cancer properties. Some strains that are high in Borneol include Amnesia Haze and Golden Haze.
Found most commonly in Valencia oranges (where it gets its name), this terpene is known for its super citrus-forward flavor and aroma. Because of that, it's often used as an insect repellent (much like camphene). One of the most popular strains you'll find that contains Valencene is Agent Orange.
Rose and a fruity aroma of peaches and plums are the identifiable flavors of Geraniol, which can also be commonly found in lemons and tobacco. It's frequently used in body lotions and various bath and beauty products; it's also thought to be beneficial as an antioxidant and neuroprotectant. One of the most popular strains you'll find that contains this terpene is Amnesia Haze.