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Terpenes Explained

Some of the best things about a good CBD product are the terpenes. These helpful and powerful little guys are produced by cannabis plants and when used in conjunction with the cannabinoids found in CBD they are a powerful team.

The problem is most of us have no idea what terpenes are or what they do. This Q&A Guide should help clear up some of our questions about the amazing and powerful family of terpenes.

Questions and Answers Terpenes

Q. What part of the plant produces terpenes? 

A. Terpenes are made in the trichomes of the plant.

Q. What are trichomes? 

A. Trichomes are sticky mushroom-shaped chrystals that form on portions of the plant. These tiny crystals are very sticky and they produce fragrance terpenes. These crystals are produced as a defense mechanism. In nature, the fragrance terpenes are intended to ward off insects and other creatures.


Q. What are the types of terpenes and what might they do?


Hops Terpenes HumuleeHumulene us a terpene that has a “hoppy” taste and aroma. It is a very common terpene that has been shown in some studies to be a spectacular anti-inflammatory tool.  Studies like “Preventive and therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the sesquiterpene α-humulene in experimental airways allergic inflammation” claim that “Humulene, given either orally or by aerosol, exhibited marked anti-inflammatory properties in a murine model of airways allergic inflammation, an effect that seemed to be mediated via reduction of inflammatory mediators, adhesion molecule expression and transcription factors activation.”

A few studies have paired the terpene Humulene and the terpene Caryophyllene together for a number of studies on cancer treatment and preventions. According to studies like this one and this one, when Caryophyllene and Humulene team up they have been successful in preventing the growth of cancer cells.


Orange Spice Terpene Sabinene

Sabinene is a terpene that is found in a variety of spice based plants such as some spruces, basil, and nutmeg. Most people say it has an orange spice or “holiday” fragrance and taste. However, Sabinene is a monoterpene which means that Sabinene may not be found in the cannabis plant at the concentration levels as other terpenes.

In one study published on research gate, said that “results suggest that M. gummifera essential oil, sabinene and myrcene should be explored as a natural source of new antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs for the development of food supplements, nutraceuticals or plant-based medicines.”  So for Sabinene, we are in a wait and see situation, as far as research. It should be exciting to see what these little guys can bring to the table.


lilac purple terpene TerpineolTerpineol is a terpene that has a lilac or light flowery aroma. That means it is most commonly used to fragrance bath and body products. As great as this terpene is for its smell it may be even better when it comes to its possible health benefits.

According to one study published on Research Direct “Besides its application as an aroma compound, α-terpineol has also demonstrated antioxidant capacity against peroxyl radicals and has also presented cytostatic effect against six human cancerous cell lines from five different histologic and embryonic origins (breast, lung, prostate, ovarian, and leukemia). Although, when compared to doxorubicin, the antiproliferative activity of α-terpineol was considerably lower (∼100 times), α-terpineol presented quite a similar profile to that obtained for limonene, a monoterpene already known for its cancer-prevention activity” It’s obvious by the lack of research that more research must be done, but so far the results are promising.


The Phellandrene terpene has been considered a staple in modern western medicine for a long time. It is used in a huge array of currently available medicines and treatments. Mostly as an anti-infection/anti-bacterial component. The aroma and flavor of this mighty terpene have a minty flavor with citrus undertones.

While Phellandrene is suggested to be an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent it is typically paired up with other terpenes for research and medicinal purposes. A prime example of this is a study called “Chemical Composition, Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Proliferative Activities of Essential Oils of Plants from Burkina Faso”  Which suggest that Phellandrene may help in the reduced growth of cells such as cancer cells when paired with other essential oils from plants. Phellandrene can be found in cinnamon, garlic, ginger, and dill among other places.


Black Pepper Terpene Caryophyllene

If you are looking for an all-around powerful terpene then this is the one for you. The sheer amount of research around the benefits of this terpene is mind-blowing. There are lots of studies like this one published by NIH (National Institute of Health) that suggests Caryophyllene appears to be a promising candidate for the treatment of chronic pain due to high safety and low adverse effects profiles.

Caryophyllene has a spice flavor some say taste peppery. Although Caryophyllene is found in cannabis plants, the black pepper plant actually produces a lot of this terpene. In fact, many of the studies done on Caryophyllene benefits are conducted using black pepper extract. One such study called “Black Pepper Essential Oil to Enhance Intravenous Catheter Insertion in Patients With Poor Vein Visibility: A Controlled Study” found that “Topical application of black pepper is a viable and effective way to enhance vein visibility and palpability prior to intravenous insertion in patients with limited vein accessibility; it also improves ease of IVC insertion.”


Pinene is easily the most widely found terpene in nature. It has a piney aroma and can be found in most evergreens, some citrus fruit, and most conifers. Not only is pinene readily available, it’s also shown to be very beneficial to health.

There are many available studies and reviews that show a variety of potential uses for this terpene. That list includes antibacterial uses, chemo-deterrent treatments, improved memory retention, gestational health, and anti-inflammatory. Pinene is a bronchodilator. That means that it helps improve airflow to the lungs.

Recent studies like this one published on the NIH site even claim pinene can be helpful as an antiviral. Making it potentially useful in the treatment of some STD’s. “These results suggest that the monoterpenes beta-pinene and limonene exhibit antiherpetic activity and might be used as a potential antiviral agents in recurrent herpes labialis.”. On top of all that Pinene has shown real potential as an anti-arthritic agent.


Fragrant as a rose and there does not seem to be a thorn anywhere to be found, unless you are an insect that is. Currently, due to its rose scent, it is often used in insect repellants such as citronella candles. However, geraniol has so many potential health benefits that instead of trying to tell you myself I am just going to have you read the conclusion of this systematic review of available research called “The pharmacalogical properties of Geraniol: A Review”  (GE = Gerniol)

“Accumulating evidence in last the decades has indicated that GE is a pure botanical compound without adverse effects, exerting diverse activities by mainly regulating protein expression, suggesting that GE could become a novel drug candidate to treat various diseases. The cytotoxic effect of GE on cancer cells indicates that GE could treat cancer and reduce the mortality of cancer patients. The anti-inflammatory and oxidative effects of GE indicates that GE could protect organ damage and treat ulcerative colitis. The antifungal activity of GE indicates that GE could protect patients from fungal infection.”

“The antidiabetic effect of GE indicates that GE could treat diabetes. The antinociceptive activity of GE indicates that GE could be used as an analgesic in clinical trials. However, anticancer effects of GE should be clarified in vivo in more animal models, and later in human patients, to confirm the inhibitory effect of GE on malignancy. Also, it is worthwhile to explore the molecular basis underlying pharmacological actions (e.g., antimicrobial and antiarrhythmic activities). The lack of information about definitive targets of GE would be a reason against the application of GE in clinical trials.”


woodland terpene

Even though the terpene Camphene is a minor component as far as the terpenes in cannabis are concerned, it’s certainly no slacker. Camphene has a musty, woodland odor that is rather pungent as sometimes described as a “damp” smell.

It has shown real potential to help regulate cholesterol. In a study published on the NIH site, they found  “Taken together, the hypolipidemic activity of camphene and the readiness to manufacture this monoterpene, we propose that camphene could develop to an alternative hypolipidemic drug.” “further investigations are warranted for the development of camphene as a hypolipidemic agent.”

In another study also published on the NIH site it claimed that Camphene may help with the growth and spread of existing cancer cells. “Importantly, camphene exerted antitumor activity in vivo by inhibiting subcutaneous tumor growth of highly aggressive melanoma cells in a syngeneic model, suggesting a promising role of this compound in cancer therapy.” Overall, Camphene is considered to be one of the more useful terpenes that can be found in the cannabis and hemp plants.


Lavendar terpenes linaloolLinalool not only has a really fun name to say, but it’s also has a pleasant lavender aroma. In fact, linalool can be found in lavender and other plants in natures. More than one study regarding Linalool uses linalool derived from other sources than cannabis, such as lavender.

Some of the possible health benefits from linalool include anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. In one study found on Science Direct titled Anti-inflammatory activity of linalool and linalyl acetate constituents of essential oils”  which claims that “The results obtained indicate that linalool and the corresponding acetate play a major role in the anti-inflammatory activity displayed by the essential oils containing them, and provide further evidence suggesting that linalool and linalyl acetate-producing species are potentially anti-inflammatory agents.”


Peppermint in teapot terepenes pulegone

While pulegone has a strong peppermint and citrus aroma, it is not without its issues. Pulegone is considered safe for uses in limited quantities. That being said, in mass amounts it has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies.

That does not mean Pulegone is not beneficial to us in some ways small amounts have been linked to health benefits such as stress reduction. In addition, it is thought to a useful sedative and memory retention aid. Pulegone is found in significant levels in peppermint and other plants that humans eat.


orange spice terpenes terpinolene

Piney, woodsy and fruity all describe the aroma and flavor of the terpene called terpinolene. Terpinolene much like Camphene is thought to possibly help stop the spread of cancer. In one NIH published study they stated that “Our findings clearly demonstrate that TPO is a potent antiproliferative agent for brain tumour cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent, which needs to be further studied.” It’s also the least common terpene in cannabis.

Other beneficial uses for Terpinolene include use as a sedative and anti-stress agent.


Bell pepper terpene Carnene

Carene, which is also known as Delta-3-carene. It is naturally present in pine extract, bell pepper, basil oil, grapefruit, and orange juices, citrus oils from other fruits. It is said to have a sweet taste. Carene is known to help remove excess fluids from the body. While that is good in many ways it can lead to the dry mouth side effect common with cannabis and hemp-based products.

While Carene is reported to have a variety of health benefits, science is particularly interested in its possible ability to help patients with diseases such as MS and fibromyalgia. Mainly because if it’s anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects. Pain relief from Carene is thought to be a great tool for the prevention or minimization of joint pain due to inflammation.

In addition, research has shown that Carene may be beneficial in not only keeping bones healthy but also in repairing already damaged bones. Further research in this area could lead to breakthrough treatments for diseases like osteoporosis.

Limonene (Entourage)

As the name of this terpene may suggest, limonene has a lemon and citrus aroma and flavor. It can be found in the cannabis plant as well as in many fruits such as lemons. There is a substantial amount of research on the Limonene terpene. While we can not claim any of these results they are still very interesting information. Take, for instance, this study called “Human breast tissue disposition and bioactivity of limonene in women with early-stage breast cancer.”  It claims “We conclude that limonene distributed extensively to human breast tissue and reduced breast tumor cyclin D1 expression that may lead to cell-cycle arrest and reduced cell proliferation.”  In fact, many of the studies regarding Limonene are centered around its possible ability to not only prevent the growth of cancer cells but to also stop the growth and spread of already existing cancer cells.

For more information and research on Limonene, you can visit sites like Web MD where it says “Limonene is used to promote weight loss, prevent cancer, treat cancer, and treat bronchitis.” Or this NIH Study (National Institute of Health) where it says that “Because of its gastric acid neutralizing effect and its support of normal peristalsis, it has also been used for relief of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). D-limonene has well-established chemopreventive activity against many types of cancer.”


Myrcene is a terpene with a strong clove or spice aroma and flavor. It is also one of the most readily available terpenes. Unlike many of the other terpenes that we have listed, which have limited research available, Mycrene has been extensively evaluated.  The findings suggest that this terpene causes both sedative and analgesic effects with the potential to minimize inflammation.

One study published on science direct says “Our results reveal, for the first time, the importance of β-myrcene as an inhibitor of gastric and duodenal ulcers and demonstrate that an increase in the levels of gastric mucosa defence factors is involved in the anti-ulcer activity of β-myrcene.” Another study done on Myrcene suggests that “These data show that myrcene has significant anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects in human chondrocytes and, thus, its ability to halt or, at least, slow down cartilage destruction and osteoarthritis progression warrants further investigation.”


Q. What does the FDA say about Terpenes?

A. As far as the FDA is considered almost all of the terpenes are considered food grade flavor additives. Most of them are on the FDA’s GRAS list (Generally recognized as safe.) Many of these terpenes are found in a wide variety of food and medicine.

Q. What is the entourage effect and how does it relate to terpenes?

A. Entourage Effect Explained.: Many terpenes interact to create a greater effect. Terpenes such as myrcene and caryophyllene help produce the entourage effect. That essentially means that they magnify the effects of the terpenes by working synergistically with them. They enhance the effect of the therapeutic benefits that hemp may provide naturally.


*This is NOT a complete list of Terpenes. The Terpene family is huge. This list does cover the majority of terpenes found in the hemp and cannabis plants. Studies show that terpenes, when paired with the cannabinoids found in CBD, show great potential for spectacular health benefits.


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