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A picture of common terpene containing herbs and fruits.

Cannabis Terpenes for Beginners

Let’s dive into the complex world of cannabis compounds – beyond cannabinoids and the characteristic scent and effects of the plant. One intriguing element that contributes to these characteristics is terpenes (sometimes called “terpenoids”), key not just for aroma and flavor but may also play a pivotal role in regulating the effects of cannabis.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are organic compounds that are the source of the distinct aroma and flavors of many plants, fruits, and herbs, including cannabis. These compounds serve an essential function in nature. They act as a natural defense from pests and predators and from environmental stressors.

In cannabis, trichomes synthesize terpenes. These same mushroom-shaped glands produce THC and other cannabinoids. These days, cannabis-derived terpenes play an even bigger role in cannabis enthusiasts’ pursuit of the highest terpene strains, exotic flavors, and interesting effects, especially in concentrates and the dabbing community.

Where Are Terpenes Found?

You can find terpenes all over the natural world. They give oranges their citrus smell, they give lavender their relaxing fragrance, and they give pine trees their refreshing pine scent.

Each cannabis plant produces its own unique terpene profile, impacting the smell, taste, and possibly even the effects when consumed. There is still a lot we don’t know about cannabis terpenes and their effects but research into the potential impact on effects is ongoing.

Understanding the Role of Terpenes in Cannabis

The terpenes in cannabis influence the plant’s diverse scent and flavor profiles. For instance, a strain smelling strongly of citrus is likely high in limonene, a common terpene also found in citrus fruits.

Terpenes also work in combination with cannabinoids in what’s known as the “Entourage Effect,” potentially changing the plant’s overall effects. For example, Myrcene, one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, may contribute to its sedative effects, and may also boost the effects of THC.

How Terpenes Affect the Body

While research is still ongoing, early studies have shown real potential when it comes to the health benefits associated with various terpenes. Some studies have shown certain compounds may have neuro-protective qualities. Others, like the citrusy limonene, may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, while the spicy and earthy Humulene may possess pain-fighting effects.

It’s important to note that while these findings are promising, further research and clinical trials are still needed to validate any claims of health benefits.

a Blackberry Kush cannabis plant in the grow room.
Cannabis plants produce different terpenes depending on the strain and phenotype.

How to Choose Cannabis by Terpene Profiles

Being able to identify cannabis strains based on terpene profiles can really take your consumption experience to the next level. Recognizing individual terpenes by their aroma can help steer your selection based on desired effects or flavor preferences.

It’s advised that beginners approach this practice gradually. Get used to common marijuana terpenes and how they interact with your body and senses. One of the easiest to identify, limonene is known for its strong citrus fruit scent. Another terpene with an intense and easy-to-identify aroma is pinene which, as you might imagine, smells nearly identical to a fresh pine tree.

Common Terpenes


Freshly sliced lemons.
Lemons (surprise!) are rich in limonene.


Characterized by a vibrant citrusy aroma similar to fresh lemons, Limonene is one of the best terpenes for depression and anxiety. Beyond mood-elevating properties, research has shown that limonene may help with stress relief and possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Check out this Limonene-rich strain.

Black peppercorns on a spoon.
Black pepper is rich in beta-caryophyllene.

Caryophyllene (aka Beta-Caryophyllene)

With its distinctively spicy and peppery aroma, caryophyllene is the only terpene that acts as a cannabinoid. Caryophyllene interacts with the body’s CB2 receptors. It’s currently being studied for anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it one of the best terpenes for pain.

Check out this Caryophyllene-rich strain.

Fresh green hops.
Hops are very rich in Beta-Myrcene.

Myrcene (aka Beta-Myrcene)

Recognized by its earthy, musky scent with hints of fruity notes, myrcene tops the list of terpenes in cannabis best for sleep. Found in a variety of cannabis strains, it may enhance the effects of THC, and some studies show it may have potential analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and sedative properties.

Check out this Myrcene-rich strain.

Harvested lavender flowers in a jar.
Lavender is rich in Linalool.


Known for its floral aroma with hints of spice, you can find linalool in lavender. Research suggests that it may have calming and anti-stress effects, potentially making it one of the best terpenes for anxiety and individuals with stress disorders.

Check out this Linalool-rich strain.

Fresh coriander.
Coriander is rich in Humulene.

Humulene (aka Alpha-Humulene)

Humulene has a woody, earthy aroma with spicy notes. Also found in hops and in coriander. Preliminary research shows that it may show anti-inflammatory effects.

Check out this strain with Humulene.

Final Thoughts

Terpenes play an important role in the uniqueness and complexity of cannabis, impacting not just the aroma and flavor, but potentially also influencing the plant’s effects and offering potential health benefits. Adding another layer, high-level terpene extraction allows producers to create highly specific cannabis concentrates with a potent terpene profile. For cannabis enthusiasts, a knowledge of terpenes can help navigate the complexities of cannabis flavors and aromas.

However, as research goes deeper, it reveals more layers to these incredible compounds. The next time you sit back to enjoy cannabis, take a moment to go on a terpene journey. Try to appreciate the depth of flavor and experience added by these compounds.


What to know about terpenes

The Cannabis Terpenes

Cannabis industry gets crafty with terpenes

Myrcene—What Are the Potential Health Benefits of This Flavouring and Aroma Agent?

Lead Compounds from Medicinal Plants for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Cannabis And Its Terpenes: What Is Humulene And What Does It Do?

An overview of the cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptor system and its therapeutic potential

What Is Linalool? Benefits, Sources + How to Use It

What Is Limonene? Everything You Need to Know

General Cannabis FAQ

Cannabis, often referred to as marijuana, is a plant that has been used for thousands of years for various purposes, including medicine, textiles, and recreation. The plant contains compounds known as cannabinoids, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the most well-known. THC is primarily responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects, while CBD is recognized for its potential therapeutic benefits without causing a “high.”

Many countries and U.S. states have decriminalized or legalized the use of marijuana for medical use, recreational, or both. The legal status changes frequently as legislation evolves.

In the U.S., states vote to regulate marijuana use on an individual basis. While it remains illegal at the federal level, numerous states have legalized it for medicinal and/or recreational use.

The following states have legalized medical, recreational, or both:

  • Alaska – Medical
  • Arizona – Legal
  • Arkansas – Medical
  • California – Legal
  • Colorado – Legal
  • Connecticut – Legal
  • Delaware – Legal
  • District of Columbia – Legal
  • Florida – Medical
  • Hawaii – Medical (Possession decriminalized for small amounts)
  • Illinois – Legal
  • Louisiana – Medical (Possession decriminalized for small amounts)
  • Maine – Legal
  • Maryland – Legal
  • Massachusetts – Legal
  • Michigan – Legal
  • Minnesota – Legal
  • Mississippi – Medical (Possession decriminalized for small amounts)
  • Missouri – Legal
  • Montana – Legal
  • Nevada – Legal
  • New Hampshire – Medical (Possession decriminalized for small amounts)
  • New Jersey – Legal
  • New Mexico – Legal
  • New York – Legal
  • North Dakota – Medical (Possession decriminalized for small amounts)
  • Ohio – Medical (Possession decriminalized)
  • Oklahoma – Medical
  • Oregon – Legal
  • Pennsylvania – Medical
  • Rhode Island – Legal
  • South Dakota – Medical
  • Utah – Medical
  • Vermont – Legal
  • Virginia – Legal
  • Washington – Legal
  • West Virginia – Medical


Outside of the U.S., countries like The Netherlands, Canada, and, more recently, Thailand have legalized cannabis on a national level.

Always check local laws and regulations in your specific location.

In states where marijuana has been legalized, you can purchase products at licensed dispensaries. Revolution products are available at Enlightened, Revolution, and partner dispensaries in Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, and Maryland. Find a dispensary near you.

Keep in mind that dispensaries may cater to medical patients, recreational consumers, or both, depending on local laws.

Always ensure that you are buying from a reputable and licensed establishment to guarantee product quality and safety.

The effects of cannabis vary widely depending on the strain, dosage, method of consumption, an individual’s endocannabinoid system, and more.

Some commonly reported effects include:

Psychoactive Effects: Euphoria, mood elevation, cerebral stimulation, stress relief, calming effects, and relaxation.

Physical Effects: Pain relief, body buzz, anti-inflammation, anti-nausea, energy boost or sedation, and appetite stimulation

*Medical Benefits: Cannabis is believed to have a range of therapeutic effects and alleviation of symptoms related to conditions like epilepsy, PTSD, and more.

*Marijuana is not approved by the FDA to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The primary difference lies in their intended use:

Medical Cannabis: Used as a treatment and alleviation of symptoms for specific health conditions. Medical strains might be cultivated and processed to have higher CBD content or other therapeutic compounds. Medical cannabis requires a physician who usually prescribes or recommends it as a treatment option.

Recreational Cannabis: Used without a medical justification but for personal enjoyment and fulfillment.

The process varies from state to state but typically involves the following steps:

Doctor’s Recommendation: Schedule an appointment with a physician who is authorized to recommend medical marijuana. Discuss your health conditions and reasons for seeking cannabis as a treatment.

Application: Once you have a doctor’s recommendation, you’ll usually need to apply for a medical marijuana card through a designated state or country agency.

Proof & Identification: Provide necessary identification and proof of residency as required by your jurisdiction.

Fee Payment: Most jurisdictions require a fee for the application and issuance of a medical marijuana card.

Card Issuance: Once approved, you will receive your medical marijuana card, allowing you to purchase cannabis at designated medical dispensaries.

If you’d like more detailed information, please read our state-specific medical card guide here.