What are Cannabis Terpenes?

A few years ago on Instagram, I barely remember the word terpene being used at all. I’m not going to lie, I had no knowledge about them at all until just over a year ago. You may know nothing about terpenes but if you are a cannabis patient or connoisseur, chances are you relish in the various delicious aromas and flavour profiles that belong to our beloved medicine cannabis.

What are Terpenes?

Those marvelous scents and tastes all come from whichever terpene profile the cannabis strain you are enjoying holds, but terpenes are not limited to cannabis. Terpenes are aromatic organic compounds that are produced by a variety of flora and fauna; they what provides the delicious scents and tastes we take in from so much around us in everyday life.

Terpenes are naturally a major component of resins secreted by plant life, which is secreted by plants for it’s protective benefits. Terpenes are the central part of essential oils used in aromatherapy, which aims to improve physical and psychological well-being. Some insects such as swallowtail butterflies even secrete terpenes in order protect the plants they pollinate; the terpene scents emitted attract any nearby predators to the offending herbivore. There are also less fascinating modern uses of terpenes such as to scent cosmetic and hygiene products or being used to flavour food additives.

Cannabis Terpenes and their Medicinal Benefits

Alike cannabinoids, terpenes also synergize with cannabinoids to enhance medicinal benefits. Dr. Ethan Russo, MD, Director of Research and Development at International Cannabis and Cannabinoid Institute was the one to discover and conclude that terpenes offer complementary pharmacological activities that may strengthen and improve therapeutic use of cannabinoids. Dr. Russo came to this conclusion after his 2006 discovery that CBD antagonized THC’s effects. Though more research is needed on the “Terpene Entourage Effect”, it is clear to me as a patient that a great quality terpene profile always makes the world of difference in medicinal effects!

Most common Cannabis Terpenes

Although there are somewhere over 200 terpenes found in the cannabis plant, only a few are overly prevalent in the strains we consume. The following are just a few of the more common terpene profiles we experience as patients and everyday cannabis consumers:



These are some of the most common terpenes you will find in cannabis. Unmentioned other common terpenes are Beta-caryophyllene, Borneol, Delta-3-carene, Eucalyptol and Terpineol!

Written by: Lyss Hardwood