Terpenes – A Basic Guide to Understanding What They Are

September 2, 2021 by admin0

What are Cannabis Terpenes?

Terpenes, also called terpenoids are a group of organic hydrocarbons that are created by plants and contribute to the smell and flavor of marijuana strains. Terpenes are classified as mono, di, tri, tetra, and sesquiterpenes based on the number of isoprene units they have. These compounds give each strain aromatic diversity. 

For example, Limonene is said to have a citrus-like taste when it’s inhaled, while Alpha-Pinene has a piney scent and tastes like cedar. 

Did you know that terpenes are also not exclusive to marijuana and can be found in many plants? For instance, isoprenoids give lemons their sour taste, lavender its calming nature, and pine trees their distinct scent. 

In marijuana, each strain has its own distinct combination of terpenes that work together to give each consumer a unique experience. Terpenes work in conjunction with cannabinoids (like THC) to create different effects on each person when consumed.

What are the Medical Benefits of Cannabis Terpenes?

One of the medical benefits of cannabis terpenes are that they provide aromatic diversity (differing smells and tastes). The aromatics help patients find relief by addressing their symptoms, like stress or depression. The smells can also evoke happy memories or make them feel euphoric. 

Terpenes also allow for quick absorption through the nose, which makes them a popular choice for those who don’t want to smoke to medicate themselves. Klein et al. 2011, mentions there are at least 80 compounds coming from the cannabis plant that are regarded as cannabinoids that cause psychotropic effects in the human brain. 

For example, Alpha-Pinene, when combined with THC has been shown to reduce inflammation and bronchial spasms and is often used as an antibiotic for treating asthma. The combination of Limonene and THC is thought to ease anxiety and stress. The combination of Linalool and THC is used as an anti-depressant, while the combination of Myrcene and CBD has been noted to reduce pain levels.

Exploring Cannabis Terpenes

Although the names of different terpenes may sound foreign to most individuals, the names of the strains many of them are found in might sound more familiar. 

For example, many relaxing cannabis strains like Blue Dream and Granddaddy Purple contain the terpene Myrcene which will aid in pain relief or insomnia. When choosing a cannabis strain, knowing which terpenes it includes can help you discover the therapeutic effects you may encounter. When using medical cannabis, it is always important to discuss this treatment option with a doctor before trying medical cannabis on your own. 

If you have any questions about medical cannabis and terpenes and are local to the Tampa area, please reach out to our office at 813-651-3492 for an appointment today!


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Dr. Kelly Ennix King is a licensed medical cannabis physician in Florida and California.

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